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Wake Forest offense plays better, but falls to Duke 41-21 in last game of Clawson's 1st year

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DURHAM, North Carolina — Wake Forest played one of its best offensive games under new coach Dave Clawson.

It just wasn't enough for the Demon Deacons to end the year with a second straight win.

Freshman John Wolford threw a season-high three touchdown passes in Wake Forest's 41-21 loss to Duke on Saturday night.

Wolford finished 24 of 36 for 251 yards with TDs covering 27 yards to Jared Crump, 17 to Cam Serigne and 40 to Brandon Terry for the Demon Deacons (3-9, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference).

They wrapped up the year with one of their most productive offensive performances.

Wake Forest was coming off an offensively challenged 6-3, double-overtime victory over Virginia Tech, and entered with the worst offense in the Bowl Subdivision, averaging just 207 total yards per game.

The 21 points and 315 yards were their best since a September win over Army.

"For our offense to struggle as we have all year, and to play our best game (in) Week 12, I think certainly speaks volumes of the types of kids we have," Clawson said.

Wolford made things interesting by picking apart a Duke defense that allowed 591 total yards in last week's 45-20 loss to rival North Carolina that eliminated the Blue Devils (9-3, 5-3) from Coastal Division contention.

Wolford's long pass to Terry on the Demon Deacons' first series of the second half pulled them to 27-21.

Duke then went 78 yards and went back up by two scores on a strange play: Sirk, the short-yardage specialist, fumbled as he dove into the end zone and Blaser recovered it in the end zone for the touchdown that made it 34-21 with 6:46 left in the third.

The Blue Devils iced it midway through the fourth by going 77 yards in 6:06, capped by Thomas Sirk's jump-pass to David Reeves that made it a 20-point game with 6:06 left.

Boone was 19 of 31 for 275 yards with a 7-yard touchdown run and a 52-yard scoring pass to Jamison Crowder.

"I wanted our team to understand what we were here to do," coach David Cutcliffe said, "and that was to win the football game."

Shaun Wilson ran 8 yards for a touchdown and offensive lineman Casey Blaser recovered a fumble in the end zone for another TD.

The teams combined for 744 total yards, and Duke had 439 of them — its most since gaining 511 against Kansas on Sept. 13.

The Blue Devils also scored their most points in regulation — their 51-48 win over Pitt came in double overtime — since putting 47 on Tulane on Sept. 20.

The Blue Devils earned their first three-game winning streak in the series since 1993-95, their first consecutive winning seasons in ACC play since 1960-63 and the first back-to-back nine-win seasons in program history.

"I told our team, I said, 'Watch these seniors play tonight,'" Cutcliffe said. "As you move forward, understand what it means to be a Duke football player. A lot of these guys have changed what that meaning is."

Issac Blakeney had seven catches for 107 yards and Crowder added 102 yards receiving on eight receptions for the Blue Devils, who looked like they were headed for a rout with a series of big plays in the first quarter.

First, Crump was drilled as he fielded a punt and C.J. France recovered for Duke at the Wake Forest 26. Wilson scored five plays later to make it 14-7 and put them ahead to stay.

Then, the Blue Devils dialed up an onside kick — Cutcliffe said the onside was the plan all along after Duke's second score — and kicker Jack Willoughby recovered at the Duke 48.

On the first play after that, Boone fired deep for Crowder and the receiver broke free down the right sideline for the touchdown that made it 21-7.

Ross Martin added a 45-yard field goal on Duke's next possession to make it 24-7.

"We just spotted them too many points," Clawson said.


Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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