by Mike Potter
WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM Duke is home for the second game in its three-week “homestand,” and faces a must-win situation today.
But the opponent is unlikely nemesis Wake Forest (4-2, 3-1), which has beaten the Blue Devils a ridiculous 11 straight times. The Deacons come into the contest as 3½-point favorites.
Duke really, really needs a win, because the stated goal is to play in a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Get to six wins and the Blue Devils will go bowling, but of the remaining five games only in the road game at Virginia will they likely be less than two-touchdown underdogs again.
Today the Blue Devils will play in black jerseys.
And that mourning color turns out to be appropriate as Wake wins 24-23, defeating the Blue Devils in a one-possession game for the fifth time in the past six years.
The Deacons get the early momentum, going 80 yards in seven plays on their first drive leading to Tanner Price’s 26-yard pass to Chris Givens. Jimmy Newman’s boot makes it 7-0 with 4:37 left in the quarter.
Wake makes it 10-0 on Newman’s 38-yard field goal, which completes an 11-play, 49-yard drive with 13:23 left in the half.
And it goes to 17-0 with 4:01 left in the half on Brandon Pendergrass’ 2-yard run to finish a 12-play, 86-yard march.
Duke finally gets on the board with four seconds left in the half on a 26-yard Will Snyderwine field goal.
Snyderwine nails another one, this time from 38, to make it 17-6 with 9:40 left in the quarter.
And now it gets interesting. Duke cuts it to 17-13 with 2:16 left in the third when backup quarterback and redshirt freshman Anthony Boone goes around left end from a yard out to complete a 15-play, 66-yard drive with Snyderwine converting.
Boone puts the Blue Devils ahead with 11:35 left, when he goes in from two yards out to complete the nine-play, 51-yard march with Snyderwine’s boot making it 20-17.
Snyderwine adds a 19-yarder with 7:14 left to cap off a nine-play, 62-yard drive and make it 23-17.
But Wake strikes back with lightning with 6:52 remaining, as Price connects with Givens for a 66-yard sprint down the right sideline with Newman converting.
Price completes 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards and the two TDs, while Givens catches six for 147. Pendergrass rushes 15 times for 43 yards.
Renfree completes 28 of 45 for 213 yards with an interception, with Conner Vernon catching seven for 59. Juwan Thompson carries 11 times for 62 yards, while Boone totes 11 for 19 with the two TDs and completes one of two passes for 11.
They said it …
Cutcliffe: “I was really proud of our players’ effort in the second half, playing team football in all phases. … We couldn’t overcome one of the worst halves we’ve played since I’ve been here in a lot of areas. But the bottom line on that is I got outcoached badly and really did a very poor job. Every area of a head coach’s responsibility was displayed poorly in the first half and I told our team that.”
Wake coach Jim Grobe: “That’s really a game where nobody deserved to lose. David is doing a great job. … I’m sure at one point (the Blue Devils) thought they had gotten it, and Chris Givens made a big play. I thought our kids played their hearts out, hung in there and made a play when they had to. It’s not good for my blood pressure today, but it’s good to get a win.”
Boone: “I just got behind my pads and linemen and kept pushing and kept my feet moving. I haven’t developed myself as a vocal leader on the field or in the locker room yet. I’m just going to go out there and keep grinding in practice. I’m going to keep showing a lot of energy and hope that will be an example for everyone else.”
Vernon: “It’s a really disappointing loss. It’s just something we let get away from us today. (But) it’s time to go back to work tomorrow. Now the guys know how big this rivalry is getting and what it is now.”
What does it all mean?
That the Deacons remain on track for a bowl spot, while the Blue Devils need a miracle.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Price’s game-winning touchdown pass to Givens.
Duke leads 53-37-2.
Duke: Lost 2.
Wake: Won 1.
Duke vs. Virginia Tech, Oct. 29, 12:30 p.m.
Wake at UNC, Oct. 29, 3:30.