Hoos notch first ACC home win under Elliott, holding off Duke, 30-27

By Scott Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

For the first time in the Tony Elliott era, the Virginia football team defended its home turf against an ACC opponent, hanging on to defeat Duke, 30-27, in a thriller at Scott Stadium on Saturday.

The Cavaliers (3-8, 2-5 ACC) shook off a late rally to taste victory in a home conference game for the first time since a 48-40 win over Georgia Tech on Oct. 23, 2021.

Malik Washington, the ACC’s leading receiver, became the program’s single-season leader in two separate categories — receiving yards and catches.

The Northwestern transfer broke UVA’s previous yardage record (1,203 yards by Dontayvion Wicks in 2021) on his first catch of the day, a slant pass over the middle from Anthony Colandrea that resulted in a 34-yard touchdown — his eighth of the season — with 7:29 to play in the opening quarter, giving the Wahoos an early 7-0 edge.

Washington finished the day with a team-high 112 yards on 8 catches, and caught another TD pass later in the game. He now has 96 receptions for 1,311 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.

Colandrea had another big day himself, completing 21 of his 30 attempts for 278 yards and a career-high 3 touchdowns, while once again leading the team in rushing with 66 yards on 9 carries.

Duke (6-5, 3-4) was driving on the UVA side of the field on the ensuing possession before Jonas Sanker and Kam Robinson combined to knock the ball loose from Jordan Waters, and Caleb Hardy recovered it to the delight of the home fans.

Sanker thwarted the Blue Devils’ next drive as well, coming up with a big stop on third down just before the end of the first period. However, the Cavaliers couldn’t do anything with the ball and punted right back, giving Duke its best opening field position of the day, starting from its own 44-yard line.

The Devils quickly worked their way into UVA territory, and a facemask penalty on Michael Diatta gave them a first-and-goal from the 7. Duke freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis connected with Jalon Calhoun for six on the next snap, knotting the score at 7-7 with 11 minutes left in the half.

Virginia wasted little time grabbing the lead back, as a Colandrea 30-yard designed run put the Hoos into Duke territory, setting up a Will Bettridge 46-yard field goal (his longest kick of the year, just one yard shy of his career-long) to make it a 10-7 ballgame with 8:29 on the clock.

UVA looked to have another takeaway on Duke’s ensuing possession when Sanker poked the pigskin free again, as it was scooped up by Cavalier teammate Chico Bennett, but the pass intended for Jeremiah Hasley was ruled incomplete, and was reviewed and upheld. The Hoos registered another third-down hold, however, forcing Duke to punt for the third time of the half.

The Hoos were flagged for 8 penalties in the first half alone, nearly giving up a safety on an offensive holding call that occurred in the end zone. With 2:10 left in the half, an unnecessary roughness call on Aaron Faumui wiped out what would have been another big stop by Sanker, as he broke up a pass on third-and-12. Instead, the Devils kept possession and soon found themselves staring at a fourth-and-1 from the UVA 38 with 1:05 until halftime, and Waters picked up 2 yards to keep the chains moving.

Wahoo freshman defensive back Dre Walker came up with a huge play, breaking up a pass in the end zone on third down from the 11 a few snaps later, and Duke tied it up at 10-apiece on the final play of the half with a 29-yard field goal by Todd Pelino.

After hauling in 4 balls for a game-best 65 yards in the first half, Washington needed just two grabs in the second half to eclipse another single-season achievement. He caught a pass for a short loss to tie the receptions record (Olamide Zaccheaus’ 93 catches in 2018), but then set the new mark with a 27-yarder over the middle on the next play, on third-and-11, putting the Hoos inside the Duke 30-yard line.

That set up a 29-yard strike from Colandrea to Malachi Fields on the ensuing snap, putting the Cavaliers back in front, 17-10, with 11:03 left in the third quarter.

Hardy leaped up and came away with an interception near midfield with 9:41 on the clock, but another Cavalier penalty — this time a blindside block — brought the ball back to the UVA 33.

Colandrea still managed to engineer a 6-play, 67-yard scoring march, connecting on back-to-back passes to Fields (one for 25 yards, the next one for 17 more) before hitting Washington from 7 yards out a few plays later for his second score of the day, and UVA held a 24-10 advantage with 6:33 left in the third.

