Nothing Was Going To Stop Perkins From Snapping Hokies’ Streak

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Bryce Perkins scrambles away from Tech’s Chamarri Conner on a first-quarter touchdown run.

Come hell or high water, or even tonsillitis, nothing was going to prevent Bryce Perkins from playing his last game in Scott Stadium on Friday afternoon, especially with the ACC Coastal Division championship on the line, and especially against arch-rival Virginia Tech.

For an entire year, the Virginia quarterback had been haunted by a late-game fumble in Blacksburg last November that cost the Cavaliers a golden opportunity to end its long losing streak in the rivalry. Friday, he made amends in leading UVA to a dramatic, 39-30 upset win over the Hokies, snapping a 15-year losing streak in the series.

Perkins had 475 yards of Virginia’s 492 total offense, threw for a touchdown and ran for two others (39, and 67 yards).

More than that, he fulfilled part of the legacy he set out for in July when Bronco Mendenhall told him what separated the great quarterbacks from the good ones — great ones win championships.

“I asked Bryce, ‘Can you win us a championship?’”

Question answered. Virginia is the Coastal Division champions and will face No. 3 Clemson in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte on Saturday night.

Not bad for a guy who started rivalry week in the hospital with tonsilitis. Virginia kept it quiet, but after last Saturday’s win over Liberty, Perkins was sick. He had been drinking hot tea on the sidelines, but it didn’t help much.

After the game, he went to the hospital and doctors admitted him for the night to treat him with antibiotics.

“Monday, I went to the doctor because my tonsils were really swollen and they had to drain my tonsils,” Perkins revealed after leading Virginia to its ninth win of the season. “[Doctors] were surprised I was able to play against Liberty. The sports medicine team, the doctors and everybody in this facility was working overnight, overtime just to get me back on my feet.

“Ain’t no chance I was going to miss this game … as long as I could walk, I was going to play.”

Perkins missed practice Monday, and wasn’t feeling so hot on Tuesday either. But he was on Cloud Nine on Friday night after helping put up 39 points on a Tech defense that hadn’t surrendered a point in the previous nine quarters coming into the battle for the Commonwealth Cup, something the Wahoos hadn’t held since 2003.

The transfer quarterback, who started his career at Arizona State, suffered a broken neck and was told he would never play football again, then became a junior college All-American before finding his way to Virginia, was grateful that he ended the Cavaliers’ drought in the series.

“Anywhere I would go throughout the whole year, no matter how good or bad we were doing, people would come up to me and say, ‘Just beat Tech,’” Perkins said. “This 15-year drought, the people of Charlottesville, all the fans, the players that have come through here have experienced that emptiness for so long. To come out here and [win], to see all the players that played here and for them to come back in the locker room and enjoyed the moment with us, that meant the world to us, and to me.”

Perkins said last year’s fumble weighed heavily on his mind for the entire year and he couldn’t wait for another chance for redemption.

“I was the last play that ultimately ended up costing us the game and I had to sit with that all year,” he said. “It hurt, so this year I really wanted to go out there and be aggressive. I just wanted to give everything I have to this team and not let them down again.”

If for no other reason, Perkins etched his name into Wahoo lore by burying the streak — the longest of its kind between rivals in FBS football — but for much, much more. 

Mendenhall, who credits the turnaround of Virginia’s football program to Perkins arrival in Charlottesville, didn’t miss a chance to praise him after the win over the Hokies.

Virginia QB Bryce Perkins is interviewed on the field following the Cavaliers’ 39-30 win over Virginia Tech.

“I don’t think there’s anything [Perkins] can’t do,” Mendenhall said. “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.

“I’ll also say I’m not so sure what happens without Robert Anae and Jason Beck coaching him. The points don’t just manifest accidentally. Bryce has been used really well and he’s responded really well, and he’s been coached really well and developed within two years from when he arrived.”

Against a stingy Tech defense, Perkins completed 20 of 33 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown, one interception. He also rushed for career-high 164 yards on 19 carries, and two additional TDs.

Now the Cavaliers move on to higher goals, facing defending national champion Clemson.

“That means we’ve got to get back to work Monday,” Perkins said. “We know what kind of test that’s going to be. We know what kind of team they are. We’re going to celebrate, put it behind us, go in the film room and prepare.”

Comments

  1. Carolyn Wright says:

    UVA played one heck of a game today on offense and defense.

    You beat the tar out of VT. One person, a VT fan of course, stated that VT defense did not play up to it’s potential. I answered very nicely that both teams played good football today but UVA outplayed VT. Don’t take our teams performance away from them.

  2. Sam Smith says:

    I had to chuckle a bit at the shout out to Anae from Mendenhall. After people practically falling to their knees and begging for a change in strategy that would better use Perkins’ gifts, he finally responded. And the burning drive to make up for what he perceived as a pivotal reason for last year’s loss — I don’t believe it, but he did — did Perkins get that from Anae too? That’s what propelled him to greatness on Friday.

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