Daily Press (Sunday)

WR Washington’s records mean more with the win

UVA gains first ACC home victory in Elliott’s tenure

- By Nathan Warters Correspond­ent

CHARLOTTES­VILLE — It’s been mostly a bitterswee­t record-breaking season for Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington. He recently expressed his delight in putting up big numbers in his first year in the program while lamenting that it wasn’t accompanie­d by many victories for the Cavaliers.

Well, on Saturday he was able to enjoy both. The 5-foot8, 194-pound graduate student, who transferre­d from Northweste­rn in the offseason, set two school records in UVA’s 30-27 win over Duke at Scott Stadium. He caught eight passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns to break the school’s single-season marks for receptions and yards.

Washington, who now has 96 catches for 1,311 yards this season, broke the school receiving yards record on his first catch of the day. He reeled in a pass from freshman quarterbac­k Anthony Colandrea in the middle of the field, spun to his right and outraced the Duke defense for a 34-yard touchdown with 7:29 remaining in the first quarter.

The reception mark came on Washington’s 27-yard catch early in the third quarter. On the next play, Colandrea connected with receiver Malachi Fields on a 29-yard touchdown to make it 17-10 with 11:03 left in the third.

Washington’s second touchdown came on a 7-yard reception midway through the third quarter. That scoring catch, Washington’s ninth on the season, gave the Cavaliers a 24-10 lead. It marked the seventh time in 11 games this season that UVA held a double-digit advantage.

No other receiver in the country has as many 100-yard receiving games as Washington (nine), who has reached triple digits in a school-record six straight contests.

Virginia (3-8, 2-5 ACC) notched its first home conference win in Tony Elliott’s two seasons as head coach. Its previous home ACC win came against Georgia Tech on Oct. 23, 2021, when Bronco Mendenhall was at the helm.

In his second straight start in place of the injured Tony Muskett (ankle), Colandrea completed 21 of 30 passes (70%) for 278 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. It was the first time in five starts this season that Colandrea didn’t turn the ball over.

He also rushed for a team-high 66 yards. The Cavaliers rolled up 448 yards against a Blue Devils defense that ranked third in the ACC in fewest points allowed per game (18.8) and fifth in fewest passing yards allowed per game (195.6).

Duke freshman quarterbac­k Grayson Loftis, who was third on the depth chart at the start of the season but pressed into starting duty because of injuries, completed 26 of 45 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns and an intercepti­on.

His 7-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jalen Calhoun tied the score 7-7 in the second quarter. Calhoun snagged the pass and got a foot down before going out of bounds on the left side of the end zone.

Jaquez Moore led Duke (6-5, 3-4) with 100 yards on nine carries. His 58-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 27-20 with 9:03 remaining in the game.

The Cavaliers converted a fourth-and-1 near midfield with 6:30 left to prolong what would be the clinching drive. They went on to increase their lead to 10 on Will Bettridge’s 30-yard field goal. That cushion that was just enough to hold off the Blue Devils, who scored with 1:13 remaining on a 2-yard pass from Loftis to receiver Mehki Wall.

UVA recovered the ensuing onside kick to salt away the game.

Bettridge also kicked field goals of 46 and 21 yards, the latter of which gave the Cavaliers a 27-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Duke’s Todd Pelino kicked a 29-yard field goal to tie the score 10-10 as time expired in the first half. He also booted a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut Virginia’s lead to 24-13 and missed a 44-yard attempt wide left in the same quarter.

The Cavaliers’ defense forced two turnovers. Freshman safety Caleb Hardy plucked an intercepti­on out of the air with 9:41 left in the third quarter. It was his first career intercepti­on and the second turnover he was a part of in the contest. He recovered a fumble caused by free safety Jonas Sanker midway through the first quarter.

 ?? RYAN M. KELLY/GETTY ?? Record-setting Virginia receiver Malik Washington celebrates after a touchdown in the first half of the Cavaliers’ victory Saturday against Duke.
RYAN M. KELLY/GETTY Record-setting Virginia receiver Malik Washington celebrates after a touchdown in the first half of the Cavaliers’ victory Saturday against Duke.

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