The skid hit five games and this one came with yet another flavor.
Virginia didn’t waste a spectacular defensive performance with an offense that couldn’t move the ball like it did against Pitt. Virginia didn’t shoot itself in the foot with a bundle of turnovers and penalties like it did against Ball State. Virginia didn’t stall inside the red zone like it did against Maryland. Virginia didn’t blow a three-touchdown lead like it did against Duke.
No, Saturday, the opponent was Georgia Tech and the method of losing was a failure to turn takeaways into points.
The Cavaliers had five takeaways against the Yellow Jackets, but didn’t respond with a single point.
UVa (2-6, 0-4 ACC) fell, 35-25.
“It is very disappointing to have had five turnovers and not be able to capitalize and score on some of those opportunities,” said Virginia head coach Mike London.
When Brandon Phelps recovered a Justin Thomas fumble at the UVa 39 with 2:25 remaining in the second quarter, the Cavaliers passed their takeaway total from all of last season with 13.
After Saturday, they have 15. The offense has scored just 13 points off those extra chances.
The Cavaliers haven’t scored a touchdown off a turnover since Kevin Parks rumbled in from 13 yards out against BYU in the season opener.
Against Georgia Tech, Virginia managed 115 yards on 26 post-takeaway plays, including two three-and-outs.
Seven snaps after Eli Harold recovered a fumble in the first quarter, David Watford threw incomplete for Billy Skrobacz on a fourth-and-1 at the Yellow Jacket 10-yard line.
Seven snaps after Anthony Harris picked off Vad Lee in the second quarter, Kevin Parks was stuffed for no gain on a second-and-goal at the GT 1 as the first half expired.
“They plugged the line,” Parks said. “If there’s nothing there, I got to make something. I take the blame. I got to get in. I was very frustrated.”
Laskey, a UVa dagger
Georgia Tech running back Zach Laskey must love seeing blue and orange.
A year after burning the Cavaliers on the first play of the game with a 70-yard touchdown catch, the junior running back gained 133 yards on 16 carries and also made one catch for 24 yards.
In two seasons against UVa, Laskey has 270 yards on 27 touches with three touchdowns.
Also like season, Georgia Tech scored on its first possession, needing three plays to go 73 yards and take a 7-0 lead with 13:55 to go in the first quarter.
Virginia started six true freshmen against Georgia Tech.
Four were defenders.
Linebacker Max Valles, defensive tackle Donte Wilkins, cornerback Tim Harris and linebacker Zach Bradshaw all started. For Bradshaw, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Damascus, Md., it was his first action of the season, burning his redshirt. He made two tackles and broke up a pass.
“Zach had been penciled in to play back before the Oregon game and he broke his hand in practice,” London said. “He had to get surgery on his hand. He had a pin inserted in it. So we were waiting for that opportunity to get him in there.”
Regular starters Demetrious Nicholson, Maurice Canady and Brent Urban all missed with injuries.
For the first time in his career, junior tight end Jake McGee missed a game on Saturday.
UVa’s leader in receptions (31) was questionable to play entering the afternoon with a hip pointer.
“He dressed and probably could have gone, but there’s still four games left to play,” London said. “Just to try to put him out there to make things happen from a standpoint of if he’s not 100 percent ready, we’re not going to chance it on that. I feel confident that we’ll have him back against Clemson.”
In McGee’s place, Cavalier tight ends made three catches for 11 yards.
“Never ever.” — Watford after being asked for the last time he had thrown 60 passes in a game.
The redshirt sophomore set a UVa record for attempts (61) and completions (43). He threw for a career-high 376 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
On the flip side, Virginia only gained 68 yards on 31 rushing attempts.