Turnovers doom Wake Forest to 27-21 loss to Duke, enter offseason on 6-game losing streak

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WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — Wake Forest's final game looked an awful lot like the rest of the season.

Too many turnovers. Too few points.

The Demon Deacons lost their finale to Duke 27-21 on Saturday after their late rally came up short.

Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed by 17 points in the third quarter, and finished with three turnovers that the Blue Devils turned into 10 points.

"I think today was almost our season in a nutshell," coach Dave Clawson said.

John Wolford threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter for Wake Forest, including a 22-yarder to Cortez Lewis that made it a one-score game with 1:46 to play.

Wolford finished 23 of 35 for 338 yards and also threw a 10-yard TD to Cam Serigne with 11:20 left. But he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

Wake Forest entered tied for 115th nationally in turnover margin at minus-10.

"We played well. We made a lot of plays and, just really, three bad plays that lost us the game," Wolford said, referring to the turnovers. "We always say if you lead the country in turnover margin, what's your destination going to be? It's going to be Charlotte (for the ACC title game) and we were one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnovers, and a lot of that's on me.

"I've got to find ways to not turn the ball over," he added. "I've started plenty of games that, this far along, I shouldn't be making those mistakes."

Serigne finished with 135 yards receiving and Tyler Bell rushed 1 yard for a score for Wake Forest, which lost its sixth straight — its longest losing streak to end a season since the 1995 team dropped its final seven games.

The Demon Deacons had one last-gasp chance after forcing a punt with 7 seconds left, but returner Tabari Hines fielded Will Monday's punt at the 1 and was swarmed at the 5 with no time left.

Thomas Sirk threw two touchdown passes to Max McCaffrey and ran for another score for Duke.

Sirk was 26 of 39 for 275 yards, hit McCaffrey with touchdown passes covering 18 and 28 yards, and ran 3 yards for another score for the Blue Devils (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

They came up with a game-ending stop on special teams after Miami started their four-game losing streak with a wild eight-lateral kickoff return with no time left.

"I don't like to think about that (Miami) game ... but I will say that yes, it was fitting that we ended it on a special teams play like that," tight end Braxton Deaver said. "It made it even more special."

Ross Martin kicked field goals of 51 and 35 yards, the latter putting Duke up 27-14 with 2:33 left.

Duke had wandered through a lost November that followed that loss to Miami. The bowl-eligible Blue Devils earned their fourth straight win in the series, and now await their postseason destination. Wake Forest has never beaten a Duke team that went on to reach a bowl game.

"We did some of the things that, in reverse, had been done to us," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said, referring to the turnover margin.

Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org

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