Georgia Tech humbles Virginia, hands ‘Hoos first loss going away

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Virginia's rushing attack struggled mightily to the tune of 3.2 yards per carry, compared to Georgia Tech's 9.2.  Photo: Bill Ross Virginia's rushing attack struggled mightily to the tune of 3.2 yards per carry, compared to Georgia Tech's 9.2. Photo: Bill Ross

Virginia gained 297 yards of total offense on Saturday. Georgia Tech gained 210 on its first four plays.

The Wahoos trailed 14-0 four minutes into the game, 35-7 at halftime, and 56-20 when it mercifully came to an end. Paul Johnson’s spread-option attack netted 594 yards in all, the most a Virginia team has given up in more than a decade.

“It’s a humbling experience when you come in and get beat like that,” said UVA coach Mike London. “When you don’t execute well on defense or offense, things like that happen.”

Virginia last surrendered so many points in 1999, a 63-21 loss to Illinois in the MicronPC.com Bowl. Not since 1975 had UVA given up more points to a conference opponent. (Wake Forest topped a Sonny Randle-coached team, 66-21, 37 years ago).

The Ramblin’ Wreck racked up 461 yards rushing but drew first blood on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Tevin Washington to Zach Laskey on their opening offensive play.

“That was just luck,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s the matchup. You get the guy on the linebacker, and he played the out route and we ran a wheel route. It was a great throw by Tevin and a great route by Zach.”

An inexperienced UVA defense allowed seven additional plays of 20 yards or more. Tech running back Orwin Smith ran for 137 yards on just six carries. Washington added 93 yards on the ground. Eight Yellow Jackets averaged at least seven yards a clip.

Conversely, Cavalier tailback Perry Jones totaled just 15 yards on five carries for an offense that failed to produce 100 rushing yards for the second consecutive week. A year ago, Jones amassed 149 yards as Virginia upset No. 12 Georgia Tech, 24-21.

“We got handled today,” London said. “They did a good job executing every phase of their offense and defense. My hat goes off to them.

“Ultimately, the responsibility lies with me with the product that’s out on the field. I didn’t do a very good job of getting the team ready to play this team.”

Cavalier quarterback Michael Rocco finished 15-25 for 143 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Phillip Sims entered the game with 12:32 to play and his team trailing 49-7. The Alabama transfer completed six of eight passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns.

UVA (2-1) travels to No. 17 TCU (2-0) this Saturday, before returning home to face Louisiana Tech (2-0).