Going into Saturday’s game against Virginia, senior wide receiver Conner Vernon needed just one catch to break the ACC record for all-time receptions of 232 set by Clemson’s Aaron Kelly in 2008. It did not take him very long. Slightly more than six minutes into the first quarter of the team’s 42-17 win, Vernon caught a pass for a two-yard loss from redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Boone. The catch was Vernon’s 41st of year and gave the receiver a total of 555 yards on the season.
“He broke the record on not so flashy of a play,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “But 42-17 took care of that. I told him that’s pretty flashy to win it in that fashion.”
Vernon has been the model of consistency during his Duke career. He has caught a pass in all 41 of the games he has played, the longest active streak of consecutive games with a reception. In 40 of those games, he has had multiple receptions. He did that once again on Saturday just moments after setting the ACC record, catching a 37-yard touchdown from Boone. The touchdown gave him 17 for his career, moving him into a tie for sixth place in Duke history for touchdown receptions.
“The day I stepped on campus at Duke, I never thought I’d be the all-time leader in receptions. It’s just a blessing,” Vernon said.
Vernon added another touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter, moving into sole possession of fifth place all-time for receiving touchdowns at Duke. For his career, Vernon now has 3,230 receiving yards—just 88 yards short of Clarkston Hines’s Duke record for career receiving yards and fewer than 300 yards away from Peter Warrick’s ACC yardage record.