The Virginia Cavaliers picked up a pivotal game in the ACC Coastal division with a huge 28-14 win over the Duke Blue Devils. Virginia improved to 5-2 (3-1 ACC) with the win, and put themselves in a great position in the conference.
UVA dominated the game from the get-go, out-gaining Duke 376-320 and using an incredible defensive performance to hold the Blue Devils to just 14 points. Bryce Perkins was electric for the Hoos, going 20-for-32 (63%) for 189 yards and a touchdown pass in the air with 61 yards and two rushing touchdowns on the ground.
Olamide Zaccheaus led all receivers with 66 yards on 10 receptions, and he went 1-for-1 passing in the game. Jordan Ellis didn’t play the second half due to injury, but had 55 yards in the first half.
Defensively, Bryce Hall and Juan Thornhill each came up with an interception, and Chris Peace had 2.5 of the team’s four sacks.
Duke’s Daniel Jones struggled against Virginia yet again, going 22-for-40 for 240 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Virginia started with the ball after a 37 yard return to the UVA 39 yard line. Zaccheaus connected with Perkins for a nine yard pick up on the first play from scrimmage, and the Hoos picked up a first down two plays later from Ellis. The Cavaliers methodically marched down the field, using a balanced rushing and passing game to set up 3rd-and-1 from the Duke 23-yard line. Perkins faked the handoff to Ellis and called his own number, using downfield blocks from Zaccheaus and Ellis to scamper into the end zone and put the Hoos up 7-0. The first drive used just 3:39 off the clock and went 61 yards in eight plays.
The defense picked up where they left off last week as they absolutely stuffed every rushing attempt on Duke’s first drive. After Daniel Jones’s attempt on 3rd-and-7 sailed incomplete, the Blue Devils kicked back to the Hoos. Tavares Kelly returned the punt 43 yards to the Duke 45-yard line to set up outstanding field position for Perkins and the Cavaliers.
After getting stopped on the first three downs, Coach Mendenhall elected to go for it on 4th-and-3 from the Duke 38 and Ellis easily picked that up with a seven yard rush up the middle. A 15-yard personal foul penalty on Ryan Nelson backed the Hoos up and a first down sack of Perkins put the Cavaliers in a bind. Perkins connected with Hasise Dubois to set up another 4th-and-3, this time from the Duke 29-yard line. Coach Mendenhall chose to go for it again, but aimed for the fences with a deep ball to Kelly in the end zone. The pass fell harmlessly to the ground after the Duke defender just ran straight through Kelly, but no flags were thrown and Virginia turned it over on downs.
Duke’s second drive was much like the first. Senior cornerback Tim Harris broke up a deep pass by Jones, the Hoos jammed the rushing attempt on second down, and an incomplete pass ended the offensive thread from the Blue Devils.
The Hoos started their next drive with outstanding field position again, this time at the Duke 38-yard line thanks to a 27-yard return by Chris Sharp. Perkins connected with Joe Reed for a 27-yard pick up at the six-yard line, and two plays later Perkins picked up his second touchdown of the game to put the Hoos up 14-0 early in the second quarter. On the play, Perkins made an athletic reach for the pylon, diving for the touchdown:
Another three-and-out by Duke and a kick interference call against the Blue Devils set up good field position for Virginia again, giving the Hoos the ball at midfield. Zaccheaus somehow pulled in a difficult catch and managed to pick up the first down. A defensive pass interference call against Duke kept the Virginia drive alive, but couldn’t pick up another first down and elected to kick a field goal. Brian Delaney, who was perfect last week against Miami, pushed the kick wide right, and the Hoos came up empty handed in the red zone for the second time in the game.
Duke put together a more successful drive on their next possession, reaching the Virginia 41-yard line after a 17-yard scramble from Jones on 3rd-and-11. On the next play, Jones tried a deep ball to the end zone, but Juan Thornhill came up with his third interception in two games to give the ball back to the Cavaliers.
Virginia was unable to get anything going and had their first three-and-out of the game. The Blue Devils once again got things moving, converting two third downs before a holding penalty set up a long 3rd-and-14 for Duke. Chris Peace broke through the line and got to Jones, sacking him for a loss of six yards and giving the Hoos another shot on offense with just under two minutes before the end of the half.
