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Five observations and more from Duke football's first half against Virginia

<p>Bryce Perkins punched in three touchdowns for the Cavaliers on the ground, part of Virginia's methodical offensive attack.</p>

Bryce Perkins punched in three touchdowns for the Cavaliers on the ground, part of Virginia's methodical offensive attack.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—The Blue Devils offense has struggled mightily in the first half, allowing the Cavaliers to jump out to a 17-0 lead as the two teams head to the locker room. Here are some quick observations and stats from the first half of Duke's matchup with Virginia.

Five observations:

1. Sparked by a long kickoff return, Virginia's offense got it going on its first drive, going 45 yards on 12 plays before an interception in the end zone halted the scoring effort. That pick seemed to throw off the Cavaliers' momentum, as they went three-and-out on their next two drives.

2. Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins started off the game with his legs, leading the team with eight attempts for 30 yards in the first quarter. He's seen much more success moving the ball with his arm, stringing together multiple long passes in the second quarter before capping off the drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cavaliers up 7-0.

3. Duke's defense has shown up with some big plays, as sophomore cornerback Leonard Johnson recorded the second interception of his career and almost had another one the next drive as he broke up a pass. Senior linebacker Koby Quansah tied for the team lead with six tackles, including a tackle for loss.

4. The Blue Devils' passing offense has been nonexistent in the first half, with an abysmal 27 passing yards and an interception for Duke quarterback Quentin Harris. As a whole, the Blue Devils have just 72 yards of total offense. 

5. In a defensive battle, Virginia has won the field position game, aided by Harris' interception and a failed fourth down attempt. 

By the numbers:

  • Three Duke first downs: Duke managed just three first downs in the first half, going 0-for-5 on third down and failing on its sole fourth-down attempt. 
  • 1.5 sacks for Victor Dimukeje: The defensive end was once again a menace for opposing quarterbacks in the first half, tacking on another 1.5 sacks to follow up his three-sack game last week. 
  • Virginia dominates time of possession: The Cavaliers have been dominant in controlling the ball, as they strung together several drives in the second quarter while the Duke offense sputtered.

A moment that mattered:

Rolling to his right under pressure, Harris made an ill-advised throw that landed directly in the hands of Virginia cornerback Brenton Nelson to set up a field goal that put the Cavaliers up 10-0.