Virginia Tech-Virginia, not so much.
In a finale that reflected the regular seasons for both, the Hokies won a coyote ugly affair, 16-6.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- VIDEO: Virginia's Mike London talks about conclusion of rough season
- Beamer talks about chippy nature of game
- VIDEO: Virginia's Jake McGee discusses what needs to be fixed on his team
- Jack Tyler on "brotherly love" between VT, U.Va.
- Hokies' gadgets a function of open date, big rivalry
- Virginia's Eli Harold downcast after loss
See more videos »
- College Basketball
See more topics »
Scott Stadium, Charlottesville
And that's not meant to disparage either squad.
After learning just before kickoff that Duke had clinched the ACC's Coastal Division with a victory at North Carolina, Tech, its title hopes dashed, could have lost its edge. Didn't happen.
Saddled with an eight-game losing streak, and with their home fans nearly outnumbered by rival faithful, the Cavaliers could have emailed in their final 2013 effort. Didn't happen.
But both teams are seriously flawed, Virginia far more so, as the play glaringly demonstrated.
The Cavaliers and Hokies combined for 16 penalties, 11 punts, three turnovers, several scuffles and one touchdown.
Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller, a true freshman no less, was brilliant with four pass breakups and an interception, and Virginia defensive end Eli Harold was dominant with three sacks among his seven solo tackles. But the defenses aren't good enough to excuse the compliant offenses.
Yet we could have expected nothing else from teams that rank 10th (Tech) and 13th Virginia) among 14 ACC teams in scoring.
"I wish I could have done a better job for them, coaching them," Virginia's Mike London said. "I love the effort of those guys and who they are."
London did nothing to quiet those who don't understand athletic director Craig Littlepage's decision to retain him for a fifth season with a four-year record of 18-31.
Failing to use a timeout in the waning seconds of the first half made little sense, as did the timing of his bringing quarterback Greyson Lambert off the bench: late in the third quarter, trailing by 10 and pinned at his own 12-yard-line.
London's most costly decision was disdaining a punt on fourth-and-11 from Tech's 35 with just more than one minute remaining in the first half. When David Watford's deep pass for E.J. Scott fell incomplete — why go deep there? — the Hokies had field position and plenty of time.
Sure enough, they drove 65 yards for the game's lone touchdown as Trey Edmunds turned a short toss from Logan Thomas into a 26-yard score and 16-6 lead.
The anger among Virginia faithful and disappointment among their Tech counterparts was evident in the crowd of 52,069, by far the smallest for a Hokies-Cavaliers game in Charlottesville since the 2000 expansion of Scott Stadium. The previous low was 58,555 in 2009.
But as the Hokies (8-4, 5-3 ACC) exited to their locker room, a 10th consecutive victory over the Cavaliers (2-10, 0-8) secured, a large contingent of maroon and orange chanted, "Ten more years, 10 more years."
If Duke's come-from-behind victory at North Carolina robbed the Hokies of any incentive, they certainly masked it well.
As the opening kickoff approached, defensive end James Gayle, helmet off, was woofin' at Virginia's sideline as Cavaliers offensive tackles Morgan Moses and Eric Smith stood stoically, helmets on, absorbing it all. Gayle said he was merely responding to Smith.
"I think 72's a freshman," Gayle added, referring to Smith's jersey number. "He's got a lot of heart. I think he's going to be a good player, but I think he just picked the wrong (guy) today. And he realized it at the end of the game. … I don't know what he was thinking, but he definitely made a mistake."
The game then quickly turned chippy, with one scrum near Tech's sideline knocking Hokies assistant coach Shane Beamer to the ground and sending London across the field to play peacemaker. Gayle and Moses had a brief sumo-like encounter.
"It was a little chippy," Hokies middle linebacker Jack Tyler said, "but I feel like most of the players knew each other, so I didn't think anything crazy was going to break out. A few shoves here and there. That's brotherly love. That's going to happen."
Tech's urgency was evident in coach Frank Beamer and his staff's play-calling.
Fullback Sam Rogers, off a reverse, threw a pass to Thomas that would have been a touchdown if not underthrown. The Hokies used a reverse on a kickoff and recovered a second-quarter onside kick.
None was a game-changer, but all showed a we-mean-business approach, Duke's victory notwithstanding.
"You have to give it up to Duke," Thomas said. "I think they lost their first two ACC games and then ran the table. They deserved it. They went out and did it. We didn't handle our side of it. We didn't handle our business when it mattered."
The Hokies at least have a bowl ahead. Conversely, the Cavaliers ponder their first winless ACC record since 1981.
"We want to take this season," Watford said, "and remember how bad we all felt."