CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — After a week when Virginia honored the memory of three players slain a year ago, and in which he made a quick trip to Louisville to see running back Perris Jones in the hospital after spinal surgery, coach Tony Elliott said his team did it right.
The ceremonies were Monday and Monday night, and “we’re right back to work on Tuesday morning,” Elliott said. “And I can tell you and I’ve been around a lot of practice fields and I hadn’t felt what I felt on Tuesday with these guys, considering what they went through the day before, and then they brought it back Wednesday. And so I think that they understood that this week and every week going forward, you’re playing for something bigger than themselves.”
Anthony Colandrea threw three touchdown passes and Virginia burned more than 5 minutes off the clock with a long, late drive and beat Duke 30-27 on Saturday.
Colandrea hit Malik Washington from 34 and seven yards and Malachi Fields from 29 for the Cavaliers (3-8, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their sixth straight against the Blue Devils at Scott Stadium.
Grayson Loftis, starting again in place of the injured Riley Leonard, threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jalon Calhoun and Jaquez Moore scored on a 58-yard run to pull the Blue Devils (6-5, 3-4) within 27-20 with 9:03 to play.
But Virginia's true freshman quarterback, whose redshirt chance was ruined when starter Tony Muskett was injured, and the Cavaliers burned 5:20 off the clock with a 14-play, 62-yard drive that ended with Will Bettridge's third field goal of the game, from 30 yards, to make it 30-20 with 3:43 to play.
The Blue Devils, trying to enhance their bowl options, got a 2-yard scoring pass from Loftis to Mehki Wall with 1:13 left, but Virginia recovered the ensuing onside kick and sent Duke to its fourth loss in five games.
“We just didn't play good football,” second-year Blue Devils coach Mike Elko said. “... We played a really, really bad third quarter of football, both sides of the ball. Got stopped on third-and-1 twice on offense. We didn't do any of the critical things that you need to do to win a conference game on the road.”
The home victory against an ACC opponent was a first for Elliott, also in his second year, and the program's first since it beat Georgia Tech 48-40 on Oct. 23, 2021.
Washington had his school-record sixth 100-yard receiving game in a row and ninth overall. His eight catches for 112 yards also made him the program's single-season leader in yardage with 1,311, breaking the record set two years ago by Dontayvion Wicks, and receptions with 96, three more than Olamide Zaccheaus in 2018.
“We talked about it all week is attacking, sustaining and then finishing, and today we got a chance to finish,” the transfer from Northwestern said.
Duke: The Blue Devils had exceptional coverage on Colandrea's second and third TD throws, but he put the ball exactly where it needed to be and first Fields and then Washington made exceptional plays around the defender to catch them.
Virginia: The Blue Devils pulled even at 10 at halftime because of a tactical blunder by the Virginia coaches. With Duke facing 4th-and-1 from the Virginia 38 and 1:16 left, the Cavaliers called timeout. The Blue Devils went for it, got a pair of 12-yard completions from Loftis and kicked a 29-year field goal to end the half.
The Blue Devils close the regular season at home against Pittsburgh.
The Cavaliers close the regular season at home against Virginia Tech, which has won 17 of the last 18 meetings. Last year's game was cancelled.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football