The Virginia Cavaliers kicked off the 2020 football season on Saturday afternoon, welcoming the Duke Blue Devils to Charlottesville. Virginia overcame some sloppiness offensively to notch a 38-20 win, aided by stifling defense. That Virginia defense forced Duke into seven turnovers — five interceptions and two fumbles — as the Hoos beat Duke for the sixth straight time.
Virginia also added five sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, and the five interceptions tied the Hoos single game record. This has been a recent trend for the Blue Devils as they have turned the ball over 24 times over the six-game losing streak to the Cavaliers. UVA forced five turnovers last season, and tied the five interception mark (six total turnovers) they had against Daniel Jones and Duke in 2016.
In this year’s season-opener, Virginia got interceptions from JMU transfer D’Angelo Amos, Joey Blount, Nick Grant, and two from Brenton Nelson. Matt Gahm and Tucker Finkleston were credited with recovering fumbles, with Blount adding a forced fumble.
Here, you can see all five interceptions from Saturday’s game:
Let’s rank all seven of this season’s turnovers, based on how pretty they are and how important they were in the grand scheme of things.
7. Finkleston Fumble Recovery, 4th Quarter, 00:19 on clock
Not to take anything away from Tucker Finkleston’s fumble recovery, but it was just the icing on the cake at that point of the game. The recovery allowed Brennan Armstrong and the Hoos to assume the victory formation, sealing the deal officially.
6. Nelson Interception, 3rd Quarter, 7:30 on clock
This pick ended a Duke threat, but gave the Hoos the ball on their own 2-yard line. Armstrong’s second pick, which Duke would turn into a TD that gave them a 20-17 lead, happened shortly after this interception.
5. Grant Interception, 4th Quarter, 9:12 on clock
Nick Grant stifled any ideas Duke might have at a comeback attempt with this pick, giving Virginia the ball at their own 37-yard line. The Hoos went three-and-out after the pick, punting the ball back to Duke after ticking 2:40 off the clock.
4. Amos Interception, 2nd Quarter, 1:33 on clock
It didn’t result in any points — Armstrong threw a pick of his own three plays later — but Amos laid out for his first interception in a Virginia uniform. He gets lots of style points:
3. Gahm Fumble Recovery, 4th Quarter, 5:12 on clock
Duke tried to shake things up by putting Gunnar Holmberg in under center, but Blount just shook him up as he forced a fumble late in the 4th quarter. Gahm was there for the pick up and carried it five yards to the Duke 10-yard line. Wayne Taulapapa would find the end zone and push Virginia’s lead to 18 one play later.
2. Blount Interception, 4th Quarter, 11:20 on clock
Blount showed good awareness in close quarters as he snagged the ball near midfield. Armstrong would again take advantage of the extra possession by finding his new favorite target in 6-7 first year Lavel Davis Jr., giving the Hoos a more comfortable 31-20 lead.
1. Nelson Interception, 3rd Quarter, 1:43 on clock
This interception was the only one thrown by not-Chase Brice as Duke went with the trick play that had Jalon Calhoun throwing the ball. Nelson’s second pick of the game came at the Hoos’ 6-yard line, but Virginia would proceed to march 94-yards for a touchdown to retake the lead for good. Duke had scored 10 straight points to take the lead in the third. The Blue Devils were threatening again — they had marched to the Virginia 22-yard line — and had stifled the Hoos defensively. The play call made very little sense, but Virginia fans will take it.
Which was your favorite turnover? Leave a comment below.