The UVA offense, led by outgoing quarterback Bryce Perkins, put up some fireworks of their own to match those exploding around the stadium. Only LSU – currently the No. 1 team in the country – scored more points on Florida this year, and Perkins, who was playing in his final game as a Cavalier, threw for four touchdowns and broke the UVA career record for total offense, amassing 7,910 yards in his two years at UVA.
Photos: Our Favorite Shots from a Hard-Fought Orange Bowl
The University of Virginia football team capped off a remarkable season with UVA’s first-ever appearance in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Monday, and was supported every step of the way by the many students, alumni, parents, staff and fans who made their way to Miami or watched around the world.
Though the Hoos ultimately fell to the Florida Gators 36-28, UVA fans found plenty to love during the hard-fought game.
On the defensive side, UVA’s squad stayed tough, persistent and determined, thrilling the crowd with a first-quarter interception and coming up with key stops and takeaways at critical moments.
“I’m really proud of my team, the culture that we’ve established, the competitive spirit, the intensity and the camaraderie that’s displayed from beginning to end,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in the post-game press conference. “We’re on a mission to just simply establish that you can have world-class academics and be at the top tier of college football, as well. That’s what’s happening at the University of Virginia. We were a few plays short today in our execution to win the game, but it was not because of a lack of belief or confidence or ability.”
“It meant the world,” Perkins said, reflecting on his final game and season as a Cavalier. “Not just what we did, but how we did it … how every year the unbroken growth of this team and the spirit and the bond of this team is unmatched.”
Monday night highlights for UVA fans included a beautiful 34-yard touchdown pass from Perkins to wide receiver Terrell Jana, set up by Nick Grant’s interception one play earlier. A few drives later, Perkins and Hasise Dubois connected on a Sports Center-worthy touchdown, as Perkins scrambled away from several defenders and Dubois made a leaping catch in the end zone.
Two more touchdowns followed in the second half, one from fourth-year wide receiver Joe Reed on a 7-yard pass from Perkins, and another catch by Dubois with 38 seconds left on the game clock.
The highlights were not limited to the field. Thousands of UVA fans gathered at tailgates around Hard Rock Stadium, enjoyed great performances by the Cavalier Marching Band, cheerleaders and dance teams, heard from (and ran with) UVA President Jim Ryan and Director of Athletics Carla Williams, and joined arms with old friends – and new ones – for many rousing renditions of the “Good Old Song.”
“You always know, anywhere you go – it could be the moon – you will have this kind of welcome and community from UVA,” alumnus David Thompson, a past president of the UVA Club of Atlanta, said as he looked around a packed tailgate in the shadow of the stadium.
Indeed, the sense of pride and community was palpable, from hours (or days) before kickoff until the very end. Take a look at some more of our favorite photos from, as Ryan and Williams put it before the game, UVA’s first Orange Bowl, but surely not its last.