Last year, a few inches made the difference as Wake Forest WR Chris Givens scored the go-ahead touchdown to beat Duke 24-23. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--The 12-game winning streak Wake Forest has going against Duke is certainly impressive for its longevity. It’s also rather remarkable when considering how close many of the recent games in the series have been. Consider the following:
*Ten of the past 16 contests have been decided by seven points or fewer
*Wake Forest has won six straight home games against the Blue Devils, with five of those six wins coming by 2, 2, 1, 3 and 6 points.
*The 2010 edition was the second-highest scoring game in ACC history, with the two teams combining for 102 points (Wake edged Duke 54-48).
*Duke scored 23 unanswered points in last year’s contest—but Wake Forest still hung on for the 24-23 win. That was the first one-point victory in Demon Deacons history since—wait for it—a 14-13 win over Duke in 2006
“I don’t know how there is a streak going on because we’ve had so many games that have literally just been an interception in overtime or a blocked field goal, a roughing the punter one year (2009) that gave us an extra series, just crazy stuff,” Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. “There’s been some really close, hard fought games.”
The 2011 and 2006 games are two of many that have, essentially, swung on one huge play.
It’s hard to believe that Wake Forest’s Cinderella, 2006 ACC championship season could have been derailed in the second game of the year if Chip Vaughn hadn’t blocked Joe Surgan's 27-yard field goal attempt on the game’s final play.
“He blocked it with his elbow,” Grobe said. “Really, he wasn’t even designed to be the blocker.”
In 2008, a 33-30 overtime victory for the Demon Deacons, Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis put a little too much air under his pass intended for Eron Riley, and Wake Forest’s Alphonso Smith pulled in the interception near the goal line to end the game.
“We blew that coverage,” Grobe said. “Alphonso was back there with two receivers, didn’t know what to do and said, ‘well, I’ll split the difference. The ball just hung long enough for him to get there, and a great player makes a great play.”
And last year, on the first play after Duke had taken a 23-17 lead (and outgained the Demon Deacons 119-1 in the third quarter), Chris Givens took a short pass 66 yards for the go-ahead score, beating Duke’s Zach Greene and tight-roping the left sideline. That touchdown proved to be the difference.
Saturday’s game looks like it could end up as another close game, with Wake Forest currently sitting as a 3-point favorite.
“Streaks are never fun to be on the bad end,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “That should motivate most people naturally. But to do something about it, you have to play well currently. We can’t do something about the previous 12.”