Duke's football juggernaut keeps on rolling on.
Will Snyderwine (pictured) hit five field goals while Thaddeus Lewis overcame five sacks by the top-rated pass defense in the ACC as the Blue Devils got past host Virginia 28-17 at Scott Stadium.
It was the third straight victory for Duke, all in ACC, a feat the Blue Devils (5-3, 3-1 ACC) had not accomplished since 1989. The win means David Cutcliffe's squad needs to win at least two of its last four games to qualify for the school's first bowl bid since 1994, and with two wins a bowl invitation would be a mortal lock.
It was Duke's second straight win on the road and third road win this season.
Lewis, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 343 yards against the ACC's best pass defense, gave his team an 18-17 lead on a 42-yard pass to Connor Vernon with 3:45 left.
Charlie Hatcher then recovered a fumble from the Cavaliers' Jameel Sewell 23 seconds later, returning it seven yards for a touchdown with Snyderwine's boot making it 25-17.
After Virginia failed on fourth down, Snyderwine was able to remove all doubt by nailing a 42-yard field goal with 1:15 remaining.
Virginia (3-5, 2-2 ACC) dropped its second straight game and its second straight to Duke.
Duke's defense again came up big, holding the Cavaliers to 196 yards total offense to the Blue Devils' 423.
Sewell completed eight of 22 passes for 86 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Vernon had seven catches for 106 yards, while Donovan Varner had seven for 112 for Duke.
O'KELLY-RIDDICK STADIUM/DURHAM It's Homecoming day at N.C. Central, and for Eagles everywhere that means it's a big game no matter the identity of the opponent.
This time, it's Central State of Ohio, an Historically Black institution that belongs to the Division II Great Lakes Football Conference.
The Eagles come into the game with a 1-6 record, while CSU is 1-7.
NCCU lost its first six games before a 52-7 home romp over NAIA member Central Methodist two weeks ago, that coming after Rison challenged his team to win its final five games.
The crowd isn't as big as at some recent homecoming contests, but that may change if the early-afternoon mist subsides. It does, increasing to an SRO situation with 10,319 who see the Eagles roll to a 53-22 win.
NCCU's first drive is sloppy at times, but effective as quarterback Michael Johnson scrambles untouched down the left sideline 16 yards to complete an 11-play, 72-yard march. Frankie Cardelle's boot makes it 7-0 at the 10:41 mark.
Back come the Marauders with an eight-play, 59-yard drive, with Joshua Anderson going in from a yard out. The kick is good and it's 7-7 at 7:58.
NCCU scores again on its next possession but it's only a field goal, a 32-yard boot from Cardelle to end a 14-play, 58-yard march with 1:01 left in the period.
The Eagles get the game's first break when Rakeem Vick intercepts a Jeff Brooks pass at the CSU 26. Johnson connects with Will Scott, who cuts across the grain to go all the way before Cardelle adds the boot with 43.2 seconds left in the quarter to make it 17-7.
TV/RAYCOM—Florida State had just scored, the latest team to cross the plane in a game where neither team could stop the other. They'd just recaptured the lead 45-42 with 96 ticks remaining. A faint "d-fense, d-fense" chant began among Seminole fans in Doak Campbell Stadium, sounding more pleading than confident.
For four quarters, this contest looked like your classic "whoever has the ball last will win" script. Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson tossed five TDs. Florida State's running game accounted for 278 yards and a five scores of its own.
As the Seminoles prepared to kick off, Raycom ACC football analyst Doc Walker summed the game up best. "Highly entertaining. I doubt if either of these teams will be named champion this year, but highly entertaining," Walker said. "You're just not going to beat anybody really good if you can't stop them."
N.C. Central football coach Mose Rison issued his team a challenge after the Eagles went 0-6 in the first "half" of their football schedule.
Win the last five games. There is no Duke, Appalachian State or Liberty capable of whipping the Eagles by a big score left on the schedule.
So far, so good.
NCCU easily disposed of NAIA member Central Methodist two weeks ago, and had no trouble at all last week with Open Date.
On Saturday at 1:30 the Eagles will host Division II Central State of Ohio (1-7) in their annual homecoming game, and NCCU will be a heavy favorite.
