DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Jeffrey Fitzgerald returned a fumble 23
yards for a touchdown late in the first half -- one of several times
Virginia capitalized on mistakes by Duke -- to lead the Cavaliers
past the Blue Devils 37-0 on Saturday.
Jason Snelling ran for 92 yards and a touchdown for the
Cavaliers (2-3, 1-1 ACC), who earned their first Atlantic Coast
Conference win behind a dominating defense that had the Blue Devils
(0-4, 0-3) fighting for every small gain.
Duke finished with 100 yards on 61 plays, with much of that
woeful total coming in the fourth quarter. It marked the third
shutout loss for Duke this season, joining a humbling 13-0 loss to
Division I-AA Richmond to open the season and a 36-0 loss at
Virginia Tech two weeks ago.
Virginia didn't do much on offense, either. The Cavaliers
finished with 253 yards to continue their offensive inconsistency.
But it hardly mattered against a Duke team that flirted most of the
day with averaging less than 1 yard per play.
In addition to a blocked punt that set up Snelling's 1-yard TD
run midway through the first quarter, Duke committed five turnovers
and fumbled a snap on a fourth-and-1 from its own 29 in the first
quarter to set up a Virginia field goal.
Freshman quarterback Thad Lewis threw three interceptions, and
didn't get much help from his teammates. His second interception
came when tight end Nick Stefanow couldn't pull in a well-thrown
ball that hit him in the hands before it ricocheted to Virginia's
Late in the first half, Lewis fumbled on a blindside hit by
Clint Sintim, sending the ball bouncing forward to Fitzgerald for
the TD return and a 24-0 lead.
The Cavaliers forced a similar turnover deep in Duke's end late
in the third quarter, with Hamilton coming virtually untouched on
the blitz for a hit that sent the ball popping into the air.
Fitzgerald intercepted the ball at Duke's 11, setting up Jameel
Sewell's 12-yard TD pass to Tom Santi for the 30-0 lead early in
the final period.
That type of defensive performance offset another offensive
struggle for the Cavaliers, who came in with just 43 points in four
games while ranking last in the ACC in total offense (210 yards per
Virginia took a 7-0 lead when wideout Emmanuel Byers connected
with Fontel Mines for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the Cavaliers'
first possession. Mikell Simpson closed the scoring with a 2-yard
TD run in the final minute.
Sewell completed 14 of 20 passes for 105 yards, while Duke's
defense -- which played well despite being repeatedly thrown into
bad situations and worse field position -- finished with five sacks.