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.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.