DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -The play that set the tone for yet another miserable season at Duke wound up propelling its small, private-school rival to its best season ever.
Had Joe Surgan's last-second field goal attempt been a few inches higher against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils would have had at least one win last season, rather than the perfectly awful 0-12 finish they turned in.
Instead, the Demon Deacons swatted away that chip shot to preserve the win and went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Duke went into a tailspin in what was a defining moment for both teams.
``It was the worst feeling. I couldn't get over it,'' Duke cornerback Glenn Williams said Tuesday. 'I know you're supposed to forget (about the games), but that just resonates in you.''
Now the Blue Devils (1-4, 0-2) are out to redeem themselves this week against Wake Forest (2-2, 1-1). They're determined to prove that - after flirting with several upsets before ultimately falling short - it's no longer acceptable to merely keep the score close.
``We've come a long way,'' coach Ted Roof said. ``But to find a way to make one more play to get it done, instead of just playing it close - we're not happy with close. ... If you just keep putting yourself in those situations, with the right leadership, which we have, things will eventually turn.''
Most recently, Duke once again threatened to stun Miami, trailing by three points late and moving deep into Hurricanes territory before falling short in a 24-14 loss last week. A year earlier, the Blue Devils finished one play shy of upsetting suspension-saddled Miami but ultimately fell 20-15.
But the one that really stings is that 14-13 loss to Wake Forest last year.
Duke led for most of that mistake-filled game, blowing several chances to build a big first-half lead with turnovers and a missed field goal. Wake Forest rallied to go ahead by one point on Micah Andrews' touchdown run in the final 90 seconds, but the Blue Devils regrouped and drove inside the red zone to set up the decisive 28-yard kick.
As Surgan lined up his attempt, Williams closed his eyes and prayed on the sideline while running back Re'quan Boyette kneeled.
The ball was snapped, and Chip Vaughn leaped from behind the line and blocked the kick with his right arm. While the Demon Deacons celebrated their momentum-boosting victory, Duke trudged off the field.
``You just think to yourself, 'Not again.' ... It's a gut-wrenching feeling,'' Williams said. ``We were happy with the effort, but disgusted with the loss.''
It was just another lesson in the rough education the Blue Devils are receiving on how to become consistent winners. After following their victory over Northwestern with close losses to Navy and Miami, Roof hopes his team can find a way to finish strong.
The Blue Devils are ``not where we need to be. Just got to keep knocking on the door and putting yourself in those positions,'' Roof said. ``You'll get your share. I'm not worried about our share right now. I'm worried about one, trying to get one.''
Sports Insights' Advanced Betting Tools - NFL Free 14-Day Trial

NCAAF Team Pages

Recent NCAAF Discussions