CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Trey Edmunds wasn’t able to celebrate, but he was a big reason whyVirginia Tech left Scott Stadium feeling good.
Edmunds took a short pass from Logan Thomas, broke a tackle and then dodged a few more defenders on a 26-yard touchdown play Saturday night, helping the Hokies beat their in-state rival for the 10th consecutive time, 16-6.
“He just made a great run after the catch,” Thomas said. “That’s what we’ve got to have to score touchdowns.”
Edmunds later broke the tibia in his right leg, an injury that will require surgery and sideline him for 12-18 weeks.
But his touchdown just before halftime and three first-half field goals from former walk-on Eric Kristensen were enough for the Hokies (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), some of whom learned before the game that their hopes of playing in the league championship game were dashed when Duke beat North Carolina 27-25 to win the Coastal Division.
Clearly, they didn’t let it dampen their enthusiasm for beating the Cavaliers for the 14th time in 15 games.
“The few players that knew felt like this game was just as important for us,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “We knew we had to get this win for our program and our fans. This was more important for us than Duke winning or Duke losing.”
The Hokies also pulled out all the stops, running a reverse that led to a handoff and then a pass to Thomas, an onside kick which the Hokies recovered and a reverse on a kickoff return that allowed them to get the ball out to the 30 yard line.
Hokies coach Frank Beamer said the day was all about beating Virginia, and nothing else.
“I didn’t know until I walked in after the game” that Duke had won, Beamer said.
The Cavaliers (2-10, 0-8) lost their ninth straight overall this season and for the 18th time in their last 22 games, and used the same recipe that has plagued them throughout. They forced two turnovers, but scored no points off either, leaving them with just 13 points scored off 21 takeaways this year. They also squandered a late offensive series when Greyson Lambert threw an interception.
All the scoring came in the first half on a frigid day at Scott Stadium, and with the Hokies’ ACC title shot gone, and discontent among Virginia fans, fans’ enthusiasm waned as the game wore on.
Curious game management by Virginia late in the first half also caused some consternation.
Max Valles sacked Thomas — one of five sacks for the Cavaliers — and forced a fumble late in the half, and Brent Urban recovered for Virginia at the Hokies’ 34. After Kevin Parks lost a yard, David Watford threw incomplete to Darius Jennings and then to Jake McGee, and with just over a minute to play, Virginia opted to try to cash in on the turnover and go for it on fourth-and-11. Watford, however, badly overthrew E.J. Scott deep downfield and the Hokies took over with 1:04 on the clock.
Thomas quickly hit Demitri Knowles for 15 yards to midfield, Kalvin Cline for 12 and Willie Byrn for 17 yards to the Cavaliers 26. After missing on two passes, Thomas hit Edmunds with a short dump pass, and Edmunds broke free from the grasp of linebacker Daquan Romero and slipped two more attempts at tackles and took it into the end zone.
The rest of the game was scoreless, and highlighted more of the issues that have plagued Virginia all season.
Kevin Parks did bust free for a 48-yard run with Virginia pinned deep in its own end in the fourth quarter, making him the first Cavaliers running back to go over 1,000 yards since Alvin Pearman in 2004, but on the next play, Lambert threw wide of Keeon Johnson and Kendall Fuller intercepted for the Hokies.
Lambert played the fourth quarter after David Watford, who started every game this season, completed 13 of 23 passes for 122 yards in the first three quarters, but twice saw drives inside the Hokies’ 20 stall, forcing field goal attempts.
The Hokies weren’t much better, but in what became a defensive struggle throughout the second half, the Hokies held the Cavaliers to 120 yards, making the lead more than ample. The Cavaliers never advanced beyond Tech’s 48 after halftime.
The game’s first four possessions all yielded field goals — of 22 and 30 yards by Eric Kristensen for the Hokies, who got the ball first, and kicks of 36 and 29 yards by the Cavaliers’ Alex Vozenilek.
Virginia finally forced the first punt and drove to the Hokies’ 33, but after considering a long field goal, Virginiapunted and the Hokies drove 67 yards to Kristensen’s go-ahead 38-yard field goal.