Duke rallies to stun Virginia, 35-22

Anthony Boone threw two touchdown passes and Brandon Connette
ran for one touchdown and threw for another Saturday as Duke
rebounded from a 22-0 deficit and stunned reeling Virginia 35-22
Saturday.

The Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) converted
four fourth-down plays in the second half to come all the way back,
and their defense held the Cavaliers to five straight
three-and-outs.

The loss was the fourth in a row for Virginia (2-5, 0-3), which
gained just 7 yards in the third quarter after a fast start that
made it seem like it would finally snap its losing streak. Kevin
Park ran for two TDs and caught a scoring pass for Virginia, but it
all came in the first half.

Connette, who came in at quarterback and twice gained a yard on
fourth down to keep Blue Devils drives alive, faked a handoff on
another fourth down and flipped a short pass to Braxton Deaver, who
took it 47 yards for the winning TD. Three plays earlier, Anthony
Harris dropped an interception for Virginia.

Deaver later caught a 24-yard scoring pass from Boone to seal
it.

The Cavaliers tried to rally, but even a huge break wasn’t
enough. On a third-and-18 play from their 27, Watford’s pass for
Darius Jennings sailed high and off the chest of defender Kelby
Brown. The ball bounced high in the air, and Kevin Parks pulled it
in for the most improbable 48-yard reception.

Two runs by Parks gained another 25 yards, but facing
fourth-and-5 from the Duke 22, Virginia sent Alec Vozenilek in to
try a 39-yard field goal. It was good, but was negated by a false
start penalty, and when he tried from 44 yards, his kick sailed
wide left.

Boone then hooked up with Deaver, and the Blue Devils tacked on
a late field goal.

Virginia was rolling early in what many saw as a must-win game.
The Cavaliers outgained Duke 175-45 in the first quarter, opening a
14-0 lead, and made it 22-0 with 5:49 remaining in the first
half.

But an exchange of punts set Duke up at its 38. Boone had
completions of 14 yards to Brandon Braxton and 25 yards to Deaver.
That took it to the Virginia 19, and four plays later, Boone rolled
right under pressure and hit Jamison Crowder between defenders for
the TD with 0:46 remaining in the half.

In the second half, the Blue Devils made it 22-10 on Ross
Martin’s 25-yard field goal.

After another three-and-out by Virginia, Boone hit Crowder for
42 yards to the Cavaliers’ 11, Jela Duncan ran for 5 yards and
Connette took it the final 6, making it 22-17 and quieting the
crowd of 38,071.

The Cavaliers seemed to get a spark when Darius Jenning returned
the ensuing kickoff to the 25 and a Duke player drew a personal
foul for hitting him out of bounds, but Watford’s first pass was
incomplete, and the snap on the next play skipped past him for a
15-yard loss. An offensive holding suddenly found the Cavaliers
facing third-and-35 from their 15, and when Virginia punted, Duke
drove for the go-ahead score.

Virginia took a 22-0 lead when Kevin Parks caught a 13-yard pass
from David Watford and then flipped over a defender into the end
zone with 5:49 left in the second quarter. The Cavaliers then set
up for a 2-point conversion, and Miles Gooch ran it in.

The Cavaliers brought out all stops on their opening drive.
Watford hit Keeon Johnson for 25 yards on the first play, and when
the drive stalled at the Duke 49, punter Alec Vozenilek ran for 10
yards and a first down. Parks added a 13-yard reception, a 12-yard
run and then ran it in from the 1 yard-line.

Late in the quarter, Watford hit Tim Smith for 51 yards to the
Blue Devils’ 5, and three plays later, Watford kept the ball and
dove for the goal line, where he and Duke safety Jeremy Cash
collided violently. Both later returned to the game.

Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr