The Virginia football team needed a win after stumbling out of the blocks this season and the Cavaliers got a victory in a lopsided way against Duke, taking a 37-0 score home from Durham. While several things went well for the Hoos, they set the tone with a pair of plays early that combined for “The Turning Point” of the ACC showdown.
The two plays occurred moments apart as UVa turned the 0-0 opening score into 17-0 in less than six minutes of game time. After establishing good field position with a Mike Brown punt return, the Cavalier offense put together a short, four-play drive to score first in a game for the first time this season.
The play that shares “Turning Point” honors was of the trick variety. Receiver Emmanuel Byers lined up in a running back slot as part of a split backfield formation. After the snap, the handoff went directly to Byers, who ran a sprint out to the right side of the field. At the same time, receiver Fontel Mines released behind the Duke secondary, which crashed the line in run support.
That made the rest of the play a simple game of catch. Byers lofted a soft pass down field to the wide-open Mines, who waited in the end zone for the score and a 7-0 lead.
“That was the right time for it. Mike [Groh] made a real good call at that time early in the game rather than saving it. You don’t know when you’re going to get down there again,” Groh said after the game. “That seemed to give us a real good lift right away and most particularly, it probably prevented them from having any lift early in the game. That worked to our advantage in both ways.”
Groh said Tuesday that those type of trick plays usually have a shelf life of one use per season and that Byers probably couldn’t line up in that position again and successfully run a trick play.