DURHAM — For the fourth straight year, Duke, coach David Cutcliffe and quarterback Daniel Jones had no answers for Virginia.
The visiting Cavaliers dominated the opening quarter and cruised to a 28-14 win over the Blue Devils.
Virginia took any drama out of the game early and efficiently. The Cavs returned the opening kickoff 37 yards, then crossed midfield on their third offensive play.
Virginia would run its next 21 plays — and 27 of the next 28 — in Duke territory, taking them midway through the second quarter with a 14-0 lead.
The Cavs held the ball for 11 minutes of the first quarter and gained 123 yards to Duke’s 13 in the opening 15 minutes.
A return game that gained 146 yards on the day, and a defense that forced two turnovers, helped keep the field flipped on the Blue Devils for much of the day.
“We really shot ourselves in the foot quite often,” said offensive lineman Zach Harmon. “It’s frustrating. You work so hard all week, and everyone would tell you we thought we had a great week of preparation. It didn’t really show today. … Props to Virginia. They got off to a hot start, and they came ready to play.”
Junior quarterback Daniel Jones continued his career-long struggles against UVA. Two of his passes were picked off, including one in the end zone. In three games against the Cavs, Jones has now been intercepted nine times, or once every 15 passes. Against all other opponents, Jones throws an interception every 59 passes.
Despite being shut down from the outset, Duke was able to stay within striking distance, thanks to a fourth-down failure by the Cavs’ offense and two missed UVA field goals.
In fact, the Blue Devils had a first down with less than eight minutes to go in the game, trailing by six. A long touchdown drive would have given Duke an improbable — arguably undeserved — win.
Instead, Jones was sacked twice and lost two yards on a scramble on three consecutive plays, forcing a punt. Virginia returned it 28 yards and scored four plays later to put the game out of reach.
The Blue Devils dropped to 5-2, 1-2 in the ACC with back-to-back home losses.
“I’ll be looking at the tape in all three phases and be thinking of the things we have to get better at quickly,” Cutcliffe said. “We’re not going to outsource the adversity. We all accept ownership of the adversity, and we’re all required to respond to it.”