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Duke football stumbles at Virginia. Three takeaways from Blue Devils’ loss to Cavaliers

Virginia’s Scott Stadium continued to be a house of horrors for Duke football on Saturday as the Blue Devils lost 30-27 to the Cavaliers for their sixth consecutive loss in Charlottesville.

After the game was tied 10-10 at halftime, Duke (6-5, 3-4 ACC) saw Virginia (3-8, 2-5 ACC) take control in the third quarter when quarterback Anthony Colandrea fired a pair of touchdown passes.

The Blue Devils cut Virginia’s lead to 27-20 when Jaquez Moore scampered 58 yards for a touchdown with 9:03 to play. But Colandrea drove the Cavaliers to the Duke 13 before Will Bettridge kicked a 30-yard field goal giving the Cavaliers a 30-20 lead with 3:43 to play.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Duke fourth-quarter rally

As was the case a week ago when the Blue Devils overcame a double-digit deficit to force UNC into double overtime before losing, they battled back from a desperate situation again.

Trailing 27-13 in the fourth quarter, Duke quarterback Grayson Loftis completed an 11-yard pass on fourth down to Mehki Wall moving Duke its 42. After an incomplete pass, Moore took a hand off and weaved his way through the line to fine open field and complete a 58-yard touchdown run that cut Virginia’s lead to 27-20.

With Virginia leading 30-20, Loftis drove the Blue Devils 75 yards on 14 plays and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Wall for a touchdown with 1:13 to play that left Duke down 30-27.

Duke attempted an onside kick but the Cavaliers recovered and ran out the clock.

Duke’s defense can’t contain freshman QB

Seeing top NFL prospect Drake Maye shred Duke’s defense a week ago was one thing. But the Blue Devils gave up big play after big play to Virginia freshman quarterback Anthony Colandrea this time.

Colandrea threw for 278 yards, helping the Cavaliers run up 448 total yards of offense. It’s the fourth time in five games Duke has allowed 400 yards of offense or more. It came a week after UNC finished with 537 yards in its win over Duke.

Colandrea completed 21 of 30 passes while throwing for three touchdowns with no interceptions. He threw deep touchdown passes covering 34 and 29 yards. In total, he completed eight passes of 17 yards or more.

Virginia’s running game also unleashed explosive plays, logging seven rushes of 10 yards or more.

Duke offense sputters

Running back Jaquez Moore topped the 100-yard mark in rushing, including a 58-yard touchdown run.

But the Blue Devils weren’t explosive in the passing game with Loftis, a freshman, as its starting quarterback once again. Loftis completed only three passes of 15 yards or more. For the game, he finished 26 of 45 passing for 278 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Blue Devils reached Virginia territory in eight of their 12 drives, but couldn’t maximize their scoring opportunities. Running back Jordan Waters lost a fumble at the Virginia 15 in the first quarter.

Two Duke other drives that moved the ball inside the Virginia 20 resulted in Todd Pelino field goals. Pelino missed a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter after Duke reached the Virginia 27.

Failures on third down were a huge issue for the Blue Devils, who only converted 5 of 14 into first downs.