Things didn’t go smoothly as Perkins attempted a pass beyond the line of scrimmage and Ellis left the field with an apparent injury, but a beautiful tiptoe catch on the sidelines by Dubois prolonged the drive. Virginia tried a 51-yard field goal as time expired, but Delaney once again pushed the ball wide to maintain the Cavaliers’ 14-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Hoos dominated the first half, out gaining the Blue Devils 204-82. All five of Duke’s first downs came on third down plays as the Virginia defense made every play incredibly difficult for the home team. Jones went 7-for-14 for 48 yards and an interception in the first half, and Duke’s dynamic wide receiver TJ Rahming was limited to 11 yards on three receptions.
Perkins went 11-for-17 for 110 yards in the air and added 31 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Dubois and Zaccheaus each had four receptions in the first half, and Ellis rushed for 55 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, Zane Zandier led the team with six tackles, followed by Charles Snowden with five. Thornhill had the lone turnover of the game with his interception, and added three tackles.
Duke got the ball to second half, and stared with a 22-yard completion to get them near midfield. It looked like Zane Zandier picked off a rebounded ball, but it had hit the turf before touching the Duke receiver. On the next play, Jones found Chris Taylor streaking down the sideline, and thanks to a botched zone, he ran into the end zone untouched to make it 14-7.
With Jordan Ellis still on the sideline, Virginia turned to PK Kier and Chris Sharp to pick up some of the running burden with the duo combining for 25 yards and two first downs on their first three carries. Perkins made an incredible pass to Jamari Peacock for an 18 yard gain on 3rd-and-4, and kept moving with a completion to Zaccheaus for another first down two plays later. The offense stalled, but Delaney finally connected on his third attempt of the day—a 37-yarder—to push Virginia’s lead to 17-7 with 6:45 to play in the third quarter.
Bryce Hall picked up a dumb penalty after throwing down the Duke player out of bounds, but the defense stood tall and he redeemed himself breaking up a pass at midfield on third down. On the ensuing punt, Sharp called for the fair catch but drew a flag when the Duke coverage player decided to step over him and caught him in the head.
Zaccheaus made a catch caught behind the line of scrimmage turn into an 11-yard gain and a first down on the first play from scrimmage, and Perkins picked up back-to-back first downs with his legs. The drive stalled at the Duke 25-yard line after a sack and a couple incompletions, but Delaney was true again (this time from 42 yards) to put the Hoos up 20-7.
Virginia picked up their second interception of the day on Duke’s next drive, this time courtesy of Bryce Hall. On the play, Jones chucked the ball 41 yards down the field, but Hall got the inside track on the wide receiver and held on tight for the pick. His INT celebration was arguably better than the pick.
Much like the the drive that followed the first interception, the UVA offense struggled, with Perkins once again throwing the ball beyond the line of scrimmage and ending in a three-and-out. A 50-yard punt from Lester Coleman gave Duke the ball at their own 41-yard line, and the Blue Devils put together an efficient scoring drive capped with a touchdown thrown by Rahming with 10:46 left in the game.
Lamont Atkins rushed for one first down on the next UVA drive, but Perkins couldn’t connect with Reed on 3rd-and-6 and Coleman punted to set up the Blue Devils at their own 12-yard line. The Virginia defense allowed one 11-yard pickup for Duke before overwhelming the Duke O-Line with three straight sacks.
Kelly had another outstanding kick return, setting up Virginia at the Duke 28-yard line after a 29-yard play. Two straight completions to Zaccheaus gave the Hoos a first down at the 16-yard line. On the next down, on what looked like a completely broken play, Perkins avoided a sack and somehow found Evan Butts in the end zone. Butts climbed a ladder to pull the ball down, securing it and giving the Hoos breathing room.
Coach Mendenhall went for the two point conversion, and the Cavaliers extended their lead to 28-14 with 3:58 left in the game.
Duke was unable to sustain a drive, burning the clock down to 1:28 before turning it over on downs just inside midfield. Virginia played it conservatively and punted back to Duke who ran out of time to secure the UVA win.
Virginia got a ton of support in Wallace Wade from the Cavalier faithful:
Next up, Virginia hosts North Carolina on October 27. Kick off is scheduled for 12:20.