Sept. 30, 2006
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -Jeffrey Fitzgerald returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown late in the first half - one of several times Virginia capitalized on mistakes by Duke - to lead the Cavaliers past the Blue Devils 37-0 on Saturday.
Jason Snelling ran for 92 yards and a touchdown for the Cavaliers (2-3, 1-1 ACC), who earned their first Atlantic Coast Conference win behind a dominating defense that had the Blue Devils (0-4, 0-3) fighting for every small gain.
Duke finished with 100 yards on 61 plays, with much of that woeful total coming in the fourth quarter. It marked the third shutout loss for Duke this season, joining a humbling 13-0 loss to Division I-AA Richmond to open the season and a 36-0 loss at Virginia Tech two weeks ago.
Virginia didn't do much on offense, either. The Cavaliers finished with 253 yards to continue their offensive inconsistency. But it hardly mattered against a Duke team that flirted most of the day with averaging less than 1 yard per play.
In addition to a blocked punt that set up Snelling's 1-yard TD run midway through the first quarter, Duke committed five turnovers and fumbled a snap on a fourth-and-1 from its own 29 in the first quarter to set up a Virginia field goal.
Freshman quarterback Thad Lewis threw three interceptions, and didn't get much help from his teammates. His second interception came when tight end Nick Steffanow couldn't pull in a well-thrown ball that hit him in the hands before it ricocheted to Virginia's Marcus Hamilton.
Late in the first half, Lewis fumbled on a blindside hit by Clint Sintim
, sending the ball bouncing forward to Fitzgerald for the TD return and a 24-0 lead.
The Cavaliers forced a similar turnover deep in Duke's end late in the third quarter, with Hamilton coming virtually untouched on the blitz for a hit that sent the ball popping into the air. Fitzgerald intercepted the ball at Duke's 11, setting up Jameel Sewell's 12-yard TD pass to Tom Santi for the 30-0 lead early in the final period.
That type of defensive performance offset another offensive struggle for the Cavaliers, who came in with just 43 points in four games while ranking last in the ACC in total offense (210 yards per game).
Virginia took a 7-0 lead when wideout Emmanuel Byers connected with Fontel Mines for a 21-yard touchdown pass on the Cavaliers' first possession. Mikell Simpson closed the scoring with a 2-yard TD run in the final minute.
Sewell completed 14 of 20 passes for 105 yards, while Duke's defense - which played well despite being repeatedly thrown into bad situations and worse field position - finished with five sacks.