Sirk, Duke hold on to beat Wake Forest 27-21

J. Wolford run for 5 yds,J. Wolford fumbled, forced by D. Norman, recovered by Duke D. Singleton (0:43)

John Wolford run for 5 yds to the WFrst 36 John Wolford fumbled, forced by Dwayne Norman, recovered by Duke Deondre Singleton (0:43)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Duke was in this spot before, needing only a special-teams tackle with no time left to wrap up an important victory.

No eight-lateral madness this time. No laterals at all, in fact -- just a simple, swarming stop.

The Blue Devils held on to beat Wake Forest 27-21 on Saturday, holding on after Thomas Sirk threw two touchdown passes to Max McCaffrey and ran for another score.

Duke snapped the four-game losing streak that started Oct. 31 when Miami lateraled the final kickoff eight times before bringing it back for the winning touchdown that the ACC later said shouldn't have counted.

It never got nearly that far this time: The Blue Devils ended it by swarming punt returner Tabari Hines before he could get to the 5-yard line.

"Flashbacks definitely come into your mind," Duke defensive back Breon Borders said. "But I was confident the whole time that we were going to get them down."

Sirk was 26 of 39 for 275 yards, hit McCaffrey with touchdown passes covering 18 and 28 yards, and ran 3 yards for another score for the Blue Devils (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

John Wolford threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7), including a 22-yarder to Cortez Lewis that made it a one-score game with 1:46 to play.

Braxton Deaver recovered the ensuing onside kick for Duke at the Wake Forest 45, and the Blue Devils ran out most of the clock before punting with seven seconds left -- a scene reminiscent of that final kickoff against Miami.

Not this time. Hines fielded the punt at the 1 as time expired but was hit first by Zavier Carmichael, then a handful of teammates.

"I don't like to think about that (Miami) game ... but I will say that yes, it was fitting that we ended it on a special teams play like that," Deaver said. "It made it even more special."

Wolford finished 23 of 35 for 338 yards with two interceptions and two TDs, including his 10-yarder to Cam Serigne with 11:20 left.

Serigne finished with 135 yards receiving and Tyler Bell rushed 1 yard for a score for Wake Forest, which lost its sixth straight -- its longest losing streak to end a season since the 1995 team dropped its final seven games.

"I think today was almost our season in a nutshell," coach Dave Clawson said.

Ross Martin kicked field goals of 51 and 35 yards, the latter putting Duke up 27-14 with 2:33 left.

Duke had wandered through a lost November that followed that loss to Miami. The bowl-eligible Blue Devils earned their fourth straight win in the series, and now await their postseason destination. Wake Forest has never beaten a Duke team that went on to reach a bowl game.

"We did some of the things that, in reverse, had been done to us," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said, pointing to his team's three takeaways and no turnovers.

The Blue Devils gave themselves a decent cushion early in the second half. Trailing 17-7, Wake Forest took its first drive into the red zone but Mike Weaver hooked a 28-yard field goal wide left.

Duke then countered with an 80-yard drive that ended on another long Sirk-to-McCaffrey touchdown. With Wake Forest cornerback Dionte Austin bearing down on him, McCaffrey pulled in Sirk's 28-yard pass just shy of the goal line and slipped in to make it a 24-7.

McCaffrey got Duke started with his over-the-shoulder catch of Sirk's perfectly thrown pass in the end zone. At 7-0, that gave Duke just its second lead of the month.

Bell tied it with his scoring plunge on the next possession, but Sirk put Duke ahead to stay when his short touchdown run made it 14-7 with 9:48 left in the half.


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