Wake tops Duke on night of record-setting special teams play

Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman, right, breaks free from Duke safety Dylan Singleton (16) for a 42-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

On a night of record-setting special teams, Wake Forest had a dominant offensive performance to all but end Duke’s postseason hopes on Saturday night.

The Demon Deacons beat Duke, 39-27, dropping the Blue Devils to 4-7 with their fifth straight loss. Unless there aren’t enough bowl-eligible teams—heading into the final week of the regular season, the bowls are still five-teams short—Duke will miss out on the postseason for the first time in three years.

Kicker Nick Sciba connected on four field goals in the game, extending his streak of made field goals to 33—a new NCAA record. His accuracy helped keep the Deacons ahead of the Blue Devils in what turned into a wild game.

Duke’s offense continued to struggle, as it has for much of the second half of the season. The Blue Devils rushed for negative yards in the first quarter, then fumbled on their first run of the second quarter, losing the ball to the Deacs.

The Blue Devils were able to take the lead in the waning seconds of the first quarter, however, when Damond Philyaw-Johnson returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. It was Duke’s first lead since Oct. 26, against UNC, when the Blue Devils held a lead late into the third quarter, more than 158 minutes of football earlier.

Philyaw-Johnson added a 98-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter, again putting Duke on top. He became the first Blue Devil in history and just the second ACC player ever, to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. Justin Miller also did it, for Clemson, in 2004. He becomes the 25th player in NCAA history to accomplish the feat.

The Blue Devils offense couldn’t do enough, even with the 14-point boost, however. Duke struggled on third down, converting just 1-of-11.

The defense also struggled to contain Wake’s explosive attack. Quarterback Jamie Newman ran for a career-best 144 yards and added 284 yards by air. He had a 62-yard touchdown pass and a 42-yard touchdown run.  Kenneth Walker added 113 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Kendall Hinton added 189 yards receiving on six catches.

Wake moves to 8-3 on the year, and heads into the final week of the regular season looking to improve its position in the ACC bowl pecking order. Duke, meanwhile, is watching the scoreboard and hoping it won’t have to play out the string.