WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — Tanner Price will leave Wake Forest with some of the best statistics in school history.
He'll also exit never having led the Demon Deacons to a winning season — and his final pass on his home field was one to forget.
Price rushed for one touchdown and threw for another, but his interception in the fourth quarter allowed No. 25 Duke to seal a 28-21 victory on Saturday.
Price was 12 of 27 for 124 yards in his final home game with a 6-yard touchdown to Spencer Bishop and an 11-yard touchdown run.
But the interception he threw to Ross Cockrell with 2:30 left — the Demon Deacons' second turnover of the fourth quarter — clinched their fourth straight loss, their fifth straight losing season and kept them out of the bowl picture for the fourth time in five years.
"That's a hard one to take," Price said.
Price has thrown for 8,744 yards in his career — more than any other Wake Forest quarterback but Riley Skinner, who he replaced in 2010 after he led the Demon Deacons to three straight winning seasons from 2006-09.
But with no chance at a bowl game, the final college game for Price and fellow senior nose tackle Nikita Whitlock next week at Vanderbilt can't help but feel like an exhibition.
"It's about pride. It's about manhood," Whitlock said. "If you love the game, you're going to go play. ... We've got one more game to show what we've got. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it matters to us."
Anthony Boone threw three touchdown passes and Duke claimed a share of the ACC's Coastal Division title with its school-record-tying ninth victory.
If the Blue Devils (9-2, 5-2) beat the Tar Heels next week, they'll play No. 2 Florida State in the league title game in Charlotte with a BCS berth on the line.
"Every time we've won a game, obviously, the next one gets bigger and the challenge gets bigger," coach David Cutcliffe said. "This will be our greatest challenge of the year."
The Blue Devils fell behind 14-0 and spent a decent chunk of the day playing catch-up before change-of-pace QB Brandon Connette rushed 3 yards for the go-ahead score late in the third quarter.
Crowder finished with 121 yards receiving on 10 catches for Duke, which was playing as a ranked team for the first time since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl.
They beat Wake Forest for the second straight year — after losing 12 straight in the series — and reached the nine-win mark for the first time since 1941.
Price capped Wake Forest's opening drive of the second half with an 11-yard touchdown run that put the Demon Deacons up 21-14, before Boone tied it three plays later with his deep TD pass to Crowder.
Boone's 20-yard scramble to the Wake Forest 3 on Duke's next series set up Connette's touchdown run that gave Duke the lead with 3:21 left in the third.
Wake Forest had one last chance after Ross Martin missed a 48-yard field goal with 4:11 left. But Cockrell intercepted Price's late pass over the middle and the Blue Devils ran out the clock to seal their first seven-game winning streak since 1994.
Price said the intended receiver, Sherman Ragland III, stopped his post route — "I think maybe he thought I was scrambling," Price said — and Cockrell jumped the route and picked off the pass.
Duke's defense, which has allowed just three offensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter this season, forced Josh Harris to fumble and defensive end Kenny Anunike sacked Price on consecutive plays to push the Demon Deacons out of field goal range.
For a while, it looked like Duke's first appearance in the Top 25 in nearly two decades was going to be a short one because its offense couldn't get going until midway through the second quarter.
Once it did, it was tough to stop: Duke scored on four of five possessions, and was stopped only when it took a knee to end the half.
The Demon Deacons' offense hadn't scored a touchdown since the second half of the Miami loss on Oct. 26 — and on Duke's second possession, their defense started the scoring.
Thomas Brown turned receiver Isaac Blakeney's fumble into a 59-yard scoop-and-score with 5:02 left in the first. Wake Forest then followed that with its first offensive TD of the month when Price's pass to Bishop made it 14-0 three plays into the second.
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