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Duke Takes Wake Forest In The Season Finale, 34-31

Mike Elko’s first season at Duke has been a smashing success.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Wake Forest at Duke
 DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 26: Riley Leonard (13) of the Duke Blue Devils scrambles with the ball during a football game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Nov 26, 2022 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC.
Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wake Forest has been a tough game for Duke for several years now and this year was no different.

Except that Duke won 34-31, breaking a three-year losing streak.

The Tobacco Road rivals put on a great show that was in doubt until the closing minutes. Duke QB Riley Leonard threw for four TDs but with the game in doubt he tossed an interception in the fourth. However, he made up for it quickly when Duke had the ball with a 53-second, two-play drive to put Duke up 34-31.

On Wake’s next drive, Blue Devil defensive back Darius Joiner intercepted Wake QB Sam Hartman with just 1:22 left and then ran out the clock.

That’s the kind of game it was though.

Neither team ever really had control for long. Wake had a 7-3 first quarter lead but Duke outscored the Deacs 17-10 to take a 20-17 halftime lead. But even that was really close - Todd Pelino hit a field goal with :14 left to break the tie.

Duke scored first in the third on a Leonard pass to Jordan Moore. Wake scored again a couple of minutes later to cut the lead to 27-24.

Wake’s final touchdown came at 12:31 in the fourth on another Hartman pass to take the lead 31-27, setting up Leonard’s late pass.

And so ends Mike Elko’s first regular season at Duke. There is still a bowl game ahead, but the main questions have been answered. Yes, Duke competed. Yes, the man can coach.

Next two questions: first can Duke win a bowl to make it to nine victories? And second, will anyone besides Elko win ACC Coach Of The Year?

Who has done a better job?