Duke 34, Wake Forest 27
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Duke finally found the formula for beating Wake Forest: come up with the kinds of plays the Demon Deacons usually use to beat the Blue Devils.They claimed their first victory over Wake Forest since 1999 with a 34-27 win on Saturday after backup quarterback Anthony Boone scored the go-ahead touchdown with 11:35 left.
"I don't know if it's a milestone I think it's a win that we felt like we needed to have happen because we just continued in this game to be in position to win it," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "You just didn't want one of those things in the end that said, `Oh, my, here we go again."'
Sean Renfree was 22 of 28 for 204 yards before leaving with an apparent right elbow injury, and Brandon Connette finished with touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards for the Blue Devils (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Tanner Price finished 19 of 38 for 230 yards with two touchdowns for the Demon Deacons (3-2, 1-2), who had four turnovers while being saddled with the kinds of game-changing mistakes that typically haunted the Blue Devils during their 12-game losing streak in the series.
"Obviously, it sucks, but we still have a lot of games ahead of us, so we're going to have to bounce back and put this one behind us," Price said.
Price's fumble inside the Wake Forest 10 set up Duke's winning drive. Two plays after Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo jarred the ball loose "the greatest feeling I've had this season," he said Boone took a bootleg 4 yards around the right side for the go-ahead touchdown.
"Everybody (on Duke's team) knows how big this is for this program," Boone said. "I can't really explain it. It's just a really good feeling right now."
Wake Forest netted 11 total yards on its next two possessions before C.J. France intercepted Price, and Jela Duncan stretched it to 34-20 with a 17-yard touchdown run with 2:50 left.
Price hit Tommy Bohanon with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds left to make it a seven-point game, but Conner Vernon sealed the win by recovering the ensuing onside kick.
Desmond Scott finished with 11 catches for 134 yards for the Blue Devils, who are off to their best start since the 1994 team started 7-0 the last time they appeared in a bowl game, the longest drought in major college football.
"Wake Forest is always going to be a close game they play us tough and we play them tough," cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "This year, we made the plays we needed to make."
Bohanon also caught a 34-yard touchdown and DeAndre Martin had a 4-yard TD run for the Demon Deacons, who trailed 20-10 in the third quarter before rallying. Price started the comeback with his long scoring pass to Bohanon. Chibuikem Okoro forced a fumble inside the Duke 10 and knocked Renfree out of the game on a cornerback blitz on the next possession.
That was exactly the sort of play that Wake Forest has regularly come up with through the years from Chip Vaughn's blocked field goal in 2006 to Chris Givens' late touchdown catch last year but the Demon Deacons couldn't fully capitalize this time.
Instead of punching it in for a touchdown, the Demon Deacons had to settle for Jimmy Newman's 28-yard tying field goal. The next time they had the ball, Price fumbled and Duke reclaimed the lead for good.
Terence Davis had six catches for 100 yards for Wake Forest, but star receiver Michael Campanaro who entered with an ACC-best 36 receptions broke his right hand in the second quarter. Coach Jim Grobe said he'll be out "for a while."
"It's never good when your top guy goes down," Price said. "It was tough when he went down, but other guys are going to have to step up and play good football for us."
Vernon tied an ACC record with his 232nd career reception with about 3 minutes left for Duke.
Connette, the Blue Devils' do-everything player, put Duke up 20-10 by powering in from 4 yards out to cap the opening drive of the second half.