Things will get tougher next week as NCCU finished with three Division I (Championship Subdivision) opponents. But if the Eagles aren't 2-6 coming out of Saturday's contest against E.J. Junior's Marauders it would be an unmitigated disaster.
"Sometimes it's hard when you're the favorite," Rison said. "You try as a coaching staff not to let the kids get into a comfortable position where they think the game's already won. That is the message we've been sending out to the kids. They're 1-7 but at the same time we're 1-6. We need to get our second wind. We still have a sense of urgency. We've set a goal for the last five games to win all five. This game happens to be the second one of those and we want to accomplish that goal.
"At the same time it's homecoming. Our seniors are going to play their last homecoming game for North Carolina Central University. We like to have our seniors go out the right way. It will be meaningful for those kids because it's winding down. After this week there'll be three more games for our seniors to play."
UNC and Duke are both in the Top 6 in the Associated Press' preseason women's basketball poll, while three other ACC members are in the Top 25.
Connecticut is a unanimous No. 1 in the ranking with all 40 first-place votes, followed by Stanford, Ohio State, Notre Dame, UNC and Duke. Virginia is No. 14, Florida State No. 15 and Georgia Tech No. 19.
Also, the ACC has announced that ticket books for its women's basketball tournament, which will be held March 4-7 at the Greensboro Coliseum, are now on sale.
Ticket books may be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com, via Ticketmaster's Charge-By-Phone Network at 800-745-3000, at Ticketmaster outlets and at the Coliseum advance box office.
TV/ESPN -- Remember when Connor Barth lined up and nailed a a 42-yard field goal to beat No. 4 Miami in Chapel Hill as time expired?
Well, fast forward five years later and Casey Barth continued the family legacy and made two field goals in the fourth quarter against No. 14 Virginia Tech, including the game-winning boot as the clock ticked to zero.
The kick snapped an eight-year losing streak to ranked opponents on the road and mirrored the elder Barth's game-winner. It wasn't pretty and and just sneaked its way through the uprights.
For the first time all season, UNC's offense showed heart, rallying from a T.J. Yates interception that looked to seal a Virginia Tech fourth quarter rally.
But instead, Yates directed a 16-play drive, including clutch catches from Greg Little and Zack Pianalto. The drive ended with Casey Barth's first made field goal of the game, and stole 8:59 off the clock and left the Hokies with little time to win the game.
After the ensuing kickoff, freshman Hokie running back Ryan Williams took a handoff on third-and-7 and lost a costly fumble. UNC defensive back Deunta Williams recovered and returned the ball inside the Hokie 25-yard line, allowing the UNC offense to run the clock down and score the winning three points. Ryan Williams had a towel over his head the rest of the game and was comforted by UNC linebacker Quan Sturdivant after time expired.
Duke loves to host the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, and the Division I Women's Basketball Committee is returning the love for the second straight year.
Duke, which will host the first two rounds at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, will also host the first two rounds in 20011, the NCAA has announced.
The games will be held either March 19-21 or March 20-22, 2011.
"We are thrilled to once again host the NCAA Tournament in the most amazing collegiate basketball venue in the world," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie (pictured) said. "Cameron Indoor Stadium is special and the program history is filled with pride, tradition and excellence. We are honored by the opportunity to be an NCAA host site for the second straight year."
ACC rivals Maryland and Virginia were also selected as the early-round sites for the 2011 tournament, which will move on to regionals in Dayton, Ohio; Philadelphia; Dallas; and Spokane, Washington with the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Duke, which will host for the 11th time in school history and the second consecutive year in 2011, will host this season's First and Second Rounds on March 20-22.
Duke has won 12 straight NCAA Tournament games at Cameron.
TV/ESPN -- Another first-half offensive slugfest for the Tar Heels ... but this time, UNC looked the better team and scored on a touchdown pass with less than three minutes to play.
After being torched by FSU's Christian Ponder last Thursday, UNC's defense made key plays on third and fourth down, stopping two key fourth down pass attempts by Tyrod Taylor in UNC territory.
