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Virginia Beats Georgia Tech 40-36, 'Hoos Bowl Eligible for First Time Since 2011

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Joe Reed returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown Joe Reed returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown
Andre Levrone talks to his teammates following the 'Hoos 40-36 victory Andre Levrone talks to his teammates following the 'Hoos 40-36 victory
Kurt Benkert passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns in UVa's victory Kurt Benkert passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns in UVa's victory
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The Virginia football team is bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, as the Cavaliers rallied to beat Georgia Tech 40-36 on a rainy Saturday at Scott Stadium.

Senior safety Quin Blanding says, "That's what I came back for.  To change this program, and build this foundation.  That's what we built, and we're going to keep going up from here."

"This means a lot to us," says senior linebacker Micah Kiser.  "The guys in the Class of 2013, we came here, we were expecting to win early.  Didn't get it done.  Five long, hard years.  To finally get to a bowl game, and we can control our own destiny right now.  If we win out, our goal is to win the Coastal, but at the end of the day, we're finally going bowling, so that's sweet."

Senior running back Daniel Hamm adds, "I've been here as long as anybody on this team.  Going through all the struggles that we've been through.  All the hard things we've been through with Coach Mendenhall and his staff, it's so rewarding, just to get to that sixth win, and reach a milestone that I have get to reach here in my career."

Virginia trailed 14-13 at halftime time following a 92 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by sophomore Joe Reed.

The deficit would swell to 28-13 just 35-seconds into the 2nd half, as a Yellow Jackets' rushing touchdown was quickly followed by an interception return for a touchdown.

UVa would rally to tie the game, as Kurt Benkert found Andre Levrone and Doni Dowling for TD's, and the 2-point conversion made it 28-28.

A field goal and a safety for the 'Hoos gave them a 5-point lead, but Georgia Tech scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion to retake the lead with 3:10 to go in the game.

Virginia countered with a Benkert to Levrone 27 yard touchdown with 1:22 to play, and the defense held on to seal the victory.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, "When you give everything you have as a coach or a player or a person, and it works in your favor, it's a good feeling."

Benkert finished the day 21-of-43 with 260 yards and three touchdowns. 

Olamide Zaccheaus led the team with nine catches for 98 yards receiving.

The UVa defense held Georgia Tech to 220 yards rushing, which is 148 yards below the Yellow Jackets' season average.

Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC) will be on the road next Saturday, as the Cavaliers kick off at Louisville at 3:30 PM.