Last week, in the wake of the shooting deaths of three Virginia football players, Virginia Tech coaches and players knew their season might be abbreviated.
Competing in their scheduled rivalry game was low on their priority list.
“If we play, we play,” linebacker Alan Tisdale said. “If we don’t, we’ll want to go down to Charlottesville, some of the players, and just show our respect. It’s football, but at the end of the day, it’s bigger than ball.”
The ACC and athletic departments from both schools came to that same conclusion on Monday, announcing the cancellation of Saturday’s Tech-UVa game in Blacksburg.
As the Cavaliers continue to grieve the deaths of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, the Hokies have tried to lend their support. Tech wore ribboned helmet stickers in last weekend’s game at Liberty. Tech receivers coach Fontel Mines — a former UVa football player — carried a V-sabres flag out of the tunnel and onto the field.
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“It just seemed like the absolute right thing to do for him, for UVa, for our brothers down the road,” Tech head coach Brent Pry said after the 23-22 victory over the Flames. “There’s a lot of connections between our two programs, a lot of relationships. And that’s probably the strongest one.”
The cancellation means Tech’s season ended at 3-8. In the aftermath of the Liberty win, the Hokies knew they might have played their final game.
“First and foremost, I want to be praying for those guys at UVa,” said running back Jalen Holston, who rushed for 99 yards and three touchdowns in his final college game. “They’re our brothers, our rivals down the road. Our hearts are with them. If this is the last game, it’s kind of sad knowing it, but it’s kind of good going off on a good note if it is the last game.”
Other Tech players also were at peace with a potential cancellation.
“I’m with whatever decision they make,” Tech defensive lineman TyJuan Garbutt said after the Liberty game. “If this is my last one, I’m glad that it ended how it did for me. It’s surreal. I don’t really know what to say about it, because in my mind, I kind of was prepared that it could possibly be my last one.”