On Duke’s next possession, Virginia linebacker Josh Ahern knocked down a Loftis delivery on third-and-4 from the Cavaliers’ 16-yard line — the Devils’ fifth-straight failure on third down — and Pelino cut it to 24-13 with a 34-yard field goal with 4:23 on the clock.

When Duke got it back, Walker made yet another big play on third down, blowing up a screen pass to Calhoun, and Pelino then misfired wide left on a 44-yarder with 2:02 left in the third, his first miss since late September. On the day, the UVA defense limited the Devils to a 5-of-14 performance on third downs.

On the following possession, Virginia went for it on an important fourth-and-2 from the 50, and brought in Grady Brosterhous to tush-push his way across the line to gain on the last play of the quarter, giving the Hoos a ton of momentum heading into the fourth.

When play resumed, a nice 22-yard run by Mike Hollins left Virginia right outside the red zone, and then the senior from Baton Rouge caught an important pass on third-and-4 from the Duke 15 to give his team a first-and-goal from the 7. Colandrea found a streaking Fields along the back of the end zone three plays later, but the Keswick native couldn’t haul it in, but Bettridge came on and extended the lead to 27-13 with a 21-yard boot with 10:18 remaining.

Duke quickly cut its deficit in half on a 58-yard touchdown scamper by Jaquez Moore, who found a hole in the Wahoo defense and hustled down the sideline, making it a 27-20 affair with 9:03 to go.

Washington went over the century mark on the ensuing drive — his sixth-such game in a row and ninth of the season. Then on an all-important fourth-and-1 from the UVA 49-yard line, Brosterhous entered the game and once again drove his legs to midfield to advance the chains.

Suderian Harrison took a lick but bounced back up and pointed ahead on a first-down reception for 12 yards, and then Colandrea found the freshman wideout again two plays later for 23 more yards and a first down inside the red zone as the clock approached four minutes remaining.

During a Duke timeout, UVA offensive lineman McKale Boley gave fans a scare after going down on the field for an extended period, but was helped off to the sideline. Facing a critical third-and-9 at Duke’s 16-yard line, the Devils tripped up Kobe Pace short of the first down, and Bettridge pushed the lead back to 10 with a 30-yarder with 3:48 to play, and the Wahoo fans could start to taste it as they swayed and sang The Good Old Song.

Operating in hurry-up mode with no more timeouts to spare, Loftis led the Devils down the field inside the UVA 10-yard line, and floated a pass into the end zone, drawing an interference call on James Jackson, giving Duke a first-and-goal at the 2 with 1:17 left. On the next play, Loftis zipped one to Mehki Wall to trim the Cavalier lead to three.

With 1:13 remaining, Tayvonn Kyle secured Duke’s onside-kick attempt at the Devils’ 42-yard line, and the Hoos went into victory formation for just the second time this year in front of the Scott Stadium crowd.

The Hoos racked up 448 yards of total offense — 278 passing, 170 rushing — and did not turn the ball over all day. The 12 penalties for 117 yards will certainly be a topic of discussion going into the final week of the season.

Fields made the most of his 4 catches, accounting for 74 yards and his third TD grab of the season, while Harrison added 42 yards on 3 receptions. Pace registered 75 all-purpose yards (54 rushing, 21 receiving), while Hollins ran for 50 yards on 7 attempts.

Team Notes

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

  • Virginia is 41-33 all-time against Duke and has won eight of the last nine matchups against the Blue Devils. The two teams have played every year since 1963.
  • UVA has won six-straight meetings against Duke at Scott Stadium.
  • The Cavaliers clinched their first ACC win at Scott Stadium since Oct. 23, 2021, a 48-40 win over Georgia Tech.
  • Virginia rushed for 170 total yards in the contest, the sixth-straight game UVA has produced a 100-yard team rushing effort. The last time UVA rushed for 100 yards as a team in six-straight games was 2020.
  • Eight different Cavaliers caught a pass in the contest, tied for the most in a game this season (8 different pass catchers vs. William & Mary).
  • Virginia did not commit a turnover for the second time this season (0 turnovers vs. Tennessee). UVA forced two turnovers (interception and a fumble) for the third time this season.

