Even with a nine-point lead and less than a minute on the clock, quarterback Bryce Perkins was not ready to celebrate Virginia finally breaking its Commonwealth Cup drought.
It was only a year ago, in his first experience with Virginia’s annual rivalry game against Virginia Tech, that Perkins botched a handoff in overtime that allowed the Hokies to extend their dominance in the series after a wild finish.
“I needed to see zeroes because I remembered last year,” Perkins said Friday after Virginia ended a 15-game losing streak to the 23rd-ranked Hokies and earned its first trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a 39-30 victory in Charlottesville, Va.
Perkins was a huge part of why the Cavaliers (9-3, 6-2) won, putting up 475 yards of offense. Brian Delaney kicked a go-ahead 48-yard field with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter, and Virginia sealed it with a defensive score, causing fans to spill onto the field in a wild celebration.
“I was the last play that ultimately ended up losing us the game. I had to sit with that all year and it hurt, so this game I really wanted to go out there and be aggressive and just give everything I could for the team and not to let them down again,” Perkins said.
Perkins ran for two long touchdowns and passed for another for the Cavaliers, who became the seventh different winner in as many years to capture the Coastal Division title. Delaney also kicked a 25-yard field goal for Virginia, and his last kick made up for a missed extra point early.
“How fitting after a missed extra point early that I thought was going to haunt us,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Hendon Hooker ran for one touchdown and threw for another for the Hokies (8-4, 5-3, No. 24 College Football Playoff), who came in having won six of seven games to surge into championship contention. A rallying defense and Hooker’s steady play drove the surge, but both came up short against Virginia.
at No. 17 Memphis 34, No. 18 Cincinnati 24: Brady White threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers beat the Bearcats for Memphis’ third straight American Athletic Conference West title and the right to host the league championship — and Cincinnati again — next week.
This will be the first time that the Tigers (11-1, 7-1, No. 18 CFP) will host a conference title game in program history. And the league championship will be a rematch between these teams after Memphis snapped a nine-game winning streak by the East Division champs. Cincinnati (10-2, 7-1, No. 19 CFP) hadn’t lost since being routed by Ohio State on Sept. 7.
Joseph Dorceus and Bryce Huff had two sacks apiece, and the Tigers finished with five. They came up with three turnovers, including an interception by Sanchez Blake Jr. with 1:35 left.
No. 19 Iowa 27, at Nebraska 24: Keith Duncan kicked a 48-yard field goal with a second left to lift the Hawkeyes past the Cornhuskers and keep them out of the postseason for a third consecutive season.
Iowa (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) overcame a sluggish second half offensively to beat Nebraska (5-7, 3-6) for a fifth straight year and second year in a row on a late field goal. Last year, the Hawkeyes won on a 41-yarder as time expired.
Iowa, which saw a 14-point lead get wiped out in the third quarter, started its final possession at its 26-yard line with 32 seconds left. Nate Stanley saw a long pass to Nico Ragaini get overturned to incomplete on video review but then completed a pair of 22-yard passes to Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Sam LaPorta to bring on the reliable Duncan.
The Huskers called two timeouts before Duncan drilled the winner down the middle.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz moved ahead of the man he replaced, Hayden Fry, on the Big Ten list for career conference wins. Ferentz has 97, behind only Ohio State’s Woody Hayes (153), Michigan’s Bo Schembechler (143) and the University of Chicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg (115).
No. 20 Boise State 31, at Colorado State 24: Jaylon Henderson accounted for three scores, defensive tackle David Moa came up with a big late sack, and the Broncos beat the Rams to finish undefeated in Mountain West Conference play for the first time.
Boise State (11-1, 8-0, No. 20 CFP) will host Hawaii next week in the Mountain West title game.
Henderson ran for a short score early in the fourth to give Boise State some breathing room. He also threw two touchdown passes, giving him eight over the last three games as he fills in for banged-up starter Hank Bachmeier and backup Chase Cord.
Patrick O’Brien threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns for Colorado State (4-8, 3-5). The Rams are 0-9 against Boise State.
No. 22 Appalachian State 48, at Troy 13: Zac Thomas passed for 326 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth score to lead the Mountaineers past the Trojans in the regular-season finale.
The win assured Appalachian State (11-1, 7-1 Sun Belt Conference, No. 25 CFP) of hosting the league title game against Louisiana next Saturday.
Thomas, Darrynton Evans, Thomas Hennigan and others delivered big plays for the Mountaineers, who reached the end zone on each of their first five possessions against Troy (5-7, 3-5).
Thomas was 28-for-34 passing, with his final attempt a 25-yard scoring strike to Evans to start the fourth quarter. He had a 12-yard touchdown run.
Apple Cup stays with Washington
Jacob Eason threw for 244 yards and one touchdown and ran for another, Richard Newton added a pair of short touchdown runs, and Washington kept possession of the Apple Cup for a seventh straight season with a 31-13 win over Washington State in Seattle.
Eason was excellent using his tight ends to pick apart Washington State’s defense in what could be his final home game after just one season with Washington. Eason seems destined for the NFL. The question is whether it will be after this season or if he’ll return for his senior year.
If this was it, he went out on a high note after Washington’s offense staggered through its last two games in scoring just 19 and 14 points against Oregon State and Colorado. Eason was 15-for-22 passing, and his favorite targets were tight ends Hunter Bryant and Cade Otton, who combined for nine receptions for 142 yards. Eason also hit Terrell Bynum on a perfectly placed 16-yard touchdown pass, and Eason added a three-yard score on a quarterback sneak.
The seven straight wins are the longest in the series since the Huskies won eight between 1974 and 1981. All seven have been by double digits.
After three consecutive years in which the Pac-12 North title was at stake for one or the other in the Apple Cup, this year’s clash had little buzz and no implications outside of potentially a slightly better bowl game assignment for the winner.
But the Huskies (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) have relished in their ability to stymie the Air Raid offense of Mike Leach and did it again. Washington State was held 28 points under its season average and didn’t find the end zone after Max Borghi’s one-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game.
Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon — the leading passer in the nation — threw for 308 yards on 48-for-62 passing, but nearly all of his throws were underneath and the Cougars (6-6, 3-6) couldn’t stretch the field vertically against Washington’s secondary. He was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season after entering with 45, including 11 in the last two games.