CHARLOTTESVILLE — When one team beats another team 15 straight times, the games all seem to run together.
That’s unlikely to be the case at Virginia, where the Cavaliers’ football team outlasted Virginia Tech 39-30 on Friday at Scott Stadium.
The Hokies scored 17 straight points in taking a 20-13 lead with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter but the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2 ACC) were quick to respond in capturing the ACCs’s Coastal Division championship for the first time since the league split in half and established a title game.
Virginia meets defending national champion and Atlantic Division champion Clemson (11-0, 8-0) next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Closer to home, UVa can now display a piece of hardware with which few have been around much, the Commonwealth Cup, which goes to the winner of the game annually.
A crowd of 52,619 far surpassed the attendance for the last Tech-UVa game in Charlottesville two years ago, when the Hokies blanked Virginia 10-0 on a rainy, windy night at Scott Stadium.
On the sidelines that night for an official visit was Bryce Perkins, a quarterback prospect from Arizona Western, a junior college at which he enrolled after recovering from a dangerous neck injury at Arizona State.
Despite the dismal setting, it wasn’t long before Perkins committed to Virginia and he has transformed the program like nobody else.
Of the 492 yards that Virginia put up against a defensive unit coached by venerable Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Perkins accounted for 475 yards — a team-high 164 yards on the ground, and he passed for 311.
He ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third.
“I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do,” said UVa head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who heads up the first UVa team to win nine games since the Cavaliers finished 9-4 in 2007 under Al Groh.
“There’s not a play he can’t make. I think Bryce Perkins changes the face of UVa football. This era certainly doesn’t happen without Bryce at quarterback.”
Never mind that Perkins had been diagnosed with tonsillitis after the Cavaliers’ 55-27 victory over Liberty six days earlier, which explains his absence from a scheduled Monday media availability.
There were times Friday when it seemed the Hokies had taken control, most notably after a 1-yard run by DeShawn McClease with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter.
That capped the 17-0 run for the Hokies going back to the first half. However, less than two minutes later, Perkins connected with Billy Kemp on a 25-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 20-20 with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter.
It was one of four ties in the game, the last coming with 7:35 remaining on the first of two fourth-quarter Brian Delaney field goals. It was a 48-yard Delaney field goal with 1:23 left that gave UVa the lead for good at 33-30.
Delaney had opened the game by missing an extra point after a 39-yard Perkins touchdown run that had put Virginia ahead 6-0. He had made 41 of his previous 42 extra-point attempts before Friday.
“When I knew it was going down to a field goal, I had prepared my mindset throughout the week,” Delaney said. “Obviously, there’s nerves but it’s about taking it one rep at the time.
“[The missed point-after kick] is something I’ve got to be better on. Every time I’m out there, you need to get points. A.J. Mejia, another kicker, came over and told me, ‘It’s not ending like this. You’re writing your own story.’ ”
Mendenhall praised Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente for waiting out the swarm of fans that rushed the field after the game and extending his congratulations.
“It’s not a accident that their program has had the kind of success they’ve had,” Mendenhall said. “I respect their program and I respect them as a rival. The quality of their program has helped us improve our program.
“They’ve set a standard that has been helpful for us to measure against.”
The game marked the Cavaliers’ final game against Foster, who had announced his retirement earlier in the year.
“I was here 33 years ago,” Foster said. “We lost that one, unfortunately, and we lost this last one. I have a lot of respect for this [UVa] program and the people here.”
He mentioned former UVa head coaches George Welsh, Al Groh, Mike London and now Mendenhall.
“The games over the years have been extremely close,” Foster said. “Some have been lopsided. No matter what, you know you are going to get everyone’s best shot.”