DURHAM, N.C. - Trailing 48-47 late in the fourth quarter, Duke running back Desmond Scott broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run and the Blue Devils would go on to defeat Virginia, 55-48, Saturday afternoon in front of 22,741 fans at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Duke freshman quarterback Brandon Connette rushed for the two-point conversion, registering the final points of a fourth quarter which saw the two teams combine for six touchdowns and 41 points. Duke's 55 points marks the highest scoring total for the Blue Devils since Duke put up 57 points in a win over Wake Forest on Nov. 3, 1990.
Heading into the final frame, Duke (3-6, 1-4 ACC) led 34-28 and added to its lead early in the period after a Walt Canty interception set the Blue Devils up on the UVa 14. A one-yard quarterback sneak by quarterback Sean Renfree padded the Duke advantage, but the Blue Devils were unable to reach the end zone on the two-point conversion to head into the final 12 minutes of play with a 12-point lead.
Virginia's (4-5, 1-4 ACC) next possession resulted in a nine-play, 78-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard pass from UVa quarterback Marc Verica to tailback Perry Jones, cutting the Duke advantage to five.
The back-and-forth scoring continued as Duke again extended its lead to 12 following a 37-yard scramble to the end zone by Renfree. The Scottsdale, Ariz., native's run marked the longest of his career as Renfree has now registered four rushing scores in the past two games.
However, Virginia needed only 1:23 to reach the end zone again, narrowing the lead to 47-42, and a Duke fumble on its next possession gave UVa the ball at the Blue Devil 26 with 3:55 to play. The Cavaliers capitalized on the opportunity, taking the one-point lead on a 10-yard Verica strike to tailback Keith Payne.
After leading for the majority of the afternoon, Duke faced a deficit with 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the game appeared to have slipped away from the Blue Devils as they faced a fourth-and-20 situation in their own territory. Undaunted, Renfree would hit receiver Donovan Varner, who finished the game with 73 yards on four catches, for a 32-yard gain. Two plays later, Scott slipped down the left sideline and raced past the Cavalier defense for the game-winning touchdown.
For the game, Renfree completed 17-of-29 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for two scores. On the ground, Duke was led by Scott with 97 yards on 17 carries and Connette with 78 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Cooper Helfet caught seven passes for a career-high 122 yards and a touchdown as well.
In addition, the Duke defense forced three Virginia turnovers as cornerback Ross Cockrell picked off two passes and safety Walt Canty also recorded an interception. The last time Duke had three interceptions in a game was at Virginia Tech on Nov. 22, 2008.
Virginia's offense was paced by quarterback Verica, who completed 24-of-46 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Tailback Keith Payne ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while receiver Dontrelle Inman caught 10 passes for 239 yards.
Duke began the game with consecutive touchdown drives on its first three possessions and led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. However, Virginia would outscore the Blue Devils 14-3 in the second quarter, narrowing Duke's lead to 24-21 heading into halftime. Duke surrendered the lead midway through the third quarter, but the Blue Devils scored 10 answered points to end the period.
At halftime, Duke honored former Blue Devil Clarkston Hines, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 7, 2010 in New York, N.Y. "Today is incredible," Hines said. "To come here and to be honored in this manner is extremely special. The game of football is not an individual sport; it's a team sport, so I'm representing Duke and everybody associated with the program back then. It's special." The 1989 ACC Player of the Year, Hines was a two-time first team All-America pick in 1988 and 1989 and finished his career with 189 receptions for 3,318 yards and 38 touchdowns.
The Blue Devils return to action next Saturday, Nov. 13, as Boston College travels to Durham for a 12 p.m. match-up with Duke.