- Associated Press - Saturday, October 19, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia coach Mike London is forever talking about “plays that cause you to lose,” and the Cavaliers made a whole bunch as they blew a 22-0 lead and lost 35-22 to Duke on Saturday night.

There was an interception that Anthony Harris had in his hands and dropped three plays before Duke went ahead.

There was the failure to capitalize on good field position because the snap to quarterback David Watford on second down somehow wound up skittering along the Scott Stadium turf for a 15-yard loss.

There was the procedure penalty that negated a field goal, and the missed assignments and poor tackling that allowed Duke to gain almost 300 yards and outscore Virginia 28-0 after halftime, sending the Cavaliers (2-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) to their fourth consecutive loss.

“Once again, we beat ourselves, offensively and defensively,” linebacker Henry Coley said. “If we have the ball in our hands, we have to come down with it. If we’re in a position to score, we need to convert. We made that field goal but get called for a penalty and had to do it again and something went wrong.”

Kevin Parks scored all three touchdowns for Virginia, but his frustration is mounting, too. All three scores came in the first half, and the Cavaliers were limited to 83 yards in the second half.

“Thirty-five unanswered points is ridiculous. I am feeling a little frustrated right now,” he said. “They kept playing and we didn’t. They played four quarters and we played a half of football.”


“The spark has to come from somewhere, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams,” Coley said. “It was just on our shoulders at that specific time to give the offense a spark, and we didn’t execute.”

Apart from a critical touchdown with 46 seconds left in the first half that restored some confidence, Duke (5-2, 1-2) pretty much played a half of football, too, and blew away what Virginia had done.

Anthony Boone threw two touchdown passes and Brandon Connette ran for one touchdown and threw for another for the Blue Devils, who converted four fourth-down plays in as many tries in the second half.

Their defense, meantime, held the Cavaliers to five straight three-and-outs.

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, Harris let an interception bounce off his chest.

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

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 Jennings 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 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 Parks caught a 13-yard pass from 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 Parks scored three plays later.

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