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September 30, 2006

Cavaliers blank Duke 37-0

For the third time in four games this season, Duke's offense failed to score in a 37-0 loss to Virginia Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

The hapless offensive performance included five turnovers, just 100 total yards of offense, minus 21 yards of rushing offense, and absolutely zero trips inside Virginia's 20 yard line.

Virginia used and abused the ineffective Duke offense to help build a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter.

The first damage of the day came shortly after a 22 yard punt return by Mike Brown gave Virginia the ball on Duke's 27 yard line. The Cavaliers scored on a trick play when running back Emmanuel Byers took a handoff wide before backing up and throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Fontel Mines.

The poor start only magnified for the Blue Devils when coach Ted Roof elected to go for a first down on fourth and short on Duke's next possession from its own 29 yard line.

Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis mishandled the football on the attempted quarterback sneak and the play failed, giving Virginia excellent field position for the second straight possession.

While Duke's defense stiffened and held Virginia to just a field goal, there was nothing the defense could do on the next Blue Devil disaster. Alex Feinberg's punt from inside the Duke five yard line was blocked and Virginia's Jamaal Jackson pounced on it at the one yard line.

From there, an easy one yard touchdown run for Jason Snelling followed and the Cavaliers had effectively buried Duke after just nine minutes of play.

The rest of the game got no better for Duke's offense. Lewis was sacked a whopping eight times and the final nail in Duke's coffin was driven in when Lewis fumbled the football late in the second quarter after being hit by Clint Sintim. Virginia freshman defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald scooped up the ball rumbled 23 yards to make the halftime margin 24-0.

Duke's inescapable hole formed almost exclusively because of offensive mistakes that put the Blue Devil defense in impossible positions on the field.

Although Duke gave up over 100 yards rushing, the defense wasn't nearly as bad as the 37-0 score might indicate.

The Blue Devils sacked Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell five times and limited Virginia to just 253 yards of total offense.

Virginia's two second half touchdowns both resulted from excellent field position, including taking over possession late in the third quarter when Lewis was intercepted on a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage.

Looking for bright spots is a tough task, but there were a few. Marcus Jones caught four passes for 42 yards in his first extensive action at receiver since last year. He had an additional catch called back due to a holding penalty called on Zach Maurides.

Raphael Chestnut also made four catches in the game and devil back Ronnie Drummer played in the contest after being listed by Roof as 50/50 due to his injured ankle.

Drummer made one catch for 12 yards in his return to the field.

Safety Glenn Williams and rush end Patrick Bailey tied for the team lead in tackles with eight.

Duke's five sacks came from Williams (1.0), Bailey (1.0), Adrian Aye-Darko (1.5), Mike Tauiliili (0.5), and Casey Camero (1.0).


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