Error-prone Cavaliers fall to Duke, 38-17


DURHAM, N.C. — Virginia came to Wallace Wade Stadium looking to defeat ACC rival Duke for the eighth straight time. Instead, the error-prone Cavaliers suffered a one-sided loss.

The Blue Devils bolted to a 21-0 lead en route to a 38-17 victory Saturday night.

In the first half, UVA (2-3 overall, 0-2 ACC) had a punt blocked, lost a fumble on a kickoff return, and was penalized three times for 42 yards, and Duke (4-1, 1-0) fully capitalized on those mistakes.

Virginia scored on its final possession of the first half to cut Duke’s lead to 21-7 and had the ball first in the third quarter. The Wahoos went three-and-out, however, and the Devils needed only six plays to extend their lead to 28-7.

The Cavaliers forced a Duke punt on the game’s first series. After that, little went right for UVA, which finished with only 295 yards.

The game matched two first-year head coaches—Duke’s Mike Elko and UVA’s Tony Elliott. Elko’s team played a much cleaner game than Elliott’s. The Devils didn’t turn the ball over, and their quarterback, Riley Leonard, hurt Virginia with his arm and his feet.

Leonard came in leading the ACC in completion percentage (71.3), and he picked apart the Hoos with short passes. He completed 18 of 24 attempts for 129 yards and one touchdown, and he rushed nine times for 59 yards and two TDs.

For Virginia, fifth-year senior Brennan Armstrong was 19-for-37 passing for 202 yards and had a hand in both of his team’s touchdowns. Armstrong connected with senior tailback Perris Jones on an 11-yard TD pass in the second quarter, and he ran 5 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter.

True freshman Will Bettridge provided the rest of UVA’s points. He was 2 for 2 on extra points and kicked a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter. That was his first field goal as a Cavalier.

Jones led UVA with 41 yards on eight carries, and senior wide receiver Keytaon Thompson caught six passes for 61 yards.

Sophomore safety Jonas Sanker had a team-high 11 tackles for the Cavaliers. Senior linebacker Nick Jackson finished with 10 stops, and all came in the second half. Jackson had to sit out the first half Saturday night after being ejected for targeting last weekend against Syracuse.

UP NEXT: Three of their past four games have been on the road, but the Cavaliers are back at Scott Stadium next weekend. In a game to air on ACC Network, UVA hosts Louisville (2-3, 0-3) at noon Saturday.

The series is tied 5-5, but Virginia has won two straight and three of the past four games. Last year in Louisville, the Hoos trailed by 17 points after three quarters and rallied for a 34-33 victory.

The Cardinals lost 34-33 on Saturday afternoon to Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Team Notes

  • Virginia snapped a seven-game win streak against Duke and suffered its first loss against the Blue Devils since 2014 in Durham (20-13).
  • The Cavaliers own a 40-34 advantage in the all-time series and drop to 17-23 all-time in Durham.
  • With a 2-3 record through the first three games, UVA is below the .500 mark for the first time since the 2020 season and only the second time since the beginning of the 2018 season.
  • Seven different Cavaliers caught a pass in the contest, matching a season-high (Richmond).
  • Virginia went 83 yards on 11 plays to score its first touchdown of the game, tied for the longest touchdown scoring drive (yards) of the season. The second touchdown of the season against Richmond went 14 plays for 83 yards.

Player Notes

  • Brennan Armstrong tied Shawn Moore (1987-90) for second all-time on UVA’s career passing touchdown list with his 55th on a 11-yard pass to Perris Jones in the final two minutes of the first half. Armstrong is one touchdown shy of matching Matt Schaub’s career mark of 56.
  • Armstrong scored UVA’s second touchdown on a five-yard rush in the fourth quarter. It was his 16th career rushing TD, the fifth most by a quarterback in UVA history.
  • Armstrong threw for 202 yards to record the 21st 200-yard passing game in his career. That makes him UVA’s all-time leader for that category.
  • Perris Jones notched his team-best, fourth touchdown of the season to put UVA on the board with 1:12 remaining in the second quarter. It was his second receiving touchdown, both his touchdown receptions this season have gone for 11 yards.
  • Keytaon Thompson led the Cavaliers for the fourth-straight game with six catches and accumulated 61 receiving yards. He’s caught a pass in 19-straight games and has five or more receptions in nine of his last 10 games.
  • Despite sitting out the first half due to a targeting penalty in UVA’s previous game against Syracuse, Nick Jackson registered 10 tackles and went over the 300-tackle mark for his career. He has 301 career tackles and Saturday marked the 17th double-digit tackle effort of his career (all in the last three years). Jackson’s 27-game start streak ended due to the suspension.
  • Jonas Sanker finished with a team-best and career-high, 11 tackles.
  • Tight end Grant Misch caught three passes for 19 yards and has a reception in all five games this season.
  • Jestus Johnson started at center for the Cavaliers, his first career start.
  • First career reception for Sackett Wood was a nine-yard reception on third down in the second quarter.
  • First year Will Bettridge was successful on his first career field goal attempt, drilling a 34-yard attempt in the third quarter.