Tech was clinging to a 14-13 lead when Virginia cornerback Chris Cook intercepted Tyrod Taylor in the end zone for the game's first turnover midway through the third quarter. But two plays later, Cavaliers quarterback Jameel Sewell and tailback Mikell Simpson mishandled an option pitch, which Kam Chancellor recovered for the Hokies and returned to the 10-yard-line.
Two Ryan Williams bursts later, Tech led 21-13.
"After that it all fell down," Groh said.
Why? The deficit was only eight points.
Virginia players had spoken throughout the week about this being their bowl, about ending Groh's five-game losing streak against Tech. And an eight-point margin crushed their spirit?
Again, the coaching staff is accountable.
"We made a pretty good go of it for a little while," Groh said of the game.
He might as well have been referring to his Virginia tenure, which included four straight bowl invites from 2002-05 but concluded with a six-game losing streak and a 59-53 record.
Senior linebacker Aaron Clark described the locker room emotions as "pretty raw. That's a tough one to deal with. A lot of the seniors are pretty heartbroken. …
"It's tough to go out like this. We really wanted to give this to Coach Groh. … He's a great guy, he's a great coach, and I love the guy."
As Clark spoke, Groh's family lingered. His daughter, Ashley Anne, was in tears, holding her children's hands. His wife, Anne, clutched a yellow rose in her right hand.
Al Groh had left the room.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.
With a rout, Groh likely heads for exit