Comeback Falls Short, Deacons Lose to Duke 34-27
Sept. 29, 2012
By Rob Daniels, WakeForestSports.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Earlier in the week, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe admitted that fortune had played a considerable role in the Demon Deacons' 12-game winning streak over Duke. On Saturday, the Deacs' luck ran out.
Actually, it sprinted out of town.
Wake Forest lost a game and its most versatile offensive weapon, wide receiver Michael Campanaro, on a day when the Blue Devils converted two fourth-quarter turnovers into touchdowns and earned a 34-27 win at BB&T Field. Duke overcame its own injury issue when backup quarterback Anthony Boone, subbing for starter Sean Renfree, guided TD drives immediately after the takeaways to break free from a 20-20 tie.
Campanaro, who accounted for more than half of his team's receptions in the season's first four games, was knocked out of the game after sustaining a broken right hand. While acknowledging the impact of the injury, Grobe said the better team won Saturday.
"Certainly Mike is big for our football team, but I didn't think that was the key," he said. "I just have to give credit to Duke."
Truth be told, the Devils were due. Five of the previous six games in the series had been decided by six or fewer points. Included in that run were the famous 2006 contest, in which the Deacons blocked a field goal at the gun to preserve a 14-13 victory that became the starting point of their run to the ACC championship.
On Saturday, however, the Devils went 10-for-17 on third down, converting plays requiring 17 and 19 yards en route to TD drives. They controlled much of the game, but things may have turned for good shortly after Wake appeared poised to seize it.
The Deacs closed to 20-17 by going on a 98-yard TD drive, the third-longest in school history, late in the third quarter. Tanner Price's throw in between two defenders to fullback Tommy Bohanon capped it off.
On Duke's next play, cornerback Chibuikem Okoro broke free on a blitz and hit Renfree just as the Devils' QB's arm was moving forward. The ball popped free and defensive end Zach Thompson snagged it at the Duke 20.
"When you have a momentum change like that and great field position, you have to capitalize and get seven," Price said.
Over the previous dozen years, the Deacs might have gotten that TD and in short order. Not this time. The effort stalled and Jimmy Newman's game-tying field goal, while good enough to forge a tie, left the Deacons frustrated.
Shortly thereafter, the Devils got to Price as he was stepping forward in the pocket, and they recovered the resulting fumble at the Deacon 8. Boone rolled around the right end for the touchdown two plays later.
One of the Deacons' several dropped passes became especially costly when Duke intercepted a tipped ball with 5:59 left and went on a time-consuming, game-clinching drive that featured a pair of third-down conversions. Jela Duncan's blitz-beating, 17-yard run up the middle made it 34-20.
Boone finished 8-of-11 for 54 yards in relief.
"Defensively, we didn't execute," Wake cornerback Kevin Johnson said. "We had opportunities to pin them back, but we missed assignments."
The Deacons (3-2, 1-2 ACC), who played four of their first five games at home, now face the meat of their schedule. Four of the next six are on the road.
"You can't place blame," Thompson said, "because you'll fall apart."
Scoring Drive Recaps
Duke 3, Wake Forest 0 (3:07, 1st Quarter)
Wake Forest 7, Duke 3 (5:12, 1st Quarter)
Duke 10, Wake Forest 7, Duke 3 (5:02, 1st Quarter)
Duke 13, Wake Forest 7 (10:20, 2nd Quarter)
Duke 13, Wake Forest 10 (3:31, 2nd quarter)
Duke 20, Wake Forest 10 (5:48, 3rd quarter)
Duke 20, Wake Forest 17 (3:47, 3rd quarter)
Duke 20, Wake Forest 20 (1:55, 3rd quarter)
Duke 27, Wake Forest 20 (11:35,4th quarter)
Duke 34, Wake Forest 20 (2:50, 4th quarter)
Duke 34, Wake Forest 27 (0:42, 4th quarter)
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