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Halftime: Virginia 20, Duke 10

The Blue Devils avoided the turnovers and penalties that plagued them through three games in last week's statement win at Notre Dame.

But through 30 minutes in Week 5, Duke's inconsistent offense has reared its ugly head.

Four first-half Daniel Jones interceptions in Virginia territory gave the Cavaliers momentum, with two Virginia touchdowns in the final five minutes of the second quarter quieting the Blue Devil homecoming crowd. The Cavaliers lead 20-10 at the break, with quarterback Kurt Benkert 13-of-23 for 252 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way.

After two punts and a turnover on downs, the high-powered Cavalier offense finally began clicking, finding holes in a Blue Devil secondary missing captain DeVon Edwards.

Duke scored on a post route by sophomore T.J. Rahming, but Benkert got Virginia on the board when he found sophomore wideout David Eldridge for a 28-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-4 with 38 seconds left to play in the first quarter. On the ensuing extra point, the Cavaliers decided to go for two but did not find the end zone, preserving the Blue Devils' 7-6 lead in the first quarter.

After a pair of drives that resulted in only 16 yards and two punts in the second quarter, the Cavaliers were finally able to cash on a Jones interception when Benkert escaped pressure and found Eldridge for 84 yards. Eldridge was brought down by Breon Borders at the two-yard line, and two plays later, Albert Reid punched it in on the ground to give Virginia a 13-10 lead—its first of the afternoon.

Benkert continued to make plays in the second-quarter, leading a seven-play, 65-yard drive with less than two minutes in the half and finding sophomore wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus in the corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left in the second quarter.

Jones was at his best on his second drive of the game, completing all five of his passes, including the 23-yard strike to Rahming. But the redshirt freshman struggled the rest of the way, often miscommunicating with receivers and throwing into coverage to finish with four first-half miscues. He finished the half 17-of-28 for 165 yards.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • Because of Edwards' season-ending knee injury last week against Notre Dame, redshirt freshman Jordan Hayes started at the rover safety position for the first time this season and had seven tackles.
  • Duke now leads the nation with 15 turnovers halfway through its fifth game of the season, with Blue Devils frequently not on the same page once again.
  • Redshirt freshman linebacker Joe Giles-Harris was very active for the Blue Devils, recording seven tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
  • Duke had 74 rushing yards compared to Virginia's 17, but the Cavaliers' explosive passing plays made up for their struggles on the ground.
  • After starting the season 0-of-3 on field goal tries, Blue Devil kicker A.J. Reed is now 2-of-2 in his last two contests. His 38-yard field goal early in the second quarter was a career-long for the true freshman.

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