CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Anthony Boone threw two touchdown passes and Brandon Connette ran for one touchdown and threw for another Saturday as Duke rebounded from a 22-0 deficit and stunned reeling Virginia 35-22 Saturday.
The Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) converted four fourth-down plays in the second half to come all the way back, and their defense held the Cavaliers to five straight three-and-outs.
The loss was the fourth in a row for Virginia (2-5, 0-3), which gained just 7 yards in the third quarter after a fast start that made it seem like it would finally snap its losing streak. Kevin Park ran for two TDs and caught a scoring pass for Virginia, but it all came in the first half.
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, Anthony Harris dropped an interception for Virginia.
Deaver later caught a 24-yard scoring pass from Boone to seal it.
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 Jenning 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 suddenly 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 Kevin Parks caught a 13-yard pass from David 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 three plays later, Watford kept the ball and dove for the goal line, where he and Duke safety Jeremy Cash collided violently. Both later returned to the game.
From UVa athletics:
Virginia Head Coach Mike London Quotes
On the second half:
"Obviously we were very disappointed in the way we played in the second half. In the first half we had 22 points and they only had seven. Our guys played well. They were one for seven on third downs. In the second half, we couldn't stop them. We couldn't move the ball and make drives. It was very disappointing."
On handling players when they were down in the second half:
"That is human nature. You also have to be able to push through and be encouraging as well. You have to be able to be able to go up to a young man and encourage him. You have to bring them back. You have to hang on to them. It's a challenge but it's why you coach and why you teach."
On miscommunications today:
"There were some communication issues with substitutions and clock management. It wasn't handled properly and has to be handled better. You saw the end result. Those are the things in the second half that led to things that get exaggerated because we are frustrated and they are frustrated. It affects points and affects field position. We have to eliminate those things. There was poor handling during the game and it is disappointing and discouraging."
On Watford's accuracy issues:
"We have to make sure and he has to make sure that when guys are open, you have to hit them, whether it's the touch that is required or whether it's putting the ball where it needs to be. We will have a chance to go back and look at the film and Steve Fairchild will have a chance to look at it and correct those errors. You saw it today. He has to play better and he understands that. He played well enough in the first half, but he didn't in the second half."
On Duke's fourth down touchdown:
"We had either a breakdown in coverage or communication. Those are the types of plays that can't happen. Obviously, it was a fourth down touchdown that changes the outcome of the game. In the first half, we handled that, but in the second half, it was not played too well. We have coach and teach them. We have to execute. We need to handle adversity better."
On resilience of team:
"It's challenging. It's tough. These are young men and they have to deal with this. We have to block out distractions and we have to move on and move forward. These guys are students and athletes and they want to win. We are young enough not to know that when adversity appears, we have to respond and bounce back from those things. We didn't do a good job of that, particularly in the second half. We have to coach them better. I have to do a better job. All those things are encapsulated when you are on a team that is learning how to win and overcome adversity. We are going to keep doing that."
Virginia Player Quotes
Senior Offensive Guard Luke Bowanko
On the game:
"They got to us. When you don't convert third downs, you don't make plays and you leave snaps on the ground, it is tough to win football games."
On the offensive disparity between first and second half:
"In the first half, guys were confident, guys were having fun and guys were flying around making plays. Whatever happened, happened. It got ugly fast. We're not proud of the product we put out there in the second half, but obviously Duke played a heck of a second half and all credit to them."
On Duke's stalling of UVa's offense:
"It was just execution errors on our part. When guys needed to make a play, they didn't make the play. There were a couple penalties and snaps on the ground, bad plays that racked up on each other and our momentum just died. When you're not getting first downs, it is hard to keep executing."
Junior Outside Linebacker Daquan Romero
On adjusting to the loss:
"We just forget it and move on. Tomorrow is a new day and next week we have a new team. Starting tomorrow, we have a new team, so we just have to go out there and get ready for Georgia Tech."
On the challenge of Georgia Tech:
"I think everybody has to believe in each other, especially with the Georgia Tech offense. Everybody has to believe that all 11 men are going to do their assignment. I feel like that's the most important thing for us, responsibility and accountability."
On defending Georgia Tech and the triple option:
"It's different because if you make a mistake, it's out the gate. That's a big difference. If you hesitate and make the smallest mistake against Georgia Tech, they can run the plug play with their fullback and gain an easy 10 or 20 yards. With another team, you can make a mistake and be out of place, but with them, it could cost you a touchdown. We have to be ready for that."
