Benkert rallied Virginia past Georgia Tech, 40-36

Virginia's Jordan Mack (37) celebrates with his teammates in the end zone after forcing a safety against Georgia Tech during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Zack Wajsgras)

By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Kurt Benkert hit Andre Levrone with a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining Saturday and Virginia rallied past Georgia Tech, 40-36.

The Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) achieved bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011 in the wildest of ways, driving for the go-ahead score after the Yellow Jackets had gone ahead on a touchdown of their own with 3:10 remaining. Benkert completed three straight passes on the winning drive.

The Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-3) had driven 90 yards in nine plays to take the lead. TaQuon Marshall twice kept the drive alive by running the ball on third down, the second time to get to Virginia’s 33. On the next play, he found Ricky Jeune on a slant route and the wide receiver took it untouched into the end zone. A two-point conversion run by Marshall made the score 36-33, preventing Virginia from winning with the field goal, but the Cavaliers didn’t need one as Benkert led them downfield.

His touchdown pass to Levrone was his third of the day and the second for the tandem. Levrone also caught a 34-yarder, and Doni Dowling caught a 28-yarder.

The second half got off to a wild start as Georgia Tech got touchdowns on the first two plays from scrimmage to open a 28-13 lead.

Marshall ran 78 yards after the Yellow Jackets got the ball to start the half. Virginia started at its 25 after the ensuing kickoff, and Benkert’s pass for Olamide Zaccheaus instead found middle linebacker Bruce Jordan-Willing, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Only 35 seconds had come off the clock.

After Virginia rallied in the closing minutes, the Yellow Jackets drove to the Cavaliers’ 37, but on fourth down, Marshall was flushed from the pocket, scrambled toward his own sideline and threw a pass toward no one in particular that landed out of bounds, setting off a celebration at Scott Stadium.

THE TAKEAWAY

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets continue to thrive on big plays. Through three quarters, they had 290 yards of offense, but 161 of them came on three plays – passes of 49 and 34 yards by Marshall and the quarterback’s 78-run to open the second half. They finished with 399 yards to Virginia’s 357.

Virginia: The Cavaliers made a nice recovery after two consecutive lopsided losses. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he addressed bowl eligibility for the first time this week, then told his team the only way they were going to make it happen was by getting back to doing things the way they did earlier in the season.

UP NEXT

The Yellow Jackets return home to face Virginia Tech in a game that could be key in the Coastal Division race.

Virginia goes back on the road to face Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville.