Cavaliers Victorious in Conference Opener

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Tailback Cedric Peerman
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Tailback Cedric Peerman
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

Sept. 8, 2007

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Cedric Peerman ran for 137 yards and a touchdown to help Virginia overcome some wretched special teams play and defeat Duke 24-13 Saturday in both teams' conference opener.

Tight end Tom Santi also caught two touchdowns, and backup quarterback Peter Lalich led a 15-play touchdown drive that allowed the Cavaliers (1-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to put the game away in the fourth quarter.

Duke was looking to end a 21-game losing streak dating to a 2005 victory over VMI. The Blue Devils have not beaten a major college football program since 2004.

Virginia posted its 600th win in school history.

Lalich, a freshman, came in twice to spell starter Jameel Sewell. With Virginia leading just 17-13 after three quarters, Lalich led an 82-yard drive, completing 8 of 10 passes and finishing with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Santi to give Virginia a 24-13 lead.

Only Virginia's woeful effort on special teams, including three bad snaps by Danny Aiken, kept Duke (0-2, 0-1) in the game. A snap over the head of punter Ryan Wiegand rolled 35 yards out of the back of the end zone for a safety that made it 14-2 late in the first quarter.

Late in the third quarter, another high snap on a punt gave Duke the ball at Virginia's 16. On third down, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis hit Jomar Wright over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown, followed by a 2-point conversion to make it 17-10.

On the ensuing kickoff, Andrew Pearman fumbled, and Duke recovered at Virginia's 19-yard line. But the Blue Devils could manage only a 21-yard field goal by Joe Surgan to make it 17-13 with 1:04 remaining in the third.

A low snap on a 22-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter contributed to a blocked kick returned 61 yards by Rodney Ezzard to Virginia's 34. But Duke could not capitalize, missing a 26-yard field goal attempt, one of three misses by Surgan. He also missed a 45-yarder and a 40-yarder with seven minutes left that would have brought Duke within eight.

Lalich finished 13-of-18 for 131 yards and a touchdown; Sewell was 9-of-14 for 60 yards and a score. Of Peerman's 137 yards, 120 came in the first half.

The Cavaliers jumped on Duke as soon as they got the ball at the start of the game, with Vic Hall returning a punt 67 yards to Duke's 4-yard line. Santi caught a 7-yard touchdown pass two plays later from Sewell to make it 7-0.

On Virginia's second possession, Peerman ran untouched for a 58-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 just seven minutes into the game.

For Duke, Lewis finished 14-of-30 for 137 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.