Where do I begin? This was a typical Duke vs Wake Forest matchup. There were crazy officiating calls (After further review it is 3rd down.) There were odd plays in the game. One where Jela Duncan could have walked into the endzone if it wasn’t for the helmet rule that blew the play dead. Then there were momentum shifts happening all the time. Like most Duke fans, I thought Duke was going to blow the game after allowing Wake to score on a 9 play, 98 yard drive. Then the ensuing offensive play for Duke, Renfree gets injured while throwing an interception on Duke’s own 23 yard line.
Coming into this game, there was hype about Duke’s defense, and they seem as good as advertised. Sure, they gave up 397 yards of total offense, but they are finally making the big plays to win the game. They showed a glimpse of making big plays on defense last year when Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo forced a fumble vs FIU and Anthony Young-Wiseman recovered it that led to a Juwan Thompson game winning TD. But now Duke is making important defensive stops consistently in the fourth quarter to win games.
Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo came up huge again with a forced fumble on the Wake Forest 7 yard line. A couple plays later, Duke’s Anthony Boone scored on a great playing action fake to put Duke up 27-20. Later in the fourth quarter, CJ France made a diving interception that gave Duke the ball back. On the ensuing drive with 2:50 left in the game, Jela Duncan ran a 17-yard run in for a TD that put the game out of reach for the Demon Deacons.
Unfortunately for Duke, the injury bug is still hitting them. They had two players go down in the first three plays, and a total of five players were injured during the game. Duke’s injury report could become concerning considering its almost half way through the season and there are already 11 players out for a significant amount of time.
But unlike many Duke teams in the past 18 years, this team has rallied to become one. When one player becomes injured, another steps up. Tony Foster made great plays on the ball when Lee Butler went down and Anthony Boone stepped in when Sean Renfree went down with an elbow injury.
Conner Vernon said it best, “This was the biggest game of my career.”