My Dad shows up with my nephew and no one has sun screen or wide-breamed hats as the sun reflected brightly off the Groves Stadium concrete. The new prescription turf looks good and the Duke players slip around on it during the warm ups. Maybe it portends something good. There's a cool flyover by the North Carolina Air National Guard and the game gets underway. Two frosh QBs make their first collegiate starts, Riley Skinner for Wake ( I think I finally have his name etched on my brain) and Thad Lewis for the Devils. In the first half one of them looks like an early candidate for rookie of the year. It's not Skinner.
The Dukies run all over the new green turf during the first half. Wake gets nothing going. Since Jim Grobe hit the sidelines, Wake running backs have plowed through the Duke D like a concert crowd storming into the arena for a rock show during the 1970s festival seating days, but not this show. The Deacs don't come close to sniffing triple digits in the ground game. The lethally-toed Sam Swank can't even drill a field goal for the black and gold. Duke goes into the lockerroom with a 10-0 lead that could easily be 28-0. Two redzone fumbles, one into the endzone, and a dropped pass two miles behind the Deacon secondary keeps the Devils from rolling up the recycled Goodyear field and taking it back to Durham because they owned it.
The second half doesn't look any better for the home team. Wake manages a TD drive, but little else. Duke leads 13-7 and its getting late. Skinner rallies the Deacs late and Micah Andrews drives into the endzone to cap a 63-yard drive. Swank's extra point gives Wake a one-point lead. Across the field from my seat a see a small but enthusiastic Duke crowd crushed. I see one guy sitting by himself putting his head into an arm vise. The Devils still have some fans holding out for a win.
The defense just has to do its job and Wake can salt away a hard-earned victory. The next thing I know, Lewis starts gunning the ball down the field. Two pass interference penalaties and long pass puts Duke in the redzone. Forget the field goal, the Devils are playing like they'll stick in the endzone and keep running back home. The Deacs make a touchdown-saving tackle inside the ten. Duke runs a play to position the ball and loses a couple of yards, but all they need is a 27-yard field goal to make Boise a fantasy trip for the Wake faithful. Kicker Joe Surgan lines up for the kick. Wake gets the rush on him and Chip Vaughn flies in and blocks the kick. No time left and the Wake players rush the field in pure joy. Several Devils slump to the turf, but hey, at least one team celebrates unrestrained after beating Duke this year.
Listening to postgame with a slightly burning face, I hear Grobe heap nothing but praise on Riley Skinner, who passed for 235 yards. Lewis threw for 315, but he didn't direct the winning drive. Skinner wins his first rookie of the week honor. Time to go on the road for two weeks.