Virginia, Va. Tech clash for Commonwealth Cup
When Virginia Tech opted out of a bowl game during the pandemic in 2020, it ended the nation’s longest active bowl streak at 27 straight seasons.
If the visiting Hokies (5-6, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) don’t beat rival Virginia (3-8, 2-5) for the Commonwealth Cup on Saturday, they will be staring at a new streak: two straight years without a bowl berth.
Virginia Tech heads into Charlottesville after losing two of its last three games, including a 35-28 decision at home last weekend against NC State.
The Hokies finished 3-8 in 2022 in their first season under head coach Brent Pry.
“We can’t hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves,” Pry said after the loss to the Wolfpack. “It hurts. We didn’t play our best. We’ve got to watch the film and correct the things that need correcting. We’ve got to be better at winning our one-on-one battles. We have to be an improved team when we go over there Saturday.”
Kyron Drones has passed for 1,750 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions and rushed for 592 yards and four scores this season. Bhayshul Tuten leads the Hokies with 610 rushing yards and seven TDs and Da’Quan Felton is the leading receiver with 35 catches for 534 yards and six scores.
Felton caught two of Drones’ three TD passes against NC State, but Tuten finished with minus-3 yards on two runs as Virginia Tech fell behind 28-7 early in the third quarter.
“They had too many points on the board,” Pry said. “We were behind too much. Felt like we had to throw the ball.”
Throwing the ball has not been a problem lately for Virginia. That’s especially true when wide receiver Malik Washington is on the receiving end.
The Cavaliers are coming off an emotional 30-27 home win against Duke last Saturday, ending a week that marked the one-year anniversary of the shooting deaths of three football players.
Washington, named a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist this week, hauled in eight of freshman Anthony Colandrea’s passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Blue Devils. He has broken Virginia’s single-season records for catches (96) and receiving yards (1,311) and ranks No. 2 in the nation in both categories.
“I just know the work that I put in and the work that we put in (during the) offseason, all throughout the winter, it’s paying off,” Washington said. “I love to see that.”
It was the sixth straight 100-yard game and the ninth of the season for the Northwestern transfer.
“I wish we had him for another year,” offensive coordinator Des Kitchings said. “I love the kid, and not just because of his statistics. I love his day-to-day (approach) and how he attacks it.”
Washington is facing a Virginia Tech defense that allowed a season-high three touchdown passes in the loss against NC State. The Hokies have intercepted only six passes this season, three of them by Dorian Strong.
This is the 104th meeting in the rivalry, with Virginia Tech owning a 60-38-5 advantage. The Hokies have won two in a row and 17 of the last 18 meetings.
–Field Level Media