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Wake-up call: Demon Deacons take advantage of Duke football miscues in 24-14 win

<p>Daniel Jones is a big reason why Duke's rushing offense is so efficient.</p>

Daniel Jones is a big reason why Duke's rushing offense is so efficient.

After a 17-play opening drive resulted in a touchdown and Duke forced its second three-and-out, the Blue Devils looked like they were in control in their ACC opener.

But the consistency head coach David Cutcliffe wanted to see from his team was nowhere to be found. 

A number of costly mistakes plagued Duke in a 24-14 loss to Wake Forest at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils turned the ball over three times, missed two field goals and gave up five sacks in their first loss of the season. 

"We played hard on offense, we played hard on defense, we played hard in the kicking game," Cutcliffe said. "What we didn’t do was play well. That is 1,000 percent on me. When you’re not playing well, it’s an execution issue."

Led by running back Cade Carney, The Demon Deacons took advantage of Duke's miscues. The freshman gashed Duke for 108 yards on the ground and three touchdowns—including a 55-yard run late in the third quarter to break a 14-14 tie. 

Carney became the first true freshman to score three touchdowns in an FBS game since Purdue’s Chris Barclay in 2002, and was a key part of a Wake Forest offense that struggled early but wore the Blue Devils (1-1, 0-1 in the ACC) down in the second half. The Demon Deacons finished with 239 rushing yards compared to the Blue Devils' 37.

Wake Forest (2-0, 1-0) interchanged quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton in the first half, but stuck with the mobile Hinton when Duke struggled to corral the Durham native. Hinton rushed for 63 yards and threw for another 133, including a 62-yard pass to Alex Bachman that sealed the 24-14 win.

For the Blue Devils, without the consistent rushing attack that was present in last week's win against N.C. Central, the pressure fell on redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones to generate offense for his team.

And although Jones threw for 332 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, he committed a trio of turnovers—including two fumbles—that stalled the offense. 

Both fumbles were caused by Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor, who finished with four tackles for loss, including three sacks. The Duke offensive line struggled all afternoon, with running backs Jela Duncan and Shaun Wilson combining for 31 yards on 11 carries.  

“We’re going to have to look at what we are doing and why we are doing things,” Cutcliffe said. “Some of our best players are in the backfield and we have to put them to work.”

When the Blue Devils did drive deep into Wake Forest territory, they could not convert key opportunities due to a pair of miscues from freshman kicker A.J. Reed—who pushed field goal tries of 30 and 43 to the right of the post—and a few offensive errors. 

A Jones fumble in the first quarter prevented Duke from building on an early 7-0 advantage, and in total the Blue Devils finished the first half with five possessions in Demon Deacon territory and only seven points. 

Jones did not put all the blame on the team’s kicker, and instead insisted that his offense has to execute more efficiently to score touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Duke will hope to improve  on that side of the ball before hitting the road for its next two games at Northwestern and No. 18 Notre Dame. 

“We have to make plays at the biggest points of the game,” Jones said. “We can’t do all that to get down there and not make a play, or put ourselves in a tough situation.” 

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