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.
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