Hartman, No. 13 Wake Forest top Duke 45-7 to stay unbeaten

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest’s offense has spent the past two weeks moving briskly up and down the field. The good news is the defense came along for the ride with a strong performance of its own after a rough few weeks.

And that has carried these 13th-ranked Demon Deacons to the best start in program history.

Sam Hartman continued his recent tear by accounting for five touchdowns to help Wake Forest beat Duke 45-7 on Saturday, keeping them and in the mix for bigger goals – think an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and being in the College Football Playoff race – than have typically been seen around these parts.

“It’s just guys play for each other, not playing for themselves,” Hartman said. “That’s going to be the biggest challenge. You get the accolades, you get the awards … and it’s: can we keep playing for each other and not play for ourselves?

“It’s enjoyable though. The success, we’ve earned this success. But nothing’s going to be given for the rest of the year and we’re going to have to keep showing up and keep being consistent.”

Hartman threw for 402 yards and three touchdowns, including a 38-yarder to Jaquarii Roberson on the first possession. He also ran for 61 yards and two scores for the Demon Deacons (8-0, 5-0).

It came a week after Hartman threw for five touchdowns and ran for a sixth score in a 70-56 victory over Army. That tied this year’s team for the best start in program history set in 1944, nine years before the formation of the ACC.

Now Dave Clawson‘s bunch owns a new milestone in what is becoming a special season for the league-leading Demon Deacons – a group using the motto of going from “good to great.”

Christian Beal-Smith, Ke’Shawn Williams and Taylor Morin also had touchdowns for Wake Forest, which finished with 677 total yards.

Mataeo Durant ran for 103 yards to lead the Blue Devils (3-5, 0-4). They got little out of their passing game with Gunnar Holmberg throwing for 110 yards and exiting briefly in the first quarter with an apparent injury to his left (non-throwing) hand, then didn’t find the end zone until they late in a 45-0 game.

“We could pick a million things,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. ‘It’s pretty obviously over and over and over where there are a lot of struggles. But the answers all lie within us, and we’ve got to find those answers.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Duke: Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils simply have to figure out how to score. Going back to Charlie Ham’s 22-yard field goal with 5:06 left in a loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 9, Duke went 25 straight completed drives (uninterrupted by halftime or the game’s end) without scoring before reserve Riley Leonard’s 2-yard keeper ended the streak with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter.

“Those guys in the locker room, there’s no quit in those guys,” receiver Jake Bobo said.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have one of the FBS’ top offenses, and they continued putting up points at a brisk clip. But they also got a bounceback performance from a defense that had been struggling for stops through October, first against Louisville and Syracuse before giving up 416 yards rushing against Army’s option-based running attack.

“We feed off their energy,” linebacker Chase Jones said of the offense. “So when they’re flying around making plays … it’s helps us play even better.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Demon Deacons are already the highest-ranked ACC team in the AP Top 25. They could inch up another spot or two with this win, but they’re reaching the range where it’s tougher to climb with fewer teams ahead of them to lose.

COMING UP EMPTY

Duke moved the ball for much of the first half only to stumble multiple times when the time came to close drives with points. Most notably, that included two failed fourth-down tries as well as Durant having the ball chopped away from over his shoulder by Gavin Holmes on a solid gainer across midfield on the way to trailing 28-0 at the break.

UP NEXT

Duke: The Blue Devils return home for another game against a ranked league foe, this one against No. 17 Pittsburgh next Saturday.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons visit North Carolina on Saturday in an unusual scenario: two ACC teams meeting in a nonconference series. They agreed in 2015 to a home-and-home series as their meetings became less frequent due to ACC expansion. Wake Forest won the first in 2019, while last year’s meeting won by UNC returned to its traditional league-game status after the ACC reshuffled its scheduling model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.