Jackets fall to Virginia despite late comeback

Quarterback Jeff Sims (10) carries the ball against Virginia. His 365 total yards and three total touchdowns against the Cavaliers fell just short of enough as Tech lost 48-40. // Photo courtesy of GT Athletics

Tech ended the Virginia game with a close loss in a shootout. The game, held in Charlottesville, started out well for Tech, with Jeff Sims finding Kyric McGowan for a 36-yard touchdown pass on the first drive. Not to be outdone, the defense forced an elite Virginia offense to a quick three and out, giving Tech another opportunity to find the endzone, this time with a three-yard run by Dontae Smith.

It was at this point that the momentum, clearly in Tech’s favor, began to change. On the ensuing drive Cavalier quarterback phenom Brennan Armstrong began to find a rhythm, putting together a nine-play, 75-yard drive to find the endzone and cut Tech’s lead to 14-7.

Tech’s offense on the ensuing drive looked ready to respond, making it all the way to the Virginia nine-yard line before failing to reach the endzone and ending the drive with a field goal.

The Cavalier offense responded with a quick series of big plays, including a 45-yard run by Armstrong, followed by a 13-yard touchdown pass a few plays later.

Redshirt junior Jordan Mason found a groove on the following Tech drive, running for 37 yards in four plays before the drive was cut short by a Sims interception. The Cavaliers would convert on the opportunity, going 82 yards in three plays to take the lead 21-16. A quick three and out by Tech put the ball back in the Cavaliers’ hands, this time ending the half with a field goal.

The second half opened with a quick field goal by Virginia, followed with back-to-back runs by Tech freshman Jahmyr Gibbs that combined for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Virginia responded with a touchdown of their own, once again relying on Armstrong, who continued the day’s trend of finding open wide receivers in Tech’s secondary. A punt by Tech followed by a touchdown by Virginia made the 24-41 deficit look almost out of reach.

A pair of punts put Tech on their own thirty-five-yard line with 12:26 to go. After a few short runs by Mason, Sims ran 38 yards to the Virginia 17-yard line where Tech was able to get a field goal. Virginia hit back with a touchdown drive, making the score 27-48.

Sims responded with a quick march downfield, connecting with Kalani Norris on the eighth play of the 96-yard drive for a touchdown. A successful onside kick gave Tech another chance, and Sims was able to connect with McGowan for a touchdown, making the score 40-48 with 22 seconds left on the clock.

After a failed two-point conversion Tech found themselves with a sliver of a chance, which was raised after yet another successful onside kick. Sims completed two passes to get Tech to the Virginia 31-yard line, where the Cavalier defense put a stop to Tech’s march and sealed the game.

The close game ended with Virginia totaling 636 yards of offense, with Tech’s defense giving up 396 passing yards. The loss adds to Tech’s defensive struggles throughout the year, specifically in the secondary, which left multiple receivers open at multiple points of the game.

As the season continues, Tech will face Virginia Tech for its homecoming game at 12 p.m. on Oct. 30, entering as favorites for the third time against an ACC opponent in the Collins era, the second such occurrence this season.