Virginia dominates mistake-prone Duke

With a chance to make a case for an ACC Coastal Division title contender, Duke looked like the division’s worst team instead on Saturday.

The Blue Devils offense not only sputtered but was plagued by turnovers that allowed Virginia to take control early and roll to a 48-14 ACC football win at Scott Stadium.

Duke (4-3, 2-2 ACC) committed five turnovers -- losing three fumbles and two interceptions -- in addition to losing the ball on downs in its own territory when it failed to gain a yard on fourth down.

As a result, Virginia (5-2, 3-1) grabbed a 17-0 halftime lead and piled on the Blue Devils in the third quarter with 24 more points.

Duke’s offense managed just 73 yards in the first half with three first downs.

After a scoreless first quarter, Virginia moved ahead on a 1-yard Bryce Perkins touchdown run. That capped a 78-yard drive where Perkins completed four passes in a row to move the Cavaliers inside the Duke 10.

On Duke’s next possession, quarterback Quentin Harris was flushed from the pocket on third down. Rolling right, he fired the ball downfield directly to Virginia’s Brenton Nelson, who intercepted it and returned the ball to the Duke 21.

The Blue Devils defense held Virginia without a first down but the Cavaliers added a Brian Delaney field goal to lead 10-0 with 8:01 left until halftime.

Duke gained nine yards on its first three plays after the ensuing kickoff. Facing fourth-and-1 from its own 34, Duke left the offense on the field. Harris lined up in the shotgun and ran up the middle only to be stopped for no gain.

Virginia took advantage of the short field as Perkins scored on a 1-yard run with 1:56 left until halftime for a 17-0 Cavaliers lead.

Duke running back Deon Jackson fumbled a handoff from Harris on Duke’s first play of the second half, leading to another Virginia field goal.

Wayne Taulapapa’s 3-yard touchdown run with 8:13 left in the third quarter gave Virginia a commanding 27-0 lead.

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First down

Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins proved the Cavaliers’ best player, particularly in the red zone. He rushed for three touchdowns. Perkins rushed for 62 yards while throwing for 141.


Virginia’s opponents had turned the ball over five times over the Cavaliers’ first six games. Duke matched that over the first three quarters on Saturday.


Just when Duke finally had something to feel good about on Saturday, the Cavaliers snuffed it out. After Scott Bracey caught a 36-yard touchdown pass for Duke’s first points of the game, Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a Virginia touchdown.


Duke failed to cross midfield during the first half. The Blue Devils didn’t move into Virginia territory until midway through the third quarter when Austin Parker ran 12 yards on a fake punt to the Cavaliers’ 46. Earlier on the same drive, Parker scrambled five yards for a first down after a low snap on a punt attempt.

Key numbers

0: Successful third-down conversions for Duke on its first eight attempts Saturday.

3: The same number of first downs and turnovers Duke produced over its first nine times possessing the ball against Virginia on Saturday.

5: Consecutive Duke losses to Virginia in their annual series.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.