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Pearman's career high revitalizes Cavs' running game

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Alvin Pearman hit every hole and bounced off
defenders for big gains, coming just short of running into the
Virginia record book.

The senior ran for a career-high 223 yards and a touchdown,
leading a powerful ground attack that lifted the Cavaliers (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) past Duke 37-16 on Saturday.

Pearman, who also had three catches for 44 yards, nearly matched
his season rushing total and finished 1 yard shy of tying John
Papit's single-game school record set against Washington & Lee in
1948.

"He was hot," Virginia coach Al Groh said. "He had a lot of
heart today. ... He put his pads down and knocked down quite a few
guys."

Wali Lundy added 82 yards and two scores for the Cavaliers (6-1,
3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rebounded from a lopsided loss
at Florida State last week by piling up 511 yards -- 348 on the
ground.

Pearman was the workhorse with 38 carries, one short of a school
record.

Midway through the first quarter, he carried the ball 10
straight times for 69 yards on a drive that ended with Lundy's
1-yard touchdown. Early in the third quarter, he carried the ball
seven straight times for 42 yards.

That took the pressure off quarterback Marques Hagans, who
suffered a hip injury in the 36-3 loss to the Seminoles. Hagans
didn't practice for much of the week, and Groh said the team had to
change its focus after seeing that Hagans wasn't himself just a few
plays into the game.

Pearman was up to that challenge.

"We're a team. We've got each other back," he said. "Whatever
anybody's lacking, somebody else is going to pick up the slack."

Pearman came in with 256 yards rushing this season. His previous
single-game high was 138 against Troy State last October. But at
one point late in the third quarter Saturday, Pearman had more
total yards (203) than Duke (188).

By the end of the game, his offensive linemen were hollering
from the sideline for the defense to get one more stop so that
Pearman would have a chance to break the record.

"I really think the line wanted that record more than I did,"
Pearman said.

This was hardly an opportune time for the Blue Devils (1-6, 0-4)
to end a four-game losing streak to Virginia. The Cavaliers beat
its first five opponents by a combined score of 212-58, but rushed
for just 20 yards in last week's humbling loss to the Seminoles.

Pearman and Lundy had little trouble erasing that performance.
Virginia's offensive line opened spacious running lanes, and the
running backs patiently picked their way through them and over Duke
tacklers.

"We had the loss in the back of our minds all week," center
Zac Yarbrough said. "We wanted to come back and run the ball and
be as physical as we can."

Yet Virginia had trouble putting away the pesky Blue Devils. The
offense that looked so explosive in the early weeks of the season
struggled much of the way until putting together consecutive
fourth-quarter touchdown drives to seal it.

The Cavaliers had to settle for field goals on three first-half
drives inside the 20, and Hagans -- the ACC's leader in passing
efficiency and total offense -- threw for just 63 yards in the first
45 minutes.

Still, Pearman -- as he had all day -- kept the Cavaliers a step
ahead.

After Duke closed to 23-16 early in the fourth quarter, Pearman
led a Virginia scoring drive that prevented the Blue Devils from
building momentum. He carried for 8 yards on the first play, then
closed with three straight carries, the last a 3-yard touchdown for
a 30-16 lead with 11:49 left.

He broke the 200-yard mark midway through the fourth quarter
with a run that summed up his afternoon. He took the handoff from
Hagans, bounced left to avoid a tackler then sprinted by three Duke
defenders to the sideline for an 8-yard gain.

"I didn't think they'd run him that much, but he's a big strong
back," Duke linebacker Brendan Dewan said. "They have a really
athletic O-line, and we knew coming into the game it was probably
the best in the nation."

Mike Schneider threw two touchdown passes to lead the Blue
Devils, and Cedric Dargan ran for 108 yards.