- - Saturday, November 12, 2011

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Find a list of nasty, physical ACC rivalries, and it’s not likely to contain Virginia-Duke. Perhaps it’s time for a revision.

A controversial call early set the tone for a chippy day that ended with Duke coach David Cutcliffe getting in Virginia coach Mike London’s face after a 31-21 Cavaliers’ victory Saturday.

Cutcliffe’s assistants pulled him off before it could escalate to Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz levels, but the moment was a fitting end to a day of trash talk both ways.

“There was maybe too much talking from both sides,” London said. “It was emotional — a lot of things at stake, a lot of things on the line.”

It ended with Virginia’s seniors claiming their first victory against Duke in four tries as the Cavaliers improved to 7-3 and guaranteed a winning season.

Virginia head coach Mike London argues with referees about a call during the first half against Duke on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)
Virginia head coach Mike London argues with referees about a call during ... more >

Games against North Carolina and Maryland are always intense, but U.Va. center Anthony Mihota agreed this one may have taken the cake for nastiness.

“It did, because of the fact that we hadn’t beat them in three years,” he said. “We knew that we should beat them, and going into it we really wanted to establish our dominance.”

Cutcliffe wouldn’t elaborate on his gripes after the game, but as he complained about the jawing during the postgame handshake, London yelled back that it “went both ways.”

The Wahoos perceived that two key pass interference calls went against them, first when Corey Mosley stopped a fourth-down pass to the end zone. Later, Chase Minnifield had what would have been his second interception taken away when it was ruled that he pushed off of the Duke receiver.

“You agree to disagree on things like that,” London said of the call against Mosley. “I thought it was very … let’s put it this way: I disagreed with it.”

The game’s non-controversial moments were filled with key mistakes by the Blue Devils.

Receiver Donovan Varner dropped open passes three different times, and Duke stubbornly stuck with the run even after it quit working, staying on the ground at a nearly 2:1 ratio in the third quarter.

Virginia found a way to maintain balance, watching Duke put nine defenders towards stopping the run but continuing to have success on the ground. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said that if it weren’t for incompletions, things could have been even better.

“We knew they were going to put nine in the box, but we tried to run it anyway at times,” Lazor said. “I think the most glaring thing is that we missed some real close ones down the field that could have busted it open.”

On defense, Cam Johnson had his way with the Duke offensive line. Teammate Matt Conrath chipped in with a blocked field goal.

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