The #13 Deacs dismantle Duke 45-7 and improve to 8-0 overall
Preview: Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) vs #13 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-0, 4-0)
Going into today's homecoming game at Wake Forest, it's a tale of 2 teams heading in opposite directions.
The Duke Blue Devils (3-4, 0-3) enter the game in search of their first conference win (in the ACC) and are coming off a bye. With a 42-0 thrashing at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers, quarterback Gunnar Holmberg (1750 passing yard/70.4% completion percentage/6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions), running back Mataeo Durant (870 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns), and the receiving efforts of Jake Bobo and Jalon Calhoun (who have a combined 1033 receiving yards) look to make their mark against a Deacon defense allowing 26.3 points per game. Likewise, defensive leaders Shaka Heyward (the middle linebacker leads the team with 59 tackles) along with defensive back Jeremiah Lewis (2 interceptions) look to slow down the Wake offense as they look to keep their bowl game aspirations (as they must win 3 of their next 5 games to be bowl eligible) alive.
However, slowing down the Deacs' offense has not quite happened at all this season.
The team is averaging 43.1 points per game and coming off a 70-56 win against Army where their offense has the ball for only 17 minutes. Quarterback Sam Hartman's stellar play (2073 passing yards/19 touchdowns and 3 interceptions), along with running back rotation leader Christian Beal-Smith (446 rushing yards/5.0 yards per carry/6 touchdowns), and wide receivers Jaquorii Roberson (672 receiving yards/5 touchdowns) and AT Perry (600 receiving yards/20.7 yards per catch/8 touchdowns) set the pace for an offense who has only committed 5 turnovers all season. The defense has forced 16 turnovers, and thanks to players including Ryan Smenda, Jr (41 tackles), defensive end Luiji Vilain (4.5 sacks), and ballhawking rover Traveon Redd (3 interceptions, including 1 returned for a touchdown) look to shut down any and all efforts by the Duke offense.
First half recap
Less than 2 minutes into the game, Wake Forest jumps out to a 7-0 lead. Sam Hartman's 38 yard touchdown pass to Jaquorii Roberson gets the offense jump-started and after Wake's defense stops Duke's 4th down attempt, Hartman scrambles for a 26 yard touchdown run with 4:03 left in the 1st quarter (14-0).
Other than all-time NCAA kicking leader Nick Sciba's first missed field goal of the season, the offense continues to add to the scoring pace. Hartman's 4 yard touchdown plunge gives Wake a 21-0 lead. In a little over 3 minutes later, Hartman connects with Ke'Shawn Williams for a 3 yard touchdown pass to give the Deacs a 28-0 halftime lead.
Second half recap
As Wake's defense contains the Duke offense (which comes in averaging 27 points per game), the offense continues to move the ball. Christian Beal-Smith's 13 yard sprint to the end zone gives Wake a 35-0 lead nearly 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter. Nick Sciba would add a field goal (38-0) and to start the 4th quarter, Hartman's touchdown pass to Taylor Morin for 19 yards gives the Deacs a 45-0 lead.
A late touchdown by Duke's Riley Leonard thwarts the Deacs' defense shutout efforts with a 2 yard run with a little over 7 minutes left in the game. This would be the Blue Devils' only score as Wake wins 45-7.
Post-game: #13 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-0, 5-0) defeat the Duke Blue Devils (3-5, 0-4) by a 45-7 score
Wake has a definitive advantage in nearly every major category.
They win the time of possession battle (36 mins to 24 mins approximately) and outgain the Blue Devils by getting nearly twice as many total yards on offense (677 to 315).
Quarterback Sam Hartman has a 400 yard passing game (24 for 37 for 402 yards and 3 passing touchdowns), along with an additional 61 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns (averaging 10-plus yards per carry). As a team, the Deacs' run for 266 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. AT Perry erupts for 116 receiving yards, and fellow receivers Jaquorii Roberson, Ke'Shawn Williams, and Taylor Morin add a touchdown apiece.
While Duke's Mataeo Durant has a 100 yard rushing game (20 carries for 103 yards), he is held out of the end zone. Wake's defense contains the Blue Devils' passing attack to a mere 155 yards, maintaining control of the game.
During the press conference, Coach Clawson notes the 4200-plus students (which is reported as an all-time record for student attendance for a home game) at the game as one of a number of keys factor in generating a solid home-field presence, assisting the team's energy and performance for the game. He credits the defense for their focus and making adjustments in only allowing 7 points (to a team averaging 27 points per game); likewise, he notes (per our interview question) the team theme of going 1-0 every week is integral to the team's success this season (along with lessons from previous seasons, including the 2019 campaign) and keeping the team's season goals intact.
Defensive end Rondell Bothroyd opens his time during the press conference noting the team defense getting back to the basics as an essential factor in their larger dominant performance (for the game). Quarterback Sam Hartman notes the team's mentality, resiliency, and playing for each other as important for the team's performance this game and the overall season to date. Wide receiver Jaquorri Roberson reinforces the 1-0 each week theme (per our interview question), along with the team's work ethic and just coming together as important attributes for the team's success in today's game (and season); linebacker Chase Jones echoes similar sentiments of the team's dedication and focus play-to-play for their performance today (and for the season).
Next week, Duke continues their search for their first conference win against Coastal Division leader Pittsburgh. The Deacs make a road trip down Tobacco Road to face the North Carolina Tar Heels in yet another important game.
Notes: All photos and video recorded by Andrew Snorton
Photo grid 1: Top row: some sights of the team running onto the field, including Dr. Beth Hopkins, riding with the Deacon to lead the team; the remaining photos are snapshots of the team on offense and defense as Wake stakes a 28-0 lead by halftime.
Photo grid 2: From the nearly sold out audience, the 1970 ACC Championship football team, the men's and women's basketball teams, to homecoming and more, today's game is a festive way to celebrate homecoming. With their 45-7 win, the football team should move up in the national ranking leading into next week's road tangle against North Carolina (which is the oldest college football rivalry in the state of North Carolina).
The video highlights include Dr Hopkins leading the team on the field, wide receiver Jaquorii Roberson's touchdown reception, and the first of 2 rushing touchdowns by Sam Hartman.