Player Notes

  • Wide receiver Malik Washington broke UVA’s single-season receiving yards record and the program’s single-season receptions record in the contest. Washington had eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns on the day. For the season he has 96 catches, 1,311 yards receiving and nine touchdowns.
  • Washington broke the UVA single-season receiving yards record with a 34-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter to give the Cavaliers a 7-0 advantage. Washington surpassed the UVA single-season receptions record and setup UVA’s go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter with a 27-yard catch.
  • Washington is tied for ninth-most receptions by an ACC player (96) in a single season. He needs 36 receiving yards to crack the ACC’s top-10 single-season receiving yardage list.
  • Washington extended his consecutive games with a reception to 36.
  • Washington’s nine receiving touchdowns on the year are tied with Germane Crowell (1997), Heath Miller (2002), Olamide Zaccheaus (2018), Dontayvion Wicks (2021) for the fifth-most ever in a single-season in UVA history.
  • Washington has produced six-straight 100-yard receiving efforts and has nine total on the season, the most in the nation. The nine 100-yard receiving games are a single-season school record, the most in the nation and tied with Germane Crowell (1995-97) and Kris Burd (2008-11) for the most in a career by a UVA player.
  • Anthony Colandrea was 21-for 30 with 278 yards passing and three touchdowns. He added 66 rushing yards and was responsible for 344 yards of total offense. The win was his first as a starting quarterback at UVA.
  • True freshman Kam Robinson led UVA with 11 tackles (7 solo). It marked his third double-digit tackle effort of the season. He also added a pass break up and a tackle for loss.
  • True freshman Caleb Hardy was credited with his first career interception that ultimately led to UVA’s third touchdown. He also recovered a fumble in the contest, his first of his career. The fumble was forced by Jonas Sanker, his team-best third of the season.
  • Tayvonn Kyle matched his career-high with nine tackles and recovered Duke’s onside kick attempt in the fourth quarter to seal the Cavalier victory.
  • Mike Diatta recorded his first sack of the season and second of his career, bringing down Grayson Loftis to force fourth down late in the first quarter. He finished with three tackles.

Game Stats

Scoring Summary
Duke       0  10  3 14 — 27
Virginia   7   3 14  6 — 30

First Quarter
UVA (7:29) — Washington 34-yd pass from Colandrea (Bettridge kick). UVA 7, Duke 0.

Second Quarter
Duke (11:00) — Calhoun 7-yd pass from Loftis (Pelino kick). UVA 7, Duke 7.
UVA (8:29) — Bettridge 46-yd field goal. UVA 10, Duke 7.
Duke (0:00) — Pelino 29-yd field goal. UVA 10, Duke 10.

Third Quarter
UVA (11:03) — Fields 29-yd pass from Colandrea (Bettridge kick). UVA 17, Duke 10.
UVA (6:33) — Washington 34-yd pass from Colandrea (Bettridge kick). UVA 24, Duke 10.
Duke (4:23) — Pelino 34-yd field goal. UVA 24, Duke 13.

Fourth Quarter
UVA (10:18) — Bettridge 21-yd field goal. UVA 27, Duke 13.
Duke (9:03) — Moore 58-yd run (Pelino kick). UVA 27, Duke 20.
UVA (3:43) — Bettridge 30-yd field goal. UVA 30, Duke 20.
Duke (1:13) — Wall 2-yd pass from Loftis (Pelino kick). UVA 30, Duke 27.

Player Stats

UVA — Anthony Colandrea 9-66; Kobe Pace 21-54; Mike Hollins 7-50; Grady Brosterhous 2-4; Team 2-(minus-4). TOTAL — 41-170.
DUKE — Jaquez Moore 9-100; Jordan Waters 12-45; Jaylen Coleman 4-18; Jordan Moore 1-1; Grayson Loftis 2-(minus-5). TOTAL — 28-159.

UVA — Malik Washington 8-112; Malachi Fields 4-74; Suderian Harrison 3-42; Kobe Pace 2-21; Ethan Davies 1-9; Mike Hollins 1-8; JR Wilson 1-7; Grant Misch 1-5. TOTAL — 21-278.
DUKE — Jordan Moore 9-117; Jalon Calhoun 4-52; Sahmir Hagans 4-40; Mekhi Wall 5-36; Jaylen Coleman 3-21; Jontavis Robertson 1-12. TOTAL — 26-278.

UVA — Anthony Colandrea 21-30-278-3-0. TOTAL — 21-30-278-3-0.
DUKE — Grayson Loftis 26-45-278-2-1. TOTAL — 26-45-278-2-1.


Virginia wraps up the 2023 season on Saturday at Scott Stadium against Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m., ACC Network). The Hokies (5-6, 4-3) will be fighting for bowl eligibility in the 102nd meeting between the in-state rivals.