Key series of the half: On third-and-3 in Hokie territory, Greg Little motioned into the backfield and rushed for 23 yards deep into Hokie territory. Little also caught a 17-yard pass on the drive, which milked much of the clock in the second quarter.
Little set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Yates to freshman receiver Jheranie Boyd and put the Heels up by seven points.
Key stats of the half: One -- that's how many more carries freshman stud running back Ryan Williams had than Taylor, who spent the first half scrambling for his life.
Williams opened the game with a 25-yard rush only to see his carries diminish as the Hokies got impatient on offense and elected to pass the ball down field.
What to watch for in the second half: Which team sticks to the run? Both the Hokies and Heels ran the ball effectively and looked terrible when passing. If the Hokies start plugging away with Williams, the Heels' front seven should be in for a long night, especially considering the margin the Hokies are winning the field position battle.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Carolina RailHawks president Brian Wellman confirmed that the dissident group of USL-1 club owners known as the Team Owners Association (TOA) would be submitting an application to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) to form a new league.
"We'll be submitting an application to USSF for a new league as soon as tomorrow," Wellman said in a phone interview from Charleston, S.C., where he was meeting with Andrew Bell, president of the USL-1 Charleston Battery, to coordinate the scheduling of friendlies next season.
"Nothing's changed as far as the teams go," Wellman said of the composition of the proposed new league. The TOA consists of five former USL-1 clubs (Minnesota , Miami FC, Montreal, Vancouver and Carolina) and three ownership groups (in Atlanta, Tampa Bay and St. Louis).
Wellman suggested that the TOA has heard from other member prospects, as well.* "We have at least one conversation a day with people representing new markets. Even without media coverage [of the dispute], there's a lot of interest in the league."
Furthermore, Wellman left open the possibility that the new league might follow the FIFA calendar, playing during the winter months.
If the TOA settles on a winter schedule, Wellman said, "It wouldn't be this winter. It would start sometime in the summer, and prorate as our fiscal year went along."
Duke got its most impressive football win in Durham in a very long time last season in a 31-3 romp over Virginia.
On Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Scott Stadium, the homsetanding Cavaliers will come out looking for revenge.
That it's a must-win contest for the Cavaliers (3-4, 2-1 ACC) is something everyone probably knew when the season started. Duke, not so much.
The Blue Devils (4-3, 2-1) are having their best season in 15 years unless something derails it, and the Cavaliers will be intending to do just that.
Duke was also 4-3 last season, but that felt more like a miracle. This time coach David Cutcliffe is seriously talking bowl, and that can happen if the Devils beat Virginia and the other two unranked opponents (UNC, Wake Forest) on the schedule. But if Virginia wins on Saturday it means Duke will have to beat a ranked opponent to be playing in December.
Duke has won two straight ACC games and already has a pair of road victories this season.
Virginia had won three of its last four before falling 34-9 at home to No. 11 Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Cutcliffe said Virginia, which he said hits harder than anyone on the schedule, will be another big challenge.
"They've got speed and skill and athleticism on offense, guys that can take it to the house," the Duke coach said. "They're very balanced and always have a back that can run the football. They got off like we did to a slow start, but have played some excellent football as of late. This is a tremendous matchup. It looks like it will be a great atmosphere and we're excited about the challenge.
"(Nose tackle Nate). Collins is terrific. He's a heck of a pro prospect and one of the most productive guys in our league right now. We're going to run the ball better. I think anybody that looks at us would say 'we're going to find a way to make you beat us running,' but we're going to find a way to throw the football. That just changes our course of how to throw it."
Virginia coach Al Groh, who may be on the coaching hot seat, said controlling Duke's hot quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is a major key to who wins this week.
"He's showing the value of being a four-year starter," Groh said of Lewis. "When we played him as a true freshman (in 2006) ... it was pretty challenging for him. He had a difficult time that day, as might be expected with a first-year quarterback against an ACC defense.
"He's now a fourth-year quarterback with ... more starts than any quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference at this current time. So, that certainly shows, not only the fourth year as an ACC starter, but the second year under Cutcliffe who has great experience and know-how and development of quarterbacks. He clearly has profited by that."