Virginia football plagued by usual mistakes in season-ending loss to Virginia Tech

Virginia Coach Mike London directs his team during the first half of the Cavaliers' 37-7 blowout loss to state rival Virginia Tech.
Virginia Coach Mike London directs his team during the first half of the Cavaliers' 37-7 blowout loss to state rival Virginia Tech. (Don Petersen/associated Press)
By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2010; 11:19 PM

BLACKSBURG, VA. - Ignominiously predictable until the very end, Virginia dropped its season finale, 37-7, on Saturday at Virginia Tech by displaying all the ills that plagued Coach Mike London's first season at the helm.

The Cavaliers were flagged for a late hit on the opening kickoff when a player who wasn't on the field when the play began forearmed Virginia Tech's kick returner after he was out of bounds.

The Hokies (10-2, 8-0 ACC) scored all five of their touchdowns on plays on which at least one Virginia defender either missed a tackle or was bowled over.

After converting on its first third down attempt, Virginia failed to convert on its next 11. The Cavaliers converted on 35.2 percent of third downs this season, which ranks them in the bottom fourth of the country.

London called Virginia Tech - which has won seven straight games against Virginia and will represent the Coastal Division in next weekend's ACC title game - "the measuring stick right now."

Virginia Tech tallied 383 yards in total offense Saturday; Virginia recorded 291. The Hokies converted on 6 of 6 red zone scoring chances; the Cavaliers were 1 for 2. Virginia allowed four sacks; Virginia Tech gave up one.

The Hokies are riding a 10-game winning streak. The Cavaliers (4-8) concluded a 1-7 conference slate that marks their fewest ACC victories in a season since 1982.

"They're a real solid team on every level," fifth-year Virginia senior linebacker Darnell Carter said of Virginia Tech.

And as of now, Virginia is not. The Cavaliers could not produce even in the sparse areas - special teams trickery and short-yardage situations - in which they typically have been charmed this season.

Virginia lined up in punt formation on a fourth and two early in the second quarter, but after the snap, junior punter Jimmy Howell rolled to his right and completed a pass to sophomore tight end Colter Phillips for a one-yard gain.

"There's an option to either kick the ball, or there's an option to throw it to Colter," London said, "and we just didn't see the coverage that was off, that it probably would have been a better decision to kick it."

Late in the first half, fifth-year senior tailback Keith Payne was stopped inches short on fourth and one at the Virginia Tech 14-yard line. Payne - Virginia's leading rusher this season - finished with eight yards on seven carries Saturday.

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