Wake holds off Duke|Backup QB Price throws three TDs

Published 3:51 pm Sunday, September 12, 2010

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM — No matter who’s at quarterback, Wake Forest showed it can still do two things: Pile up points, and beat Duke.
Backup Tanner Price threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, and the Demon Deacons held off the Blue Devils 54-48 on Saturday for its 11th straight victory in the series.
Price was 12 of 19 for 190 yards with scoring passes covering 13, 38 and 23 yards and an early 1-yard scoring run for Wake Forest (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which posted the first consecutive 50-point games in school history and won the second-highest-scoring game in league history.
‘‘As a football coach, your worst nightmare is when you get into those shootouts,’’ Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. ‘‘Your comfort zone’s around your defense being stingy, and so I think it was a great TV game. If you’re sitting at home watching it, you’re loving it because that score keeps going up.’’
Wake Forest outgained the Blue Devils 500-487. During an early 5-minute stretch, the teams combined for three touchdowns of at least 60 yards.
‘‘We’ve got to tackle better to begin with. And (have) the discipline to be consistent enough not to give up huge plays,’’ Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. ‘‘We got the ball run at us, and we got the ball thrown at us. A lot of it was not tackling very well.’’
Sean Renfree was 28 of 44 for 358 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions for Duke (1-1, 0-1). Conner Vernon caught two TDs, covering 70 and 51 yards.
Renfree’s second scoring pass to Vernon made it a six-point game with 1:39 remaining, but Marshall Williams recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Renfree had touchdowns covering 9 yards to Cooper Helfet and 13 yards to Austin Kelly. Vernon finished with eight catches for 181 yards — his second straight 100-yard game — and Desmond Scott rushed for 122 yards including a 63-yard score.
Will Snyderwine kicked field goals covering 46 and 38 yards for the Blue Devils, with the second pulling them to 48-41 with 8:45 remaining. Price then led them on a 13-play, 79-yard drive that chewed up nearly 6 minutes and ended with Devon Brown’s 6-yard touchdown run.
Price and Ted Stachitas were among the leaders in the preseason race to replace record-setter and graduated four-year starter Riley Skinner. The two shared time in the first half before Stachitas bruised his left (nonthrowing) hand — a troublesome injury for a key member of an offense that runs so many pitches to both sides of the field.
Price, who played the entire second half, put the Demon Deacons ahead to stay midway through the third quarter by finding a wide-open Williams streaking down the right sideline from 38 yards out, making it 41-35.
Earlier, those two hooked up from 13 yards out during a school-record-tying 28-point second quarter for Wake Forest. Price threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Danny Dembry on the fourth play of the fourth quarter to make it 48-38.
‘‘There’s always pressure to score,’’ Price said. ‘‘No lead’s big enough, and the game can turn around in a matter of seconds, so you’ve just got to keep scoring.’’
Stachitas had an early 23-yard touchdown run for the Demon Deacons. In addition to his two touchdown catches, Williams threw another on a gadget play to Chris Givens — who also scored while returning fumbled snap on a punt and finished with four catches for 159 yards.
‘‘We showed up, and we’d have a head down, and a guy would run by us,’’ Cutcliffe said. ‘‘It was kind of a unique thing. … You just can’t give up that. Again, I know we’re better than that.’’
Four of the previous five meetings in Winston-Salem wound up being tight affairs that weren’t decided until the final moments.
Just like them, this one ended with a Wake Forest victory. Duke hasn’t beaten the Demon Deacons anywhere since 1999, and hasn’t won in Winston-Salem since the year before that.
‘‘I’m just glad I’m 5-0 against them,’’ fifth-year senior Matt Woodlief said. ‘‘That’s all I care about.’’
This one was destined for that kind of finish, and the tone was set during a wild first half in which the teams combined for 604 total yards and midway through the second quarter, there were touchdowns scored on three consecutive snaps.
Renfree’s long strike to Vernon came one play after Price’s scoring sneak put the Demon Deacons up by seven. That 21-all tie didn’t last long: Williams took a pitch on an end-around and found Givens wide open behind the Blue Devils’ secondary for an 81-yard score — the longest by Wake Forest in stadium history.
Then came more wackiness. After Price’s first scoring pass to Marshall put Wake Forest up 35-21, Scott had a 63-yard touchdown run. Renfree’s touchdown pass to Kelly with 41 seconds left tied it at the half.
‘‘Before you could blink,’’ Grobe said, ‘‘it was 35-35.’’