There was no need for a wing-T tonight. Virginia is no longer in need of a gimmick. The Cavaliers ran 282 yards, passed 275 yards, and shut down a quarterback many say is the best in the land.
Virginia scored more points tonight than it had in any other Atlantic Coast Conference football game in 10 years and beat Duke, 38-30, at Scott Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
As cannons fired in the end zone to salute Virginia's victory, 28,947 left the stadium, many with eyebrows still raised over the performances of Virginia quarterback Wayne Schuchts, receiver Quentin Walker and tailback Antonio Rice.
Walker had the biggest numbers; he caught two passes for 145 yards--one for 65 yards, the other for 80 and both for touchdowns--and ran 58 yards for a score. Rice, from McKinley Tech, carried 16 times for 67 yards, which helped weaken Duke's defense and make it vulnerable to the pass.
And Schuchts completed 10 of 21 passes for 271 yards. He passed for three touchdowns and ran for another. He also stole the attention from Duke quarterback Ben Bennett, who spent more time handing off than almost anyone would have expected.
"If you can't get up to play the guy who's supposed to be the best quarterback in the nation," Schuchts said, "then you can't get up."
After Duke and Virginia had each missed field goal attempts to open the game, Virginia took possession (after a Duke punt) on its own 35. On the next play, Schuchts threw the ball 40 yards to Walker, who ran past a cornerback named Mark Moseley, caught the ball between two defenders and ran 25 more yards to complete the 65-yard touchdown play.
"We've been running those routes in practice and we've been beating our own defensive backs with it," Schuchts said. "They've seen them dozens of times, so I figured we could beat defensive backs who hadn't seen them."
Walker's touchdown put Virginia ahead, 7-0. But Duke tied the game with 1:16 remaining in the first quarter on a 47-yard pass from Bennett to Gary Frederick. Bennett would go on to complete 25 of 40 passes for 253 yards--not bad numbers. But Steve Sloan, making his debut as Duke's head coach, called a rather conservative game plan, and Bennett never got the string of completions that his team needed.
The Cavaliers regained the lead, 14-7, less than a minute into the second quarter on Walker's second electrifying play. He took a reverse handoff from fullback Howard Petty, and headed left. The defense was so amazingly fooled its players kept pursuing Petty, who was going the opposite direction. By the time the Devils knew what was happening, Walker--who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds--was finishing a 58-yard touchdown run, untouched.
Duke's conservative approach continued, but it did get the Blue Devils a touchdown to make it 14-14 with 10 minutes left in the half. Mike Grayson, from Falls Church High, ran 37 yards to the Virginia 18, and his play was followed by Julius Grantham's 18-yard touchdown run.
The game was tied at 21 at halftime after Schuchts' 21-yard touchdown pass to Billy Smith and Bennett's four-yard touchdown pass to Grantham.
But Virginia took the lead for good, 24-21, midway through the third quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Kenny Stadlin. That came just minutes after Duke's Ken Harper blew the second of three missed field goals--this one from 46 yards out.
"That was absolutely critical," Sloan said afterward. "If we'd gone ahead, I think it would have given us a big boost. Instead, I think our kids got a little down."
After Harper missed his third field goal attempt, from 36 yards out, Virginia went again to the big play. Schuchts, on first down from the 20, threw 40 yards again to Walker, who pulled out of Moseley's grasp, stumbled for a few steps, then ran the final 40 yards into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown play to make it 31-21.
Moseley, a sophomore, was playing only because starter Johnny Hill, the Devil's best defensive back, was out with a pulled hamstring. Sloan, however, was still upset.
"What I can't believe is that we got killed on deep passes the way we did," he said. "If you get beat deep like that three times in a season you feel bad. To have it happen three times in the same game is unbelievable."
Harper did finally make a field goal, from 20 yards, to pull Duke within 31-24. But Schuchts scored on a one-yard sneak with 6:53 left for a 38-24 lead, which made insignificant Bennett's 26-yard touchdown pass to Frederick with just more than four minutes to play.
"There were still a lot of questions coming in here," Schuchts said. "Could we move the ball consistently? Could we not turn it over? Would we fold in a close game?"
Virginia left tonight with more answers than questions.