Brian Delaney spent his Thanksgiving night watching highlights of New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz hitting a 58-yard game-winning field goal on Monday Night Football to beat the Houston Texans, 30-28. Lutz celebrated as soon as the ball left his foot.
Delaney said he watched the kick probably 20-30 times. He visualized making a game-winner ahead of his team’s crucial game against Virginia Tech.
Early in the game against the Hokies, Delaney made an error. The kicker tugged an extra point wide left after Virginia’s opening touchdown. As the game remained tight throughout, there was a chance the missed kick could come back to hurt the Cavaliers.
Luckily for Delaney, he received a chance at redemption.
With the score knotted at 30 and the game down to its final 90 seconds, Delaney stepped up to kick with video of Lutz dancing through his subconscious.
Delaney delivered in the biggest moment of his career, nailing the 48-yard field goal to give UVa a 33-30 lead. The Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2 ACC) ultimately won, 39-30.
“As soon as it came off, I just had that feeling,” Delaney said. “It was good to see.”
Hendon Hooker and Virginia Tech’s offense struggled in the first half, only scoring six points and failing to convert in the red zone. There were no such woes in the second half, as Virginia Tech’s offense started the third quarter on fire.
The Hokies scored touchdowns on three of their first four second-half possessions, accumulating an impressive 224 yards on 20 plays. All three of the touchdown drives went at least 70 yards and took fewer than five minutes.
Virginia Tech scored 21 third-quarter points, but the Hokies only added three in the final 15 minutes.
The two teams combined to score 50 points in the second half after scoring just 19 points in the first 30 minutes. It was an electric second half at Scott Stadium as Virginia made enough plays to secure the victory.
“The second half was just a game of adjustments,” Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Tech made some really nice adjustments, and we adjusted as well and that just went back and forth all the way to the very end as an in-state rivalry, division championship game should.”
VT shutout streak
After shutting out its previous two opponents, Virginia Tech allowed UVa to pile up 75 rushing yards on its first drive. The drive, which was led by 70 rushing yards from Bryce Perkins, ended with a Perkins touchdown run from 39 yards out.
The Hokies didn’t allow a single point against Georgia Tech or Pittsburgh, but it took the Cavaliers just two minutes and 46 seconds to find the end zone against Bud Foster’s defense.
Foster’s unit rallied, however, forcing six consecutive punts, including five consecutive three-and-outs, before Virginia answered with a touchdown drive of its own to tie the game at 20 late in the third quarter.
After an adjustment by Foster and company, Virginia answered back. The Cavaliers caught fire late, scoring 26 second-half points. Seven came from the defense, but the offense delivered consistently late.
Moving the ball
Virginia Tech held its previous three opponents to an average of 58.7 rushing yards per game. Perkins’ second touchdown run of the first quarter went for 67 yards.
Perkins and the Cavaliers moved the ball effectively on scrambles and designed quarterback runs early in the game. He amassed 137 yards and two touchdowns on his first five carries, but the redshirt senior quarterback finished the game with 164 yards and two TDs on 19 carries. His rushing production slowed, but his passing production soared in the final 20 minutes.
Virginia struggled to move the football in the middle of the game, but the Cavaliers rallied in their final few drives. Perkins connected with Hasise Dubois on multiple occasions, and the Cavaliers outlasted the Hokies.
Perkins starred for Virginia, throwing for 311 yards and a touchdown in addition to his crucial runs. He did all of this after dealing with tonsillitis earlier in the week. He was hospitalized overnight following the Liberty game and forced to miss Monday’s practice. Despite the illness, Perkins said there was no chance he would’ve missed the game.
“As long as I could walk, I was gonna play,” Perkins said.