DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Virginia coach Mike London found little redeeming about the Cavaliers’ final 30 minutes in Saturday’s 42-17 loss to Duke.
“Nothing happened in the third quarter,” London said. “They scored too many points, we didn’t get any points. It was frustrating on both sides — I’m talking about offense and defensively. We’ve got to carry the momentum of halftime and our lead, and they moved the ball on us and ended up scoring points and we didn’t answer.
“We didn’t respond.”
Virginia (2-4, 0-2) went to halftime with a three-point lead on the strength of a first half in which it gained 321 total yards and averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
After halftime, the Cavaliers didn’t score a point, gained only two yards on the ground and only had five first downs.
Duke, meanwhile, scored four touchdowns.
“I thought the effort was good, but you have to have 11 guys with great effort,” London said. “The long passes that were thrown, our defenders are right there, but they made great catches. On the other side, the balls were just out of outstretched hands. So, the effort, I thought, was good, but it just didn’t result in any points or any dynamic plays like we had last week.”
With his seven catches for 93 yards on the afternoon, Vernon now has 239 receptions in his career. Vernon surpassed Clemson’s Aaron Kelly as the ACC’s all-time leader in career receptions when he made a catch for minus-2 yards in the first quarter. The senior also hauled in a 37-yard touchdown on the Blue Devils’ second drive, and his 45-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter put Duke up 18 points.
“This is a perfect day,” Vernon said. “You can’t ask for much more.”
Duke starting quarterback Sean Renfree missed the game with an injured right elbow, and Boone threw for 212 yards without an interception in relief.
The victory gave Duke (5-1, 2-0) its best start to the season since the 1994 team won its first seven games.
The key stretch of the game came early in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers had a 17-14 halftime lead on the strength of a first half where they averaged 7.1 yards per rush and totaled 184 yards on the ground.
After going without any yards on its first drive of the second half, Virginia had to punt from its own 5-yard line. Vernon returned the punt all the way to the Cavaliers’ 22, and a holding penalty that was added on to the punt return gave Duke the ball at Virginia’s 12.
Boone then lofted a swing pass to a wide-open Juwan Thompson for a touchdown on the Blue Devils’ first play of the drive, giving Duke a 21-17 advantage.
The Blue Devils defense then stopped Kevin Parks on a fourth-and-1 from Virginia’s 47-yard line on the Cavaliers’ ensuing possession.
Duke took advantage of its optimal field position, gaining the 45 yards in four plays. Jela Duncan finished the drive with a powerful 11-yard touchdown run to go up by 11 points.