Top Wake Forest-Duke football battles over the past 12 years

Bob Hebert

Wake Forest enters this weekend's tilt against Duke with a 12-game winning streak against the Devils. Many of these games have been closely contested, so we at BSD decided to take a look at the top games during the current streak.

When Duke rolls into Winston-Salem this weekend for a 12:30 battle at BB&T, they will be looking to reverse a bit of history which they would rather not think about. Despite holding a 53-37-2 historical advantage in the matchup, the Blue Devils have fallen on hard times recently losing the previous twelve games. Yes, for those of you who did not know about this, Wake Forest (the football team) has managed to beat an opponent TWELVE times in a row. The streak has been a perfect storm of Wake's best period of years in school history, Duke's utter ineptitude, and lady luck seemingly holding Wake in her good graces.

During the streak Wake has by no means been utterly dominant. The Deacs have certainly had their fair share of blowouts over Duke, who during this time has had a 20+ game losing streak as well as multiple winless conference seasons. In 2005, a Deacon team entered Wallace Wade with a 3-5 record and drubbed Duke 44-6. The game was the fourth of five in a row that year which Duke would lose by 25+ points and the Devils finished the year at 1-10, the lone win over FCS opponent VMI. Likewise the Deacs beat the Devils in 2002 and 2003 by 26 and 29 points respectively, totally embarrassing Duke.

For the most part though, the winning streak has been a representative sample of Duke's recent football struggles: the ability to hang tough against an opponent, but an inability to flip the switch on and win the game. Of the twelve games, eight have been won by seven points or less. These close games have been more evident over the past six years in which every single matchup has been decided by eleven points or less, including four by five points or less.

So without further ado, let's take a look at the top five games of the series during Wake's twelve-game current winning streak. Duke fans may want to stop reading at this point though as they are not only tough losses, but in 4 of these 5 seasons the Devils lost out after losing to the Deacs.

5. (2001) Wake Forest 42, Duke 35 (Wallace Wade)

Duke entered this game 0-5 on the season, and nursing a 17-game losing streak overall. The Deacons entered 2-3 but had a three-game losing streak. Behind a great two-headed rushing attack from Tarence Williams and Fred Staton, the Deacs vaulted out to a 28-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Duke managed to cut into this gap though, scoring three touchdowns in the final 5 minutes of the third quarter and tied the game up at 35 in the 4th quarter. Quarterback D. Bryant tacked on four touchdowns to lead the furious charge.

Even though the Deacons were up against the ropes, Duke's inability to stop Wake's rush attack proved to be fatal as the Deacs pieced together a 67-yard drive finished off by a Staton touchdown dive with just over 7 minutes left. The Deacons were able to quell Duke's final attacks and won by a final score of 42-35. Williams and Staton both chipped in two touchdowns a piece and combined for 220 yards on 43 attempts.

Wake would go on to finish the season 5-7 while Duke would go 0-11.

4. (2010) Wake Forest 54, Duke 48 (BB&T Field)

The score pretty much sums up this battle from 2010. The Deacs and Devils combined for 987 yards of total offense and 102 points, the second most in ACC football history. Wake got the scoring started with Ted Stachitis scampering in from 23 yards out less than four minutes into the game. Duke responded with two touchdowns to end the first quarter up 14-7. The second quarter was one of the most bizarre quarters you will ever see as the Deacons outscored the Devils 28-21 to go to the half tied at 35 points a piece. In this stretch Marshall Williams hooked up with Givens on a wide receiver pass for an 81 yard score and "back-up" Tanner Price connected on a pass to Marshall two minutes later to put the Deacons ahead.

The second half saw scoring slow slightly, but the Deacon offense was able to outpace the Devils 19-13 to snag a 54-48 win. This game saw freshman Tanner Price throw for three touchdowns and claim the starting position moving forward. Neither team fared particularly well the rest of the season. After this game the Deacons embarked upon a nine game losing streak, which was snapped in the season finale against Vanderbilt. Duke also finished 3-9 but managed to avoid finishing last in the conference by defeating Virginia and tying with them in the standings (a major victory for Duke as far as I'm concerned).

This game was not a particularly well-played game as both defenses were non-existent, but it was an incredibly exciting game and provided insight to Price's prowess at quarterback. Price has yet to relinquish the starting position and will take the field against Duke on Saturday as an experienced junior.

3. (2011) Wake Forest 24, Duke 23 (Wallace Wade)

Wake and Duke played yet another close game when they met the next year at Wallace Wade. Wake entered this one with a 4-2 record looking to get within one game of bowl eligibility while Duke entered 3-3. Wake got off to yet another quick start in the first half, darting out to a 17-0 lead before Duke kicked a field goal right before the half. The Wake Forest offense was clicking on all cylinders going into the locker room and there was no reason to believe that the second half would be any different.

When the teams returned to start the final half of play though, the Duke defense brought it and stopped the Deacs on the first three possessions. The Devil offense capitalized off these opportunities and scored on four straight possessions to give Duke a 23-17 when Wake took the field with 7 minutes left in the game. Prior to this possession receiver Chris Givens already had a touchdown catch, but had found some trouble seeking space on the field. And that's when this happened, showing the speed and athleticism that got Givens drafted by the Rams:


Jimmy Newman tacked on the extra point giving Wake the lead. Duke was able to get down to Wake's 41 yard line but turned the ball over on downs and Wake finished the Devils off to give Wake their 12th straight win in the series. Givens finished the game with six catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Wake would go on to the Music City Bowl and finish the year 6-7 while Duke would lose out and finish 3-9.

