Wake Forest Defeats Duke: A Look Back on a Disappointing Season
This season has certainly been a disappointment for the Demon Deacons, but at least Riley Skinner and the Deacs won their final game to end a season, career, and era on a positive note.
Faced with tough losses all year, Wake Forest could not catch a break anywhere. Five of their seven losses were by three points or less. They proved they could compete with anyone (except in a rough 38-3 loss to Clemson), they just couldn't hold on to the lead.
A Quick Week by Week Summary
Wake started shaky in week one against Baylor, and came within one final possession of winning, but just couldn't close it out.
They had solid wins against Stanford, a team who had not hit the national spotlight behind Toby Gerhart yet (and they kept Gerhart in check that game), and against Elon, admittedly not the toughest opponent.
They then suffered a tough loss in overtime to Boston College, where Riley Skinner was hit awkwardly causing a fumble on the three yard line as he was running for the end zone. A touchdown would have won the game as well.
The season looked like it was being turned around, after two nice wins against North Carolina State and Maryland, but then it all went downhill.
The Deacs were stomped by Clemson, losing by 35 points, where both the offense and defense seemed decimated. After this game, the losses just kept on coming, regardless of the circumstances.
In a rematch from their two games against the Midshipmen last season, where the Deacs lost in the regular season, but won the bowl game, once again Wake Forest lost by three points. Trailing the whole game, Wake could not stop the triple option as Navy attempted zero passes that game.
Wake then took on Miami, a game that looked like an automatic loss, given Miami's ranking and success this season. But the Deacons showed their skill, leading by 17 points at one time. But, they could not hold on to the lead, and lost by one point after a Miami touchdown with only a minute to go.
They then faced Georgia Tech, a team ranked higher, and most expected a worse loss. Exactly the opposite happened. The Deacs kept up with the Yellow Jackets the whole time in a tight game, and even led by seven at one point. But, they, again, could not hold on, losing by three in OT.
At this point, Wake needed to defeat both Florida State and Duke to become bowl eligible and it seemed possible given the struggles both teams have had.
However, the Deacs suffered an 11 point loss to the Seminoles, their second worst loss of the season. Yes, that's right. A team that finished with seven losses only had two losses of eleven or more points. The other five were all by three points or less.
Wake's "bowl" game came against the Duke Blue Devils with the final game of the season. The Deacons won the game convincingly by 11 points, but were leading the game from the second quarter.
Riley Skinner had a career day in his last game as a Demon Deacon, finishing with 372 passing yards and five touchdowns. The defense got back to their old ways by scoring off turnovers as Alex Frye had a "pick six" that sealed the 45-34 victory.
The season was certainly a disappointment for the Deacons and their fans. The defense was not as dominant as it had been in the past, showing how truly important players like Stanley Arnoux, Chip Vaughn, Alphonso Smith, and Aaron Curry were to the defense.
The Deacons can only wait for next season, but it will be the first time in four years that the offense is not led by quarterback Riley Skinner. It will be a rough change, but the Deacons will persist with talented backs Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass still around.
Grobe's defensive minded team should improve next year as the young defense will have more experience from this season. The defense was shaky this season, as they had good performances and some pretty terrible showings. They certainly developed as the season went on, but an offseason could be just what this team needs to get better.
For now, Deacon fans can only thank Riley Skinner for the great four years, enjoy this year's bowl season, and hope to get back to the winning ways next season.
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