Led by quarterback Anthony Boone, Duke overcame another slow start to get by Wake Forest, 28-21.
After an Isaac Blankeney fumble was returned 59 yards for a touchdown and Tanner Price led a 10-play, 47-yard TD drive, the Blue Devils were left with an ugly, 14-0 deficit. They were in desperate need of a quick bounce-back effort on both sides of the ball and, as they have so many times this year, they responded.
Led by a new and improved Anthony Boone, Duke raced down the field for 43 yards in 5 plays, capped off by a ten-yard TD pass from Boone to Jamison Crowder.
Not one to be outdone by the offense, the defense responded as well, harassing Price and the rest of the Wake Forest offense and forcing a quick three-and-out in the process.
With the opportunity to tie the game up, Boone didn’t disappoint. The quarterback led another quick and precise drive, going 69 yards in 10 plays and finishing it off with a beautiful fade to WR Max McCaffrey.
Considering Duke has been a strong second half team and that the momentum seemed to lie entirely with them, it appeared they were ready to run away with the game in the second half, but Wake Forest would respond.
Led by clutch plays from seniors Price and RB Josh D. Harris, they managed to find their way into the Duke red zone in a hurry. It was here where Price would give his team the lead back, carrying it in nearly untouched from 12 yards out to put Wake Forest ahead 21-14 at the 10:52 mark in the 3rd quarter.
The lead would last for less than a minute, though, as Boone would find Crowder for a 58 yard touchdown, taking advantage of a newly-entered Allen Ramsey.
Six minutes later, Duke would finally take the lead on Brandon Connette‘s only touchdown of the day: a tough run from three-yards out to lift them ahead, 28-21.
The defense would take over from there.
As Wake Forest made their way into Duke territory halfway into the fourth quarter, Sydney Sarmiento crushed Harris to force a crucial fumble, with Kelby Brown recovering it at the Blue Devil 46-yard line.
In the Demon Deacons’ final chance, redshirt senior Ross Cockrell picked off Price to clinch the victory.
Boone finished with 256 yards and 3 touchdowns on 24-29 passing, finally bouncing back after three consecutive poor outings. Jamison Crowder totaled 121 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 catches; he was the only player amongst both teams with more than four catches on the day.
Duke (9-2, 5-2) will take on North Carolina next week in arguably the most anticipated game in Duke football history, with both the rivalry and a spot in the ACC Championship game on the line. Wake Forest (4-7, 2-6) was officially eliminated from bowl eligibility with the loss. They’ll travel to Vanderbilt next Saturday.