WINSTON-SALEM — The conditions Saturday night were far from perfect for Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba to set an NCAA record while booting four field goals.
But Sciba said he paid no attention to cool, rainy weather or the prospect of setting the NCAA record for consecutive made field goals in Wake Forest’s 39-27 victory over visiting Duke.
The sophomore improved his streak to 32 with field goals of 38, 34, 44 and 25 yards — breaking the former record with the 44-yarder in the third quarter — as the Demon Deacons (8-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak.
Sciba hasn’t missed a kick, and he’s made all 91 career extra-point attempts, in Wake’s last 20 games.
The Blue Devils (4-7, 2-5) dropped their fifth straight game despite Damond Philyaw-Johnson’s two kickoff return touchdowns.
“I definitely don’t want to kick in the rain,” Sciba said when asked about his preference in weather. I can’t let the conditions or even the record get into my head.”
“It’s great for him (Sciba),” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “You keep going to the well, and he keeps getting it done.”
Chuck Nelson of Washington had held the record with 30 in the 1981-82 seasons.
The Demon Deacons trailed in the final quarter despite amassing a 610-290 advantage over the Blue Devils in total offensive yardage. Wake Forest rushed for 334 yards.
Kenneth Walker III scored on a 14-yard run with 8:24 remaining to put the Deacons ahead for good after Philyaw-Johnson’s 98-yard kickoff return had put the Blue Devils ahead 27-26.
Wake Forest put the game away on Cade Carney’s 18-yard TD run with 3:27 left.
Johnson answered the first Sciba field goal, a 38-yarder, with a 97-yard kickoff return to give Duke its first lead at 7-3.
Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman completed 14 of 25 passes for 284 yards, including a 62-yard TD pass to Kendall Hinton. Newman also rushed for a career-high 144 yards, including a 42-yard scoring run, on 29 carries. Walker added 113 yards on 17 carries.
“We made a concerted effort to run the football,” Clawson said. “That opened things up for us in the passing game where Kendall Hinton made plays for us in a big way.”
Quentin Harris completed 14 of 23 passes for 163 yards, including a 23-yard TD pass to Noah Gray for the only TD scored by the Duke offense.
“Obviously, our kickoff coverage is atrocious,” said Clawson, who ordered a short kickoff away from Philyaw-Johnson after Wake’s final TD. “If we could just cover kicks, it wouldn’t have been a close game.”
Philyaw-Johnson, inserted as the Duke kick returner in the past few games, ran through a seam near the right sideline on his first TD. He started right then crossed in the middle and back to the right on the second.
“There’s always something positive you can take away from a game,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “Those returns were no accident. Damond is fast, and he’s fearless.”
The Deacons led 13-10 at halftime and extended the lead to 20-10 thanks to Newman’s 62-yard pass to Hinton on the opening series of the second half.
AJ Reed kicked field goals of 30 and 43 yards for the Devils.
Duke: The Blue Devils entered the game averaging only 11 points during their four-game losing streak, scored more than 17 points for the first time since a 41-23 victory over Georgia Tech on Oct. 12. Though held to only one first down in the first 29 minutes, the Devils’ offense showed some life in the second half with 10 first downs and a 65-yard TD drive to open the fourth quarter.
Wake Forest: The Deacons’ offense struggled at the start on a rainy night, but it picked up the pace when the rain slowed in a drier second half. With a victory against last-place Syracuse on Saturday, the Deacons would tie Louisville for second place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Their kicking teams have some work to do, though. In addition to Philyaw-Johnson’s TDs, the Deacons gave up a 21-yard punt return that set up Duke for its first-half field goal.
Duke: Defensive end Victor Dimukeje had two sacks, giving him 8.5 for the season, the fifth-best season total in school history. … Philyaw-Johnson wasn’t the Devils’ only special teams’ weapon. Reed made his only two field goal attempts and Austin Parker averaged 50.2 yards on five punts.
Wake Forest: Hinton had 189 yards on six receptions. … The Deacons rushed for 355 yards – all but six from Newman, Walker and Carney. … They ran 91 plays compared to 54 for Duke. … Defensive end Carlos Basham Jr. had 2.5 sacks.
After a rainy first half filled with dropped passes, fumbled snaps and other mishaps, the teams settled down in a dry second half. Wake amassed 371 of its 610 yards in the second half. … Duke picked up 175 of its 290 in the second half. … The teams scored 43 of their combined 66 points in the final 30 minutes.
Duke: Plays host on Saturday in its regular-season finale to Miami, which lost to Florida International.
Wake Forest: Plays at Syracuse in its regular-season finale on Saturday.