- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 29, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. | For the ninth time in his career as the University of Virginia coach, Al Groh and the Cavaliers played Virginia Tech. For the eighth time, Groh and Virginia walked off in defeat.

The Hokies ground out a 42-13 victory Saturday at Scott Stadium, getting 183 yards and four touchdowns from redshirt freshman Ryan Williams. Virginia Tech (9-3) rushed for 298 of its 483 yards.

Virginia, losing for the sixth straight time this season, finished 3-9. Both teams left the field with questions.

Virginia Tech won’t be playing in the ACC championship game, but it will be going to a bowl for the 17th straight season. The best bet is the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, though the Gator in Jacksonville, Fla., also is a possibility.

“I’ve never been to a bad bowl,” coach Frank Beamer said.

Virginia isn’t bowl bound for the second straight year and the third time in four seasons. The Cavaliers’ big question is much more significant than the Hokies’: When the team reconvenes for spring practice in a few months, who will be coach?

All indications are that Groh is done at Virginia despite an overall mark of 59-53 and two ACC coach of the year awards. Attendance was down at Scott Stadium this year, though Saturday’s contest did draw 58,555 (many of them Hokies fans). Virginia had averaged 46,224 in a stadium that seats 61,500 through its first six home games.

Then there’s that whole 1-8 thing against the only other Football Bowl Subdivision program in the state.

When the subject of his future came up after the game, Groh took out and read a copy of the poem “The Guy in the Glass” by Dale Wimbrow. It includes the line “The feller whose verdict counts most in your life/ Is the guy staring back from the glass.”

“When I visited the guy in the glass,” Groh said, “I saw that he’s a guy of commitment, of integrity, of dependability and accountability. He’s loyal. His spirit is indomitable. And he’s caring and loving. I’m sure I will always call the guy in the glass a friend.”

Groh’s players said he didn’t address the subject with them.

“I love Coach Groh. I appreciate what he’s done for me, my teammates and this program,” guard Will Barker said. “He’s right. You have to look yourself in the mirror. I think I can speak for the team. We can all look in the mirror and realize we gave everything we could.”

Added junior tailback Mikell Simpson: “We came in recruited by Coach Groh. Every game we played was for him - not just today.”

For much of the game, Virginia gave Groh reason to believe it could pull off an upset. The Cavaliers trailed 14-13 at halftime, and the score stayed that way for much of the third quarter. But a quick exchange of turnovers with different results turned the game.

Chris Cook picked off a Tyrod Taylor pass in the end zone with 7:09 left in the third quarter. It was only the fourth interception thrown by Taylor this season, but the Cavaliers gave the ball right back. Quarterback Jameel Sewell timed a pitch perfectly, but Simpson couldn’t hang on to the ball. Kam Chancellor recovered for the Hokies and moved the ball to the Virginia 10. It took just two plays for Williams to score his third touchdown.

“I told the offensive line, ‘You know what time it is,’ ” Williams said. “What I meant by that was get me in the end zone. I think they fed off my energy because we were in there two plays after.”

Williams, from Stonewall Jackson High in Manassas, Va., has 20 touchdowns this season (19 rushing, one receiving). In Virginia Tech history, only Lee Suggs (twice) and Kevin Jones have had more. The ACC’s leading rusher, Williams has 1,538 yards and needs 110 in the bowl game to set a single-season school record.

Beamer and Groh didn’t talk much when they met for their postgame handshake. Groh offered his congratulations, and that was about the end of it.

“[Groh] is a good football coach,” Beamer said. “He runs a good program. They do it the right way. He’s a good, good person. That’s what I know about Al Groh.”

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