The Virginia Cavaliers (5-2, 3-2) dominated the Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) from start to finish for a statement 48-0 win in Scott Stadium on Saturday. This was UVA’s third straight ACC win and improved Coach Bronco Mendenhall’s record over the Blue Devils to 6-0. This was UVA’s second shutout of the season (with their first coming against William and Mary), which the Cavaliers have not done since 2008. The Cavaliers also have not shut out an ACC opponent since 2008, when the Hoos shut out Maryland 31-0 in Scott Stadium.
This was a dominant and completely one-sided performance for the Cavaliers from start to finish. The Hoos truly played like they had something to prove on Saturday. The offense was able to get things started once again with an opening drive 31-yard field goal from Sophomore K Brendan Farrell, which is now back-to-back games that the Hoos have been able to get points on their opening drive of the game. After the field goal from Farrell, Duke proceeded to march down the field on a 13-play drive. However, the drive resulted in a 25-yard field goal banging off of the left upright and missing for the Blue Devils. This was a big momentum change in the game, as Duke would have tied the game and started the game with some confidence. Instead, the Hoos were able to use the miss to their advantage, as UVA immediately embarked on a 10-play 80-yard touchdown drive which resulted in Junior QB Brennan Armstrong finding Sophomore WR Dontayvion Wicks for a 20-yard score and extending the UVA lead to 10-0.
After allowing Duke to drive down the field on their opening drive, UVA’s defense really settled in and delivered its best performance of the season. The Cavaliers forced a punt on the following Duke drive and did not allow Duke’s offense to be on the UVA side of the field for the rest of the half. Following Duke’s punt, UVA embarked on another touchdown drive, resulting in Senior FBP Keytaon Thompson scoring on a 1-yard run to grow the lead to 17-0. After forcing another punt by the Blue Devils, UVA’s offense went to work once again with Armstrong using his legs this time for a 7-yard score to make the game 24-0 Hoos. Following the score from Armstrong, UVA’s defense forced their first turnover of the game with Senior S De’Vante Cross picking off Duke QB Gunnar Holmberg. This was a huge confidence boost for the Hoos, as UVA was one of the worst teams in college football in forcing turnovers coming into the game. After a 34-yard field goal from Farrell to make the game 27-0 UVA, the Cavalier defense came up big once again with Senior S Joey Blount picking off Holmberg and giving the Cavaliers their second forced turnover of the game. UVA was able to use the good field position created by Blount to once again find the end zone with Armstrong finding TE Jelani Woods for a 7-yard score to extend UVA’s lead to 34-0 at halftime. With the 34-0 lead at halftime, UVA’s defense pitched its first shutout in any half since the William and Mary game. UVA also scored its most points in a first half in two years, when the Cavaliers scored 35 in the first half against William and Mary in 2019.
UVA’s stifling defense picked up right where they left off in the second half, forcing punts on Duke’s first two drives. They came up big later in the quarter, forcing a turnover on downs. Following the turnover on downs, Senior RB Devin Darrington came up with a big 34-yard run before running in his first touchdown of the season on a 7-yard run to extend the UVA lead to 41-0. After the touchdown from Darrington, UVA forced yet another turnover with Sophomore LB Josh Ahern forcing a fumble from the Blue Devils. The Hoos were able to once again use the turnover to their advantage the following series with Senior RB Ronnie Walker JR finding the end zone on a 2-yard score for his second rushing touchdown of the season to make the lead 48-0. The rest of the game featured both team’s backups with QBs Jay Woolfolk and Ira Armstead both seeing action for the Hoos.
Overall, the game ball has to go to UVA’s defense for pitching a shutout and delivering its best performance of the season. UVA’s defense forced 4 turnovers in the game, which is the most turnovers that they have forced this season. They limited Duke to just 4.0 yards per play, which is Duke’s lowest output of the season. UVA also held Duke to just 215 yards passing and forced two interceptions. This is UVA’s first game of the season in which they have recorded at least two interceptions. Junior LB Nick Jackson also had a big game for the UVA defense, recording a sack and 11 tackles for the Hoos.
The offense was once again able to deliver another incredible performance with Armstrong once again leading the way with 365 passing yards and two passing touchdowns on 25/45 passing. He was also able to rush for another touchdown, his third rushing touchdown of the season. WR Dontayvion Wicks returned from injury after leaving the Louisville game last week with yet another big game. He caught 7 of 9 targets for 125 yards and a score. TE Jelani Woods also had a big afternoon for the Hoos, catching 5 passes for 58 yards and a score. UVA was also able to run the ball effectively with RB Devin Darrington leading the way with 60 yards on five carries and a touchdown. Backup Freshman QB Jay Woolfolk came into the game late and recorded 38 rushing yards on five carries. The Cavaliers were able to put up a total of 521 yards of offense with 29 first downs and an average of 6.6 yards per play.
UVA will hope to continue its winning streak next Saturday, October 23, when the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-3, 2-2) travel to Scott Stadium off of a bye. The Hoos will look to win their second consecutive game against the Yellow Jackets. They will also look to win their fourth consecutive ACC game for the first time since 2011.