2. (2008) Wake Forest 33, Duke 30 OT (BB&T Field)

This game features one of the most iconic moments of the Grobe era at Wake Forest in overtime, but we'll get to that. Both teams entered the game with a 4-3 record, and pitted what was probably the best Duke team since 1994 against one of the better Wake Forest football teams of all-time. Wake struck first to go up 7-0 on a Skinner sneak from the one-yard line, but Duke answered right back four minutes later with a two-yard pass to Donovan Varner. Cornerback Alphonso Smith blocked a punt and the Deacs added a field goal right before the half to give Wake a 12-7 lead going into the second half.

Both offenses struggled on the first possession of the second half as Wake fumbled, and Alphonso Smith picked off a pass on Duke's very next play. Wake then drove down and punched it in from the two to give Wake a 19-7 lead. Duke scored a touchdown on a 33-yard strike from Thaddeus Lewis, got a stop on defense, and then took the lead 20-19 (missed two-point conversion). Wake answered with a 44 yard field goal from Shane Popham and entered the final quarter of play 22-20.

Following a 52 yard pass downfield, Duke settled for a field goal with 12 minutes left to take a one point lead. Wake responded one more time with a Skinner strike to DJ Boldin and following a successful conversion, went up 30-23 with 10 minutes left. The very next possession Duke tied the game up on a 20 yard pass from Lewis and tacked on the extra point. Duke got the ball back and drove down to the Wake 25 as time was expiring, but missed a 42-yarder to win it for the Devils.

Wake got the ball first in overtime and had to settle for a 28-yard field goal meaning Duke would have the ball with the chance to score a touchdown and win it. On the second play of overtime, Lewis dropped back right in front of the Wake student section and surveyed the field. He clutched once towards the middle of the field before seeing space on the right side of the end zone where receiver Eron Riley stood seemingly wide open. Lewis targeted the ball towards Riley, but put slightly too much air under it. Any Wake fan knows what happened next:

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Photos courtesy of Bob Hebert

Alphonso Smith jumped the route on a perfectly timed jump to intercept the ball and end the game for the Deacs. Smith ended the game with two interceptions and a blocked punt. Wake ended up going 8-5 on the season including a win over Navy in D.C. at the Eagle Bank Bowl. Duke would go on and lose out to go 4-8 (1-7) in the ACC and never really recover from the loss.

1. (2006) Wake Forest 14, Duke 13 (BB&T Field)

There was absolutely no question which game of the winning streak would be the number one game was there? This game in 2006 was actually not a good game at all. Wake limped into the game 1-0 following a win over Syracuse in the season opener, but without quarterback Ben Mauk who was lost for the season with a broken arm/injured shoulder. With Mauk out the Deacs would have to rely on third-string freshman quarterback Riley Skinner who was dressed in his first college football game. He was the backup due to an injury to Brett Hodges, which had him miss the season opener. When Mauk went down, Skinner came on and played a clock management game enabling Wake to beat the Orange 20-10.

Duke entered the game coming off a 13-0 opening loss at home to FCS Richmond and would not win a game the entire season. This ended up being one of the worst teams in ACC history as they were outscored 100-13 in their first four games. None of this mattered though as Wake struggled to get going and Duke took a 10-0 lead into the half behind a field goal in the first quarter and a touchdown in the second. In the third quarter Skinner connected with John Tereshinski to bring the Deacs within a 10-7 deficit, but following another Duke field goal Wake was down 13-7 with 3 minutes left in the game. Skinner lead the Deacs down the field and running back Micah Andrews punched in a two-yard touchdown to give Wake their first lead of the day at 14-13.

Duke had one last drive in them though and made it down to the Wake Forest 11 yard line to attempt a game-winning 28 yard chip shot as time expired. The snap was a little low but the hold stabilized the ball enough to for kicker Joe Surgan to get the ball off in time. If most Wake fans knew what happened when Phonso picked the ball off in 2008, EVERY Wake fan knows what happened on this Surgan kick: the ball came off slightly low and Chip Vaughn came flying in from the back of the block formation to stick his hand up and block the Surgan kick. With the miss Wake finished off the game with a 14-13 win and make it to 2-0 on the season.

Wake would go on to finish the season 11-3, win the ACC, and fall to Louisville in the 2007 Orange Bowl 24-13 to finish the season ranked 17th in the country. This finish was Wake's best in program history. Without Vaughn elevating to block Surgan's kick in the second game of the year, it is highly doubtful that the Deacs would have experienced the same success in the 2006 season: the most memorable season in Wake history.

So when Wake kicks off on Saturday at home with a 3-1 record against a 3-1 Duke team looking to get to 4-1 for only the second time since 1994, it would behoove every Deacon fan who can be there to see if Wake can extend their winning streak over the Devils to 13 games. Hey, if history if an indicator this will be one hell of a football game.

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