ATLANTA - Virginia rallied for the latest win in its comeback of a season, and now the Cavaliers find themselves in a most improbable spot.
Cedric Peerman rushed for 118 bruising yards, including the winning touchdown with 31/2 minutes left, and Virginia won its fourth straight with a 24-17 upset of No. 21 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Bouncing back from an early 14-3 deficit, the Cavaliers took over the top spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division - a scenario no one could have envisioned during a miserable September. Virginia lost three of its first four games by an average of 36 points.
'This is a team that never cracks,' quarterback Marc Verica said. 'It shows the kind of resolve this team has, coming back from being down two touchdowns on the road.'
Georgia Tech (6-2, 3-2 ACC) was off to its best start since 1990 and looked unstoppable on its first two possessions, scoring a pair of touchdowns. But the Cavaliers (5-3, 3-1) figured out the spread option offense, keeping the Yellow Jackets out of the end zone the rest of the way.
'I'm really disappointed,' said Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech's first-year coach. 'We made enough mistakes in about every area to lose the game twice over.'
After Scott Blair kicked a 39-yard field goal to tie the game at 17, Virginia drove 70 yards in eight plays. Peerman got loose on a 31-yard run and finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown, lunging for the pylon with 3:29 remaining to end Georgia Tech's four-game winning streak.
Virginia punted only once, outgained the Yellow Jackets 396-259 in total yards and finished with a big lead in time of possession (34:18 to 25:42), quite a feat against a run-focused offense. The Cavaliers converted 11-of-18 times on third down.
Could this possibly be the same group that lost to Southern Cal 52-7, Connecticut 45-10 and Duke 31-3?
'It took a little time for us to get going,' Peerman said. 'Our team has come together. We're more unified. We're playing better.'