Junior Middle Linebacker Henry Coley
On how losses affect team chemistry:
"Once again, we beat ourselves, offensively and defensively. 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. We just have to take care of ourselves and execute all the time, first half and second half, in order to come out with a win."
On the challenge of playing defense after three-and-outs:
"The spark has to come from somewhere, whether its offense, defense or special teams. It was just on our shoulders at that specific time to give the offense a spark, and we didn't execute. We want to hold them to a field goal or get them down to short yard situations, then move on to the next drive."
On the defensive breakdown in the second half:
"We just started beating ourselves. They opened up the playbook a little, but we weren't taking care of the X's and O's. Sometimes you will see people start to get down on themselves, but you have to remind yourself in order to be a leader, you have to keep yourself up. We need guys to believe all the way to the end."
Senior Running Back Kevin Parks
On the game overall
"Thirty-five unanswered points is ridiculous. I am feeling a little frustrated right now. They kept playing and we didn't. They played four quarters and we played a half of football."
On a successful first half vs. poor second half
"It doesn't mean too much when you don't play four quarters- it all goes down the drain. The outcome was they scored 35 unanswered points and we scored none. It's frustrating right now."
On Duke's defense in the second half
"I felt like they knew we were going to run the football, so they put people on the line and blitzed a lot. I felt like they were trying to stop the run and make us throw. We didn't make enough plays. That's what I feel happened."
Senior Defensive End Jake Snyder
On learning to win as a team
"When you're not winning, it is very hard. The best way to learn is by doing it. We had chances in front of us the last few weeks and just haven't been able to capitalize on the opportunities. That's what it comes down to- little things that lose you games, and that's what we have to cut out. Those things are contagious. When things are going well, they go really well, but when things go bad, they go really bad. You saw that tonight."
On Duke gaining momentum going into halftime
"They definitely picked up some momentum and confidence, but it comes down to what we did. We weren't able to make the plays when we needed to get off the field. Whether it is making a tackle or holding an assignment, we didn't do what was needed. "
Sophomore Quarterback David Watford
On the game
"I feel like we didn't execute. Plain and simple- we didn't execute."
On the team going forward
"I feel like we have all the opportunities, but we need to capitalize on them. I feel like guys get down and hang their head thinking about mistakes, and that's what goes through everyone's minds, but the good ones that are able to roll with the punches no matter what happens. I feel like we have the guys on this team to do that and stick together. This will just bring us together as a team and we just need to keep fighting and get better."
On Duke's defense in the second half
"They had some stuff that we saw on film, so it was nothing that I hadn't seen before, but I just didn't execute like I wanted to."
Duke Head Coach David Cutcliffe Quotes
"At half time, our coaches did a great job of keeping a cool head and making good judgments. I went to our team and said that the best part of this is that we have practiced so well. If we weren't prepared, we would have had no chance to come back. We are an extremely well prepared football team and we had a great week of practice. The same way we got behind 22-7, we can take this game. I went through a list of what we had to do for kicking, offense and defense. Our players and staff executed the second half so well that all I had to do was get out of the way, and that is the honest truth. I couldn't be more proud of what we were able to do coming back fr0m 22-0 and, more importantly, winning the second half 28-0."
On Anthony Boone:
"For Anthony [Boone] it was hard, he just couldn't find his rhythm and I just kept trying to relax him and he came out of the chute in the third quarter. I said, ‘We will establish a running game, get back to doing what we do, just play football, nothing spectacular.' And he settled himself and played well. And the people around him played exceptionally well. A lot of people contributed to this win."
On the fourth down conversions:
"I liked the response of the staff and the players, so I made my mind up that we would do everything we could to win this game. I felt like anything on the plus side, fourth-and-nine and less, we were going for it. Anything within fourth-and-two, we were going for it. I just made my mind up to do it, and thankfully it paid off. You could be saying, ‘why did you do that.' It doesn't always work out. Fortunately, the players and the coaches executed."
On the ACC win:
"We have come a long way and everybody realizes that. It is extremely difficult to go down 22 to nothing on the road in a conference game and then come back and win by 13 points. I think our guys believed that we belonged. Quite frankly, we were an irrelevant football program in this league, and I think they realized that they earned relevance. We earned relevance and we will see what we can build it to from here."
On the defense in the second half:
"Defense today is so hard to play anyway and people adjust and do this or that. I think our coaches do a great job of adjusting and settling them down at half time. I think our guys are learning that they are going to make plays and you just need to make more. You need to understand, defensively and offensively, that it is a 60-minute game and you just keep playing. If your playing is good and your preparation is good, you're going to get a feel for an offense once you've seen them for a little while."
