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Duke Football Darkest Moments of the Decade: No's 6 and 5

Another wild game against Pitt and a season-defining loss to Wake are next

Duke football’s countdown of dark moments from the 2010 reaches the midpoint with a pair of conference losses in seasons that eventually spiraled to losing records.

The first was yet another wild game against Pitt, who always seems to have coach David Cutcliffe’s number. The other was a September loss to Wake Forest that sent the 2016 on a downward trajectory.

No. 6: Cade Carney runs over Blue Devils:

Duke entered the 2016 season on a four-year bowl streak and coming off their first win since their return to the postseason began. A season-opening blowout win over NC Central was followed by a visit from cross-state foe Wake Forest.

Duke had won four straight against the Demon Deacons, usually near the end of the season, including two years when Wake was Duke’s final opponent of the regular season.

The Sept. 10 game in 2016 was the earliest Duke had faced Wake since 2006.

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Duke had no answer for freshman running back Cade Carney, who rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns, including a 55-yarder in the third quarter that put Wake on top to stay.

No. 5: Incredible comeback falls short against Pitt:

Strange things happen when Duke and Pitt get together. Since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2013, the pair had played a 58-55 game (won by Pitt) and a 51-48 game (won by Duke). Pitt has had Duke’s number in recent years, winning four straight, including a 54-45 game in 2018.

So, when the Panthers came to Wallace Wade in 2019, observers were expecting just about anything. And that’s just what they got.

Late in the first quarter, Duke quarterback Quentin Harris turned the ball over three times in four offensive snaps, fumbling and throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Pitt would go up 26-3 late in the third quarter.

Then, suddenly, Duke’s sputtering offense came to life, and the Blue Devils stormed back, and a fourth-quarter touchdown brought the score to 26-24. Duke tried a two-point conversion to tie and appeared to be successful, but the referees ruled that there had been an inadvertent whistle and called for the rare “do over” on the play, which failed the second time.

Duke scored with 1:29 remaining to take a 30-26 lead, but Pitt was able to march down the field and score the winning touchdown with 38 seconds left.