After a slow start, the Virginia Cavaliers put forth a commanding performance to pick up a pivotal win in the Coastal Division as the Hoos stomped the Duke Blue Devils, 48-14. With the win, Virginia improved to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in ACC play and halted a two-game losing streak.
It was the first full game for the Cavaliers without All-American cornerback Bryce Hall, but the defense stepped up as they forced five turnovers in the decisive win. Virginia had just one sack in the game, but registered five tackles for loss and held Duke to just 14 first downs — five of which came in the fourth quarter — and 2-for-14 (14%) on third down. Chris Moore was everywhere with 12 total tackles, a team-high. Zane Zandier had a team-high three pass break ups, but De’Vante Cross — who got the start for Hall — finished with two.
Offensively, the Hoos amassed 309 yards and five rushing touchdowns as Bryce Perkins rushed for a career-best three touchdowns in the game to go with 62 yards. Running back Wayne Taulapapa added 77 yards and two touchdowns. In the air, Perkins 13-for-26 and 141 yards and hit his favorite target Hasise Dubois four times for 62 yards.
Virginia started the game with the same issues they had against Miami as the Cavaliers ended a promising drive with no points after a Perkins interception in the end zone. Duke couldn’t take advantage, going five plays before punting back to Virginia.
Back-to-back impressive catches from Dubois — the first for 13 yards, the second for 23 yards — got Virginia’s offense clicking and moving down the field. Perkins found Tanner Cowley for 19 yards on the next play, and hit Joe Reed for 12 to put the Cavaliers at the Duke 5-yard line. It took three attempts, but Perkins scored the first Virginia touchdown in seven quarters to give the Hoos a 7-0 lead with 11:10 left in the first half.
The Virginia defense helped set up the offense for success as Brenton Nelson picked off a pass from Quentin Harris. Nelson did an incredible job of getting his hands under the ball and keeping his knee off the ground, ensuring the call stood up after review. Two rushes for four yards apiece set up another third down situation inside the opponent 25-yard line, but Taulapapa was stopped short on the next try. Delaney connected on a 30-yard field goal to push Virginia’s advantage to 10-0 just over three minutes later.
Duke tried to convert a 4th-and-1 near midfield, but Noah Taylor and Eli Hanback sniffed it out for the stuff and the turnover on downs. After getting sacked on first down for a loss of six, Perkins found Terrell Jana for a 13-yard reception and rushed seven yards for a first down. It appeared Dubois made another incredible catch along the sideline, but it was overturned as his toe was barely on the sideline. Duke was flagged for offensive pass interference on the play, giving Virginia the ball at the 2-yard line.
Things got interesting as the refs initially ruled that Perkins fumbled the ball in the end zone, but a review showed he crossed the goal line for a touchdown and the 17-0 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half. After Duke’s offense picked up two of its three first half first downs, Taylor kept his stellar play going with a forced fumble. Mandy Alonso recovered the ball, giving Virginia possession with :56 left in the first half. The Hoos took three shots downfield but couldn’t convert, and Duke knelt to burn the clock.
Defensively, the Cavaliers were nearly perfect in the first half as they came away with two turnovers (one interception, one fumble recovery), and limited Duke to just 73 yards of total offense. Harris went 7-for-14 with 27 yards and an interception in the first half, and the Blue Devils went 0-for-5 on third down attempts.
On the other side of the ball, Virginia had 153 yards of offense in the first half, led by Perkins’ 111 passing yards. He also added 41 yards and two touchdowns with his legs.
Right off the bat, the Virginia defense kept things going in the second half as Charles Snowden fell on a bad hand off by the Blue Devils. Virginia got possession at the Duke 21-yard line, but couldn’t get a first down and settled for a 33-yard field goal from Delaney for the 20-0 advantage.
Virginia’s put together another impressive drive on its next possession as the Hoos went 70 yards in eight plays, capped by a touchdown run from Taulapapa. The Hoos picked up first downs on three consecutive plays thanks to a 22-yard pass to Dubois, a 17-yard rush from Tavares Kelly, and an 11-yard rush from Perkins before the TD run.
Duke crossed midfield for the first time in the game with just under six minutes left in the third quarter thanks to two big runs from their punter; with one coming on a broken play and one on a designed run. The Blue Devils would end the scoreless outing with a 36-yard touchdown pass three plays later, cutting Virginia’s lead to 27-7.
Joe Reed returned the favor immediately, returning his fifth career kick for a touchdown as he took the kick off 95 yards for the score and the 34-7 lead. Another forced fumble by the Hoos — the fourth caused turnover of the game — gave possession right back to the home team with just under four minutes left in the third quarter. Virginia would need just five plays to go 21 yards as Perkins scampered into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day.
Another Duke interception — this one by Joey Blount — kept Virginia’s offense and Duke’s tired defense on the field. Blount returned it to the Duke 40-yard line, and Taulapapa followed it up with a 31-yard rush to the 9-yard line to end the third quarter. Taulapapa got the final nine yards on his next carry, giving the Hoos a commanding 48-7 lead with 14:54 remaining.
Lindell Stone — who entered the game in the fourth quarter for Perkins — threw an interception in the end zone, giving Duke the ball with just under seven minutes to play and the game out of hand. Duke scored a garbage time touchdown with 2:41 remaining against the defense’s backups.
Next up, Virginia heads to Louisville for a game that is scheduled to kick off at 3:30pm ET.