Virginia 27, Georgia Tech 17
On a day when Wali Lundy became Virginia's career touchdown leader, his team all but guaranteed that its season won't be over when the regular season ends.
The Cavaliers became eligible for a postseason bowl by winning their sixth game of the season, a 27-17 decision over No. 24 Georgia Tech in front of a capacity crowd of 60,061 at Scott Stadium.
Virginia (6-3, 3-3 ACC) squandered an early 17-point lead before pulling away from the Yellow Jackets, whose hopes of solidifying a spot in an upper-tier bowl game evaporated when they failed to score over the final 19 minutes 37 seconds.
With officials from the Gator and Champs Sports bowls in attendance, Virginia tried to show it deserves to spend part of its winter break playing in a marquee bowl -- or at least in a warmer climate than Boise, Idaho, where the Cavaliers lost to Fresno State in last year's MPC Computers Bowl.
But where? The next two weeks will help determine the answer. Virginia, which won for the third time in its past four games, will host Virginia Tech (8-1) on Saturday before finishing the regular season at Miami (8-1) on Nov. 26.
"I thought we made a statement with this game because we played like we expected to win," said junior receiver Deyon Williams, who finished with a game-high 107 yards on 10 catches. "We still have a lot more to do. Our season comes down to how we do in our last two games."
Lundy led the way Saturday by carrying 23 times for 83 yards and two scores.
His 48 career touchdowns break the record of 46 set by Gene Mayer from 1912 to 1915. Senior quarterback Marques Hagans completed 21 of 29 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
"It's good to know that I'm leaving a legacy here, but without the 10 guys out there with me, I couldn't have done it," said Lundy. "But the biggest thing about this game was that we won and showed we could beat a good team."
After Georgia Tech (6-3, 4-3) rallied from a 17-0 deficit to tie the score on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Reggie Ball to senior Demarius Bilbo with 5:23 left in the third quarter, Virginia took the lead to stay on its next possession when senior Connor Hughes made a 47-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining.
Georgia Tech's Travis Bell pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right early in the fourth quarter, and Virginia put away the game on its ensuing possession when Hagans hit Williams on a post pattern for a 21-yard touchdown with 9:03 left.
"That was the dagger drive," said Williams, a former All-Met at Suitland High. "That was when we finished them off."
Virginia dealt the Yellow Jackets their seventh consecutive loss at Scott Stadium after spending the past week dealing with unwelcome news off the field.
The Cavaliers had to shuffle their defense after four players -- starting nose guard Kwakou Robinson and safety Tony Franklin and reserve defensive end Vince Redd and receiver Ottowa Anderson -- were suspended Thursday by Coach Al Groh for an unspecified violation of team rules. Sophomore Keenan Carter, a former All-Met at Potomac (Va.), replaced Robinson and walk-on Byron Glaspy took over for Franklin.
Nonetheless, the Virginia secondary contained Georgia Tech sophomore receiver Calvin Johnson, who entered averaging a conference-high 90.6 yards per game.
Johnson was held to four catches for 41 yards and no touchdowns.
"One of the things good teams can do is deal with whatever is in front of them -- good or bad," said Groh, adding that no timetable has been set for the four players' return.
Virginia also lost sophomore safety Nate Lyles, who was taken off the field on a stretcher in the first half after diving headfirst trying to make a tackle and was taken to a local hospital for observation said Groh, who added that Lyles had use of his extremities.