On rallying themselves:
"In our last 20 games, we have a winning record now over time. It may not sound like much to some people, but that is when you start believing you should win. Not ‘can'. There is a big difference. When you start believing you should win, that's when you start winning. This ‘can' stuff is bull. I have never liked that. Of course you ‘can' win, but I hope we are believing that we ‘should' win."
On the rest of the schedule:
"You need to see how we respond on Sunday. Like last week, we play really well and win, and we came back and were hungrier on Sunday. Today we played a terrific second half. Are we going to come back tomorrow hungrier and ready to prepare? It is not going to make a difference down the road if you don't prepare better, if you don't energize yourself. I am a big believer in showing up at the stadium well prepared. It is not an accident, it is work and it's planning and they have to participate. Hopefully this grows that. That is what you want to see from wins like this."
Duke Player Quotes
Junior Quarterback Anthony Boone
On the second half success offensively:
"We just went out there and executed the plays that we had drawn up. We didn't change anything, we didn't go out there and try to do too much, we just executed the game plan we had from the start of the game."
On Virginia's second half play:
"They came out, had the same plan. They just want to go out there and execute their plan too, it's just our plan was a little bit better, we were able to execute a little harder, and we got the win."
On the atmosphere of the game:
"It got loud at points, like third downs. It's fun to play on the road, and it takes more focus than it does to play at home. This is a great environment and we enjoyed it."
On Duke's fourth down success:
"It's like playing a triple option team. It keeps the momentum on our side, and keeps the ball rolling for us. The [Virginia] offense is up, ready for a change of possession, and then they have to sit right back down. It's a big thing for a team to convert fourth downs."
Senior Cornerback Ross Cockrell
On Duke's mindset:
"We came in with a lot of energy. We didn't play our best football. We had a lot of penalties, we were giving up big plays on defense, and that stuff hurts. He [Coach David Cutcliffe] came in and settled us down. He gave a good second half speech, and we went from there."
On finishing the game:
"One of our statements, mantras, or whatever you want to call it is to finish. We've been doing that since the spring, going into the summer in our workouts. We carried that over into the season and it showed today."
On the decision to go for it early in the second half:
"It shows that he has confidence in us. That's what you want. You want a coach that is going to be confident, that is going to take risks, and Coach Cutcliffe has proved that time and time again. Today the defense stepped up, did what we had to do in the second half. We made plays today."
Junior Tight End Braxton Deaver:
On the turnaround of the offense:
"Once Anthony (Boone) gets into his rhythm, he's really hard to stop. That was obviously present when we started throwing the ball well. He just gets into a groove and he is hard to beat."
On the fourth down he broke for a 47-yard touchdown:
"When the call came in, I said ‘hey don't get smashed by somebody,' because they brought almost the house on the play. I was able to miss somebody and get out. I caught the ball and there was nobody out in front of me. I'm not the most vertically fast guy in the world, but I had a whole cavalry out in front of me blocking and they did an unbelievable job so I could get into the end zone."
Virginia Game Notes
• Virginia has now lost four games in a row to fall to 2-5, 0-3 ACC.
• Virginia is 33-32 all-time vs. Duke.
• Virginia First Time Starters: Defense: Donte Wilkins (DT)**, Mike Moore (DE) – ** - denotes true freshman
• UVa scored on its opening drive (11 plays, 78 yards, 3:29) for the first time this season.
• UVa's two-point conversion on Kevin Parks' third touchdown was its first since 2011 vs. Miami.
• Quarterback David Watford was 20-of-38 for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
• Watford tied his career high with 263 passing yards, the fourth 200-yard passing game of his career.
• Kevin Parks became the 18th Cavalier to rush for 2,000 career yards by finishing the game with 50 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns (one receiving).
• Parks has 2,003 career rushing yards, 30 yards shy of tying Perry Jones (2009-12) for 17th place on the UVa all-time list.
• Parks ranks eighth on UVa's career rushing touchdowns list with 22.
• Parks' three overall touchdowns tied a career high (vs. William & Mary, 2011).
• Parks led the team with six catches for 88 yards receiving.
• Anthony Harris' third-quarter interception was his third of the year.
• Taquan Mizzell had a career-long 36-yard rush in the second quarter. He finished the game with a team-best 52 yards rushing on six carries.
• Tim Smith had a season-long 51-yard reception in the first quarter.
• Dominique Terrell had a streak of 20-straight games with a reception snapped. His streak began on Nov. 26, 2011 vs. Virginia Tech.
• Jake McGee has a 10-game reception streak.
