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Virginia Tech-Virginia football game now the season opener for both teams

Virginia Tech-Virginia football game now the season opener for both teams

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Bronco

Virginia football coach Bronco Mendenhall oversees a recent practice.

During most years, the Commonwealth Cup matchup between the Virginia and Virginia Tech football teams serves as the final game of the regular season for both programs.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is nothing like most years.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that Virginia Tech’s scheduled season opener against North Carolina State on Sept. 12 is being moved to Sept. 26 due to a rise in positive COVID-19 tests within the Wolfpack football team.

That means the Sept. 19 matchup between the Hokies and Cavaliers at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg is now the season opener for both teams.

On Monday, N.C. State announced that it was pausing all athletic activity due to “an identified cluster within its programs.” N.C. State did not reveal how many athletes had tested positive for COVID-19 or what sports they compete in.

The Wolfpack are adhering to the COVID-19 protocols outlined by the ACC Medical Advisory Group, which requires any student-athlete who tests positive to be isolated for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms and any student-athlete identified through contact tracing to quarantine for 14 days before returning to activity. With the scheduled season opener between N.C. State and Virginia Tech a little more than two weeks away, the decision was made to push that game back.

The Virginia Tech athletic program released a statement on the scheduling change, calling the move a “mutual decision.”

“After consultation with Atlantic Coast Conference officials, our counterparts at N.C. State and our campus leadership at Virginia Tech, the mutual decision has been made to move the football game between Virginia Tech and N.C. State at Lane Stadium to Saturday, Sept. 26,” the statement said. “Virginia Tech is now scheduled to open the 2020 football season on Saturday, Sept. 19 against the University of Virginia at Lane Stadium. We will continue to provide updates should any further changes to the 2020 schedule be deemed necessary.”

Both Virginia and Virginia Tech have seen their season opening opponent change three times due to the pandemic. The Cavaliers were originally scheduled to face Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Labor Day.

That game was nixed in late July, when the ACC announced a revised 2020 schedule that included one nonconference game and 10 conference games. The Cavaliers’ new schedule included a season-opening matchup with VMI on Sept. 11, but that game was cancelled after the Keydets opted to postpone their season to the spring.

Virginia could find a replacement for VMI on its schedule, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall said recently that he does not expect that to happen.

“The latest I’ve heard is it’s likely we will not replace VMI,” Mendenhall said Friday. “That’s the latest I’ve heard and so that then would lead to an opening game versus Virginia Tech. Again, it’s not definitive yet. Latest I’ve heard though is that’s the direction we’re headed.”

Virginia Tech was originally scheduled to open its season against Liberty at Lane Stadium on Sept. 5. The matchup against the Flames shifted to Nov. 7 and N.C. State became the Hokies’ season-opening opponent when the ACC revised its schedule in July.

Now, the Hokies will open the season against the Cavaliers for just the fourth time in program history and the first time since 1972.

Meeting virtually

The Virginia football team will hold a virtual meet the team day on Saturday.

The event replaces the annual in-person meet the team day at Scott Stadium, which can not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the Cavaliers that will be part of the event are defensive end Mandy Alonso, QB Brennan Armstrong, safety Joey Blount, receiver Terrell Jana, offensive tackle Dillon Reinkensmeyer, linebacker Charles Snowden, running back Wayne Taulapapa, linebacker Zane Zandier and head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

They will take part in a live Q&A that will be moderated by Dave Koehn, the Voice of the Cavaliers, on the official Facebook and Twitter pages of Virginia Athletics.

This hour-long Q&A will begin at 3 p.m. and is open to all fans.

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