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Virginia Tech Dominates Every Facet to Beat Virginia 55-17 and Win the Commonwealth Cup

Bhayshul Tuten 1 VT UVA 2023 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Going in, most expected this to be a close one especially after Virginia Tech struggled in a 35-28 loss to NC State and Virginia just beat Duke 30-27 last week for some momentum entering this game. Add in the classic rivalry cliché of throwing out the records and most assumed this would be a close, four-quarter game.

But there's a reason why these games are played on the field and in this year's Commonwealth Cup, it was all Virginia Tech from start to finish.

Virginia Tech beat Virginia to improve to 6-6 on the season including 5-3 in the ACC. With the win, the Hokies have secured their first bowl game appearance of the Brent Pry era and doubled last year's three wins. This is also Tech's third-straight win over UVA and its 20th in 22 matchups this century. Virginia Tech's 55 points are the most in the history of the Commonwealth Cup, surpassing the 52 that the Hokies had in victories in 2005 and 2016 over UVA.

This was a dominant performance from start to finish with the Hokies being able to move the ball at will while Tech's defense opened this game with three-straight 3 and outs followed by a Mansoor Delane INT on what would have been the fourth 3 and out. UVA didn't earn a first down by their offensive ability till their last drive of the first half with a pair of sacks pushing UVA out of the redzone and keeping them off the scoreboard.

Tech kept it up in the second half with a trio of touchdowns and a field goal including a 94-yard kick return TD from Bhayshul Tuten plus a pair of Da'Quan Felton receiving touchdowns that included tons of long gains after the catch. Tech's defense gave up a couple big plays of their own in the third quarter, but Tech was fairly sharp overall widening it to the point where VT started getting their backups in for most of the first quarter as they did at Boston College just a couple weeks ago.

Virginia Tech's offensive success was built largely around their great success at establishing the run as they had 245 yards on the ground while averaging an impressive 6.8 yards per carry. Tech also took plenty of shots down the field in this game to pair with it and hit a couple for big plays including four pass plays for over 30 yards.

Overall, the Hokies outgained UVA 500-286 while averaging 8.3 yards per play compared to only 3.8 yards per play for UVA.

Meanwhile, Tech's run defense shut down a struggling UVA rushing attack allowing only seven yards on the ground with UVA running backs only having 55 yards on 19 carries, with 36 of those yards coming on UVA's final drive. Tech give up a few big plays to UVA's passing attack in the second half but kept Anthony Colandrea in check for the first half of the rout while also holding Malik Washington to 35 yards on his first seven catches before the star UVA receiver hit his stride to have 14 catches for 115 yards.

Special teams were also firing on all cylinders with Tuten's kick return TD making him the first Hokie with multiple kick return touchdowns in a season since David Wilson in 2010. There was also a muffed punt recovery by Dante Lovett, a pair of field goal from John Love including a career-long from 47.

Bhayshul Tuten was the biggest star of the day dominating on offense and special teams with 16 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown plus a 94-yard kick return TD that included him waving to Tech fans in the stands for the 20-30 yards of it. After bizarrely having only two touches last week, the NC A&T transfer was featured in this game and shined in a big way.

Kyron Drones was a big play machine when he did get his completions going 10-22 for 244 yards and three touchdowns while adding 50 rushing yards. Drones may not have had his best day but he made his best plays count while also being more than game on the ground as an effective part of the rushing attack in this game.

Da'Quan Felton had his seventh and eighth 30+ yard plays of the season, both of which went for touchdowns, on his way to having three catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Dae'Quan Wright also shined with three catches for 64 yards while Stephen Gosnell added a 44-yard touchdown on a big fourth down conversion early in the game. Malachi Thomas had 29 rushing yards and a touchdown while Tucker Holloway had a 33-yard touchdown run.

Cole Nelson was one of Tech's many defensive stars with six tackles including two sacks while Pheldarius Payne had seven tackles including three for loss with one sack plus a pass breakup and QB hurry. Alan Tisdale had eight tackles including 0.5 sacks plus two QB hurries while Norell Pollard added two tackles for loss with one sack. Mansoor Delane had five tackles plus an interception.

This was a dominant performance from start to finish, the likes of which everyone associated with Virginia Tech will be ecstatic about. Brent Pry has preached playing complimentary football since his arrival and this game was the perfect culmination of that.

Just two months ago, a night like this routing UVA and clinching a bowl game seemed impossible especially after the Hokies fell to 1-3 following a loss to Marshall. However, the Hokies made some offensive adjustments, cleaned some things up defensively, and never gave up fighting the rest of the way to put together some dominant displays with five ACC victories by three scores or more capped off with tonight's win to keep the Commonwealth Cup and reach the first bowl game of the Brent Pry era.

There's no doubt that Virginia Tech has made on the field strides in the second year of the Brent Pry era. After a decade of decline in Blacksburg with a brief blip of 19 wins in 2016 and 2017, the light appears to be at the end of the tunnel for Virginia Tech Football with hopes of ascending again that can produce more euphoric scenes like the one tonight with Tech fans storming the field in what they proudly call Lane Stadium North.

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