• Henry Coley had a career-high 14 tackles with a sack and two tackles-for-loss.
• Jake Snyder had a career-high eight tackles.
Duke Postgame Notes
CAPTAINS & COIN TOSS: Duke's captains for the game were QB Anthony Boone, CB Ross Cockrell, DE Justin Foxx and OG Dave Harding … Duke won the opening coin toss and elected to defer
101st SEASON: Duke is in its 101st season of football and played its 991st game … Duke now holds an all-time record of 470-492-31
BIG PLAYS: Duke had six offensive plays of 20+ yards on the day … five of those plays came through the air, including touchdown strikes of 47 and 24 yards to Braxton Deaver … the Blue Devils have recorded at least three plays of 20+ yards in every game this season
DUKE BEATS VIRGINIA FOR FIFTH TIME IN SIX YEARS: Duke won its fifth game in the last six meetings with Virginia … for the second straight year, Duke outscored Virginia, 28-0, in the second half … in 2012, the Cavaliers led 17-14 before Duke scored 14 points in each of the final two periods for a 42-17 victory … in this year's matchup, Duke scored 10 points in the third quarter and 18 in the fourth.
SECOND-HALF DEFENSE: Duke continued its trend of strong second-half defense, shutting out Virginia over the final two quarters … Duke has allowed an average of 7.4 points in the second half this season, compared to 16.9 in the first half … Duke has shut out three of its seven opponents in the second half this season … Duke held Virginia to 83 yards in the second half … Virginia advanced into Duke territory on just two of its six second-half drives and past Duke's 30-yard line once, doing so on a drive that ended on a missed field goal from the 27-yard line
CONSECUTIVE POINTS: Duke trailed 22-0 but scored 35 unanswered points … that is the second most consecutive points by Duke this season, trailing the 45-0 shutout Duke posted against N.C. Central in the season opener
FOURTH-QUARTER VICTORIES: Duke put together its eighth fourth-quarter victory under head coach David Cutcliffe … Duke trailed 22-7 in the second half, matching the seventh largest second-half deficit overcome in Duke history … Duke trailed Virginia 22-17 entering the fourth quarter and took the lead on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Connette to Braxton Deaver … it was Duke's second fourth-quarter victory this season, giving the Blue Devils two such wins in three consecutive seasons … Duke beat Memphis in the fourth quarter in week two this season, overcoming a 14-14 tie to win 28-14
RUNNING GAME: Duke rushed for 180 yards on 44 attempts (4.1 ypc) against Virginia, the fourth most in a game this season … for the ninth consecutive game, dating back to 2012, Duke rushed for at least 130 yards … the Blue Devils, who average 166.9 rushing yards per game this season, have eclipsed 150 yards rushing four times this season … Duke running backs accounted for 150 rushing yards, while quarterbacks accounted for 34
QB ANTHONY BOONE: Completed 21-of-39 passes (.539) for 245 yards, two touchdowns and one interception … added nine rushes for 25 yards … completed touchdown passes of six yards to Jamison Crowder and 24 yards to roommate Braxton Deaver ... became only the second quarterback in Duke history to win his first five starts, matching the previous 5-0 start by Worth Lutz during the 1951 and 1952 seasons … Boone defeated Virginia in 2012 in his first career start, and this season has started wins against N.C. Central, Memphis, Navy and Virginia … threw his fourth passing touchdown of the season, a 6-yard pass to Crowder in the second quarter
LB KELBY BROWN: Logged two tackles for loss, his seventh career game with multiple TFLs and second such game this season … his 16.5 career tackles for loss are the second most among active Duke players behind Kenny Anunike (20.5)
S JEREMY CASH: Caused his second fumble of the season … also logged eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup … increased his team-leading tackle total to 66, including 37 solo tackles
QB BRANDON CONNETTE: For the fourth time this season and sixth time in his career, threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown … converted three fourth downs, including a 47-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Braxton Deaver on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter
WR JAMISON CROWDER: Caught nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown … touchdown reception was third of the season and 12th of his career, the 12th most in school history … has caught six or more passes in all seven games this season … has a streak of nine consecutive games with six or more receptions, dating back to last fall … had catches of 24 and 42 yards for his team-leading 10th and 11th receptions of 20+ yards
TE BRAXTON DEAVER: Scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 47-yard reception from Brandon Connette on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter … also scored on a 24-yard touchdown reception from Anthony Boone in the fourth quarter to increase Duke's lead to two scores … finished with three receptions for a career-high 96 yards and two touchdowns … logged multiple catches for the seventh straight game