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Throwback Thursday: 2006 Wake Forest 14 - Duke 13

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A look back ten years at one of the bigger blocked kicks in Wake Forest history.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

On Saturday Wake Forest will head to Durham to take on the Duke Blue Devils. Both teams currently sit at 1-0, although they got there in very different ways. Duke defeated North Carolina Central 49-6, leaving no doubt in its season opener, while Wake Forest struggled immensely on offense, finally holding off Tulane 7-3.

Tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of the 2006 Wake Forest-Duke football game. A game that, at the time, was seemingly irrelevant except for the fact that it may help the Deacs make a bowl game after three straight years of near misses. It would also snap a 9 game losing streak for the Blue Devils (one that would eventually stretch to 22 games before defeating Northwestern the following season).

As we reflect back on that game, almost any Wake Forest fan will tell you that it was in fact a HUGE game in hindsight, as it propelled the Deacs to 2-0 for the first time since 2003, paving the way to its first ACC Championship since 1970.

The week before, Duke got shut out by the No. 15 ranked (in what was then known as Division 1-AA Richmond) Richmond Spiders 13-0. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same, right Virginia?

Meanwhile, Wake Forest got a nice win in Winston-Salem over Syracuse 20-10, but lost starting quarterback Ben Mauk for the season with broken right arm and dislocated shoulder (after the game, Coach Jim Grobe called it "the most courageous thing I have seen out of a quarterback, ever").

Not only had the 2006 season started off on different feet for the two teams, Wake Forest had won three out of the last four games against Duke by 26 points or more, including a 44-6 beatdown in Durham (the worst loss ever sustained by Duke to Wake Forest) in 2005, where the Deacs ran for 419 yards.

There were several memorable moments in the 2006 version of the game, culminating in Wake Forest's Chip Vaughn blocking a 28 yard field goal by Duke's placekicker Joe Surgan to send the Deacs to a 14-13 win, as well as setting off a raucous on-field celebration.

What a lot of people may not acutely remember is that the Deacs trailed almost the entire game, including 10-0 at the halftime to the lowly Blue Devils. Were it not for a COMEDY of errors that Duke committed earlier in the game including: fumbling the ball into the end zone on the 1 yard line, a missed 27 yard field goal earlier in the game, and two penalties to negate turnovers; Wake Forest would have never had the chance to win the game.

With the absence of Ben Mauk, Wake Forest was forced to turn to its backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Riley Skinner, making his first career start for the Demon Deacons. Despite the running game being a strong suit for much of the 2006 season, Wake Forest struggled immensely on the ground on this day, gaining just 57 yards on 24 carries, providing little assistance to the young Skinner.

Duke took a 10-0 lead at the halftime after a first quarter field goal and a 48 yard late second quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Thaddeus Lewis (who was seemingly at Duke for 12 years) to wide receiver Jomar Wright.

The Deacs fought back early in the 3rd, bringing the game to 10-7 after a 9 play, 72 yard drive, resulting in a 5 yard touchdown pass from Skinner to tight end John Tereshinski.

The Blue Devils went up 13-7 after a 39 yard field goal by Surgan with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter. Despite kicking the ensuing kickoff out-of-bounds, Wake Forest's Sam Swank failed to convert a 38 yard field goal to bring the game within three points early in the fourth quarter.

After two punts by Duke, with a Wake punt of its own in-between, Riley Skinner got the ball with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter, needing 63 yards to put the Deacs in the lead. The first down play resulted in an incomplete pass to Tereshinski, but Skinner quickly converted with running back Micah Andrews for a 22 yard gain into Duke territory.

Things snowballed quickly there for the Duke defense, as after two short gains of 3 yards, Skinner connected with tight end Zac Selmon for 21 yards down to the Duke 14 yard line. After a Duke timeout, Skinner hit wide receiver (legend) Nate Morton with a 12 yard pass to get down to the Blue Devils 2 yard line.

Another timeout (presumably to save time at this point) by the Blue Devils once again proved useless, as a handoff to Andrews resulted in a two yard score for the Deacs. 7 plays, 63 yards in total for Skinner and the Deacs to grab a 14-13 lead.

In many games this would be the closing scene, but it was more the opening act, as the Wake Forest defense committed two defensive pass interference penalties on back to back plays to get the Blue Devils into their territory.

A 20 yard pass from Thaddeus Lewis to wide receiver Jomar Wright got Duke down to the Wake 10 yard line, before a Lewis knee to center the ball brought it back a yard.

Unfortunately for Duke fans, there was one more act of futility that would cost them the game as Joe Surgan kicked a low lining 28 harder directly into the arm of Wake Forest's Chip Vaughn that bounced on the turf as time expired, giving the Deacs the 14-13 win.

It is hard to overstate what the blocked kick meant for Wake Forest, who would eventually move to 5-0 before a similarly ill-timed blocked kick, this time by the late Gaines Adams switched the momentum in Clemson's favor to knock the Deacs from the rank of the undefeated.

A four game winning streak would follow the Clemson loss, including back-to-back road wins over in-state rivals N.C. State and North Carolina. The two following games are two of the biggest in Wake Forest history, a 21-14 prime-time win over No. 16 ranked Boston College, and a 30-0 win in Tallahassee, marking the first home shutout of Bobby Bowden's storied career.

From there everybody knows what happened, as the Deacs tripped up to Virginia Tech at home before defeating Maryland on the road to win the Atlantic Division and its first ACC Championship Game. After defeating Georgia Tech in one of the ugliest most beautiful games I've ever seen, 9-6, Wake Forest won its first ACC Championship since 1970.

The season ended 24-13 in a loss to Louisville in the Orange Bowl, where it's widely accepted as the largest gathering of Wake Forest alums ever. The 2006 team finished 11-3, with its best record in team history.

This Throwback Thursday is important for a few reasons:

The first is to commemorate a 10 year anniversary of one of the more bizarre games in Wake Forest history.

The second is to get everybody excited for the Duke game on Saturday by reflecting on better times of ten year's past.

The final reason is to point out that even though a season may not look promising (second string quarterback, and a blocked kick over a team that would finish 0-12), a win is a win, and could lead to something completely unexpected.

With that being said, get out to Durham if you can on Saturday, support Wake Forest, and hopefully the Deacs will once again move to 2-0 at the expense of the Duke Blue Devils, and perhaps bigger and better things this season!