Virginia linebacker Charles McDaniel, his orange jersey still covered with sweat, stood in his locker room tonight and put his team's 20-20 tie with 20th-ranked Georgia Tech into perspective.

"I'm happy," he said, "but I'm not satisfied."

The tie was deserved, basically because both teams came back enough times not to lose. Virginia rallied with 17 points in the second half to go ahead, 20-17, but Tech's David Bell kicked a 36-yard field goal with 3:39 remaining. The drive began after linebacker Ralph Malone intercepted Virginia's Don Majkowski at the Tech five with 9:38 left.

But the tie also is deceiving.

Although they came out equal in front of a Parents' Day crowd of 40,067 -- the third-largest at home in Virginia history -- Virginia and Georgia Tech seem headed in different directions.

The tie certainly complicates the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, but it does solidify the position of Virginia (4-1-1, 1-0-1) as the only unbeaten team other than Maryland (3-3, 2-0).

Meanwhile, it continues the tribulations of the Yellow Jackets (3-1-1, 0-1-1), who, before last weekend, were undefeated and ranked 12th. And they must play Auburn next Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets gave up their chances to win. Tailback Robert Lavette gained 161 yards on 36 carries and scored one touchdown, and seemingly could not be stopped by Cavalier arm tackles. Tech was in Virginia territory five times in the first half and could score only 10 points. The offense, which gained 371 yards (to Virginia's 315), was forced the final indignity of having to run out the clock with 26 seconds to go because it was on the Tech five.

"We didn't want a turnover there because it could have been run back for a score," Tech quarterback John Dewberry said. "That was the intelligent thing to do, and we've supposed to be intelligent people. We go to Georgia Tech."

Tech came into the game leading the ACC in total offense, rushing offense, total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense. Based on their first-half performance, the Yellow Jackets may have added another category: missed opportunities.

On their first possession, the Yellow Jackets held the ball for nearly seven minutes, driving inside the one on fourth and goal.

On fourth down, Lavette, who averaged 107 yards in Tech's first four games, burrowed into the line, only to be stopped short of the goal line by left tackle Ron Mattes.

It was the first time this season Tech has not scored on its first possession, leaving the ball inside the one.

This was where Majkowski took his first snap as a starting quarterback at Virginia. Three plays later, the Cavaliers were three yards better off, and they punted. Majkowski's next series started at the four, but things got better in the second half as he rushed for a total of 57 yards and completed six of 20 for 161, despite three interceptions.

"He did fine," Coach George Welsh said of his new starter, who replaced Kevin Ferguson. "He just needs another game. He needs to drop the ball off more underneath and not force it long."

Majkowski acknowledged he threw the ball into a crowd on Malone's interception.

"Definitely the turning point," he said. "If I had not forced the ball, we could have had a field goal and would have led by six points and probably would have won."

The Yellow Jackets think they would have won had they scored more in the first half. Coach Bill Curry said he wanted 24 points then.

He got 10. Stopping Tech, which averages 273 pounds per man on the offensive line, three times in a row in the first quarter was too much to ask of the Virginia defense. Fullback Keith Glanton scored from two yards on a six-play drive for a 7-0 lead with 1:22 left in the quarter.

Virginia's Kenny Stadlin kicked a 26-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3 with 10:02 left in the half. Safety Cleve Pounds' interception set up Bell's 28-yard field goal to give Tech a 10-3 lead with six seconds left in the half.

All that was purely window-dressing for a superb second half. Virginia, using Majkowski's running more, scored 10 straight points in the third quarter. Majkowski, who rallied the Cavaliers to four touchdowns in their last two games for victories, scored on a nine-yard run to tie the score. Then, following an interception, he led the Cavaliers to Stadlin's 24-yard field goal and the lead, 13-10.

After Lavette scored early in the fourth quarter from the one, Majkowski threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to flanker John Ford for a 20-17 lead with 13:11 left.

Too much time, as it turned out, when Bell made his final field goal.

"Coach Welsh told us we easily could have won, or we easily could have lost," said Majkowski. In one respect, Virginia was perfect. For trivia buffs, this game is noteworthy in that Virginia did not receive one penalty, the first time since the Navy game of 1974.

Tech hardly was error-free. Dewberry lamented the mistakes, the missed opportunities that did in his team last week against North Carolina State, too. He pondered the tie score for a moment. "Maybe," he finally said, "that's the way it should have ended."