DURHAM — The quickest way to lose a football game to Wake Forest these days is to fail to stop the Texas two-step - wide-out Chris Givens of Wylie, Tex., and quarterback Tanner Price, of Austin.
Duke failed Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium and probably lost any lingering hope of a bowl appearance in David Cutcliffe's fourth season.
Wake escaped, 24-23, when Givens turned a routine out pass from Price into a 66-yard touchdown sprint with 6 minutes, 52 seconds left.
In a matter of seconds, the Blue Devils (3-4 overall, 1-2 ACC) let an impressive second-half comeback go for naught.
Wake (5-2, 4-1) now goes to North Carolina (5-3, 1-3) next Saturday with an opportunity to become bowl eligible and extend an unlikely bid to reach the league championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 3.
Dejected Duke nose guard Charlie Hatcher said "no one single player" decided the game. That's probably true, but only in the most general sense.
On two plays, the sophomore Price and red-shirt junior Givens, accounted for half of Wake's points and 92 of the team's 215 yards passing. The two connected on a 26-yard pass to start the scoring with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
Otherwise, the Duke defense did an admirable job of containing both players. By doing so, the Blue Devils were able to wipe out a 17-3 halftime deficit and take a 23-17 lead with less than eight minutes.
But the formula for beating the Deacons is hardly a military secret. If Givens finds room to operate on the edges, opposing defensive backs usually get burned.
"It's frustrating to see him make that [fourth-quarter] play, but that's what makes him such a good receiver," said Duke wide-out Donovan Varner.
"Our defense was great in the second half today, too. Givens was just able to make the play."
Cutcliffe said his defensive backs were "a little afraid of Givens and gave him too much of a cushion" but went to great lengths to accept blame for the loss.
"I got outcoached badly and really did a poor job," Cutcliffe said. "I told our team that."
But lots of teams, coaches and players have been hurt by Givens.
In a season when the ACC is unusually long on standout receivers, Givens is right there with the best in the league. He now has 47 receptions for 886 yards and eight touchdowns.
Clemson freshman Sammy Watkins is the surprise player of the season thus far and rightfully so. But Givens, with the feeds from Price, isn't far behind.