“Today was just all a matter of execution and staying consistent,” Tech defensive back Myles Sims said. “I know over the season, we’ve been on and off. Today we just really focused on the main thing and sticking to our keys, what we had to get accomplished and executing at the highest level. It’s a good feeling to win on the road. It’s a good feeling to go back home with a dub. It’s time to just enjoy this time that we have right now and roll over to the next week and focus on what’s next to accomplish.”
The Jackets (5-4, 4-2 ACC) rolled up 489 yards of offense and held the Cavaliers to 119 yards rushing. Tech next travels to Clemson (5-4, 2-4 ACC) on Saturday at a time to be determined.
Smith put a first nail in Virginia’s coffin with a 10-yard touchdown run, making the score 38-10 early in the fourth quarter. Virginia tried to lift the lid off that coffin with a 75-yard drive in 2 minutes, 10 seconds that ended with quarterback Anthony Colandrea’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Pace – but that would be the last sign of life from the Cavaliers (2-7, 1-4 ACC).
Haynes broke a 43-yard touchdown run less than a minute later, providing the final score and the 45-17 result. The 45 points scored by Tech were the most the Jackets have scored at Virginia, and the 28-point win was the program’s largest margin of victory at UVA.
“To have a win like we did last week, and then to come out and prepare, to have the right mindset and put the work in this week to put us in a position to come out here today and have a good team win, I thought was important,” Tech coach Brent Key said. “I thought it was important that we were able to put one game behind us, prepare the way you’re supposed to prepare, but also have the mindset the right way to be able to play for four quarters. And I thought that’s what the guys did.”
Tech began the day by forcing an early turnover. Defensive tackle Eddie Kelly forced a rushed throw by Tony Muskett, whose deep pass was picked off by Sims at his own 11.
Kelly’s hit knocked Muskett from the game, and he did not return.
Virginia got the ball back after a Tech punt and put together an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Colandrea rolling to his right, stopping and throwing back to the middle of the end zone for tight end Joshua Rawlings for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Three minutes later Tech got on the board with a 41-yard field goal off the right foot of Aidan Birr.
Tech took its first lead of the day at the 8:42 mark of the second quarter. King called his own number on a first down from the Virginia 2 and darted up the middle and into the end zone, making the score 10-7. That capped a 16-play drive that took 6:18 off the clock.
On the ensuing drive, Kenan Johnson got his helmet on the ball that Colandrea was carrying and forced a fumble. Jaylon King recovered it at midfield.
“For a little while we were going back and forth, and it was competitive football,” UVA coach Tony Elliott said. “And then we started making some critical mistakes, and they found some answers and made some adjustments that we could not adjust back to.”
Tech didn’t capitalize on that miscue, but did after a UVA punt and a good return by Dominick Blaylock put the ball at the Virginia 48. Four plays later, on third down, Haynes King kept it again and this time sprinted in from 34 yards out, putting the Jackets ahead 17-7.
With 92 seconds left in the half, Tech got the ball on its own 30 and, in five plays, moved to the Virginia 33. On a third-and-14 call, Smith ran over right tackle and broke through a small hole to spring 33 yards for a Tech touchdown.
Will Bettridge kicked a 39-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer, making it a 24-10 game at the break.
Tech ran for 195 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per rush in the first half.
“We challenged the guys at halftime to stay in the moment, to play together, to lay it on the line,” Key said. “All that mattered was that moment. It wasn’t the outcome of the game, it wasn’t the outcome of those plays, it was just staying in the moment. I thought they did that.”
King opened the scoring in the second half, this time with his arm. His 58-yard pass to Eric Singleton Jr. down the right side of the field put the Jackets up 31-10 less than three minutes into the third period.
Tech took that lead into the fourth quarter and eased its way to victory from there.