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Resurgent Duke throttles Virginia

The SportsXchange

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke's resurgence continued and senior receiver Conner Vernon tacked on more than just a record as the Blue Devils upended the visiting Virginia Cavaliers 42-17 on Saturday at Wallace Wade Stadium.

In some ways, the Blue Devils made it look easy.

Vernon caught a pair of touchdown passes after setting the Atlantic Coast Conference record for career receptions.

"It's the style (in which) we did it, putting up 42 points on a good team like that," Vernon said.

The first career start for quarterback Anthony Boone was a resounding success as well. Boone, filling in for injured Sean Renfree, tied the Duke record for touchdown passes in a player's first starting assignment with four scores.

Duke is 5-1 overall, 2-0 in the ACC. Virginia (2-4, 0-2) lost its fourth game in a row.

Vernon's fourth-quarter reception for 45 yards came with Virginia defensive backs Maurice Canady and Brandon Phelps clinging to him. The Blue Devils held a 35-17 lead.

Virginia made a quarterback swap by starting Alabama transfer Phillip Sims, a sophomore, in place of junior Michael Rocco, a starter since the beginning of the 2011 season.

The Cavaliers racked up 321 yards of total offense in the first half before fizzling and managing only two net yards on the ground in the second half.

"You can't make every play," said Duke safety Walt Canty, who had 14 tackles. "We just fixed those mistakes."

Virginia's Perry Jones rushed for 100 yards on 19 attempts but had only five second-half yards.

It was Duke's largest margin of victory in an ACC game since coach David Cutcliffe's first year at the school, when the Blue Devils beat Virginia 31-3 in 2008.

"What you see is that they're executing," Virginia coach Mike London said of the Blue Devils. "They're executing their offense at a very high and efficient level. They're playing with a lot of energy."

Duke has its best record through six games since a 6-0 mark in 1994. That was the last time the Blue Devils played in a bowl.

"I love coming back to a locker room like that," Duke offensive guard Dave Harding said. "I was expecting to be (at least) 5-1. I was hoping for 6-0."

Duke took advantage of two possessions starting in Virginia territory in the third quarter by scoring a pair of touchdowns.

The Blue Devils went ahead 21-17 on Boone's 12-yard pass to Juwan Thompson on the first play after Duke took over following Vernon's 25-yard punt return and a penalty.

Jela Duncan's 11-yard touchdown run gave the Blue Devils a 28-17 edge on their next possession.

Thompson added a 34-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left in the game.

Earlier, Vernon became the ACC's all-time leader in catches. His first reception of the game gave him 233, one more than former Clemson receiver Aaron Kelly. The record-setting grab went for minus-two yards.

His next catch came on the next play for a 37-yard touchdown pass from Boone. The two-play stretch came after fifth-year senior Tony Foster's first career interception.

Virginia running back Kevin Parks, who's from North Carolina, ran for a seven-yard touchdown to cap the game's opening eight-play possession. The Cavaliers tied the game at 14-14 late in the first quarter on Perry Jones' one-yard run.

Virginia claimed a 17-14 halftime lead on Drew Jarrett's 39-yard field goal on the last play of the half after driving 62 yards in less than 25 seconds. Jarrett missed two second-half field goals.

Boone's debut as a starter had few glitches. He took the first snap for a 14-yard run before his first pass resulted in a 54-yard touchdown play to receiver Jamison Crowder.

NOTES: Duke receivers Vernon (41 games) and Desmond Scott (32) rank first and seventh nationally in consecutive games with a catch ... Virginia's Mike London is 1-2 as a head coach at Wallace Wade Stadium, winning as Richmond's coach in 2009 and losing with Virginia in 2010 and Saturday ... Virginia has a four-game losing streak for the fourth time in a five-year period.
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