Key plays in the Duke-Wake Forest game

bkiser@charlotteobserver.comNovember 23, 2013 

Five key plays from Saturday’s Duke-Wake Forest game:

1. Hot Potato

•  Score: No score.

•  Situation: Duke ball, third-and-4 at Wake Forest’s 44.

• The play: Blue Devils QB Anthony Boone hit WR Issac Blakeney on a short pass, but he fumbled after getting hit by Demon Deacons CB Kevin Johnson. Wake Forest SS Thomas Brown picked up the loose ball and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown.

• Why it mattered: The score gave Wake Forest – which had lost three straight entering Saturday’s game – a much-needed boost of confidence and put the game’s early momentum squarely on the Demon Deacons’ side.

2. Duke targets inexperience

•  Score: Wake Forest 21, Duke 14.

•  Situation: Duke ball, first-and-10 at its 38.

• The play: Boone threw a sideline pass to Crowder, who battled forward for 4 yards. But Demon Deacons CB Merrill Noel went out with an injured ankle; his replacement, Allen Ramsey II, got torched on the next play – a 58-yard play-action pass to Crowder – to tie the game at 21-21.

• Why it mattered: The touchdown not only helped the Blue Devils keep pace with Wake Forest, but Noel’s absence the rest of the game weakened a Demon Deacons secondary that was already being picked apart by Boone.

3. Duke’s Boone gets it done

•  Score: Duke 21, Wake Forest 21.

•  Situation: Duke ball, second-and-10 at the Wake Forest 23.

• The play: Boone had completed 14 consecutive passes before overthrowing Crowder in the end zone on first down. But Boone kept the ball on the next play, dashing up the middle, then cutting towards the sideline before getting forced out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

• Why it mattered: Boone’s keeper set up a 3-yard keeper by Brandon Connette two plays later to put the Blue Devils ahead 28-21.

4. Wake Forest goes backward

•  Score: Duke 28, Wake Forest 21.

•  Situation: Wake Forest ball, second-and-10 at the Duke 23.

• The plays: The Demon Deacons drove to within field goal – and possible game-tying TD – range early in the fourth quarter. But Wake Forest got pushed back on its next three plays – first by a 5-yard false-start penalty, then back-to-back sacks (of 7 and 13 yards) by DE Kenny Anunike, forcing Wake Forest to punt.

• Why it mattered: The defensive stops blunted the Demon Deacons’ momentum at a point where Saturday’s game was still very much in doubt.

5. Wake Forest miscue kills late drive

•  Score: Duke 28, Wake Forest 21.

•  Situation: Wake Forest ball, second-and-16 at its 35.

• The play: After a holding call pushed Wake Forest back 10 yards, Tanner tried a pass over the middle to Ragland. But Ragland pulled up short on the route, allowing Blue Devils CB Ross Cockrell to step in front for an interception.

• Why it mattered: Cockrell’s pick ended Wake Forest’s last shot at a game-tying score.

Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: BKiser_CLTObs.

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