Despite getting two touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown from quarterback Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech couldn’t quite overcome Cincinnati in a back-and-forth affair, falling 35-31 to the Bearcats in the Military Bowl held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Monday afternoon.
With the loss, the Hokies closed the season with a 6-7 overall record and saw their streak of consecutive winning seasons come to an end at 25. The Bearcats finished with an 11-2 record and became just the third 11-win team in program history.
Tech led 31-28 late in the fourth quarter, but Cincinnati marched 64 yards in five plays and scored on a Michael Warren’s 8-yard run to take a 35-31 lead with 1:29 remaining. The Hokies drove to the Cincinnati 48 on the ensuing drive, but on second-and-10, Willis’ pass was intercepted by James Wiggins at the Cincinnati 17 with 33 seconds left. The Bearcats then took a knee to run out the clock and seal the victory.
Arguably the biggest play in the game came early in the fourth quarter after the Hokies’ Dylan Rivers intercepted a pass and returned it to the Cincinnati 12. The Hokies, who led 31-28 and had a great chance to increase their lead, drove to the Cincinnati 3, where they faced fourth-and-1. Head coach Justin Fuente elected to go for it, but Willis was sacked and fumble and Cincinnati regained possession.
Willis paced a Tech attack that amassed 443 yards. He completed 20 of 31 for 219 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, and he also rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown. He threw touchdown passes of 21 and 2 yards to Eric Kumah and Chris Cunningham, respectively.
Deshawn McClease rushed for 102 yards on 13 carries as well for the Hokies.
Warren rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries for the Bearcats, who finished with 462 yards.
More on the Military Bowl is available at HokieSports.com.