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    Wolfpack And Blue Devils Clash In Durham
     
    Phili Rivers (#17) scored the game winning touchdown against Duke last season.
    Phili Rivers (#17) scored the game winning touchdown against Duke last season.
     

    Nov. 2, 2001

    By Tony Haynes

    These are exciting times on the Duke campus. As the leaves change around the famed gothic campus, students, alumni and faculty know that yet another basketball season is at hand. Soon, Mike Krzyzewski and his Blue Devils will begin their quest for a fourth national championship.

    But wait a minute, aren't there a few more football games to play? Indeed there are, and while there usually isn't a lot of enthusiasm for Duke football by the time November rolls around, there does always seem to be a buzz in the air when NC State makes the short bus ride over from Raleigh.

    For whatever reason, the same Blue Devils who have managed only three victories over the last three seasons almost always push the Pack to the limit. It happened last year when Philip Rivers' touchdown with just 32 seconds left gave NC State a heart-stopping 35-31 victory. It happened two years ago when the Wolfpack escaped Durham with a 31-24 win in overtime.

    And even though NC State has won the last seven games in the series and 10 of the last 11, seven of the last 10 meetings have been decided by seven points or less.

    "I don't know why it is but it's always a close game," said Duke coach Carl Franks. "Maybe it's because we both throw it around a little bit. There's a lot of man coverage that gets played and occasionally you get some big plays that way. Over the years it really hasn't mattered who has been playing or who has been coaching, there have been a lot of close games over the years."

    When Franks was an assistant under Steve Spurrier from 1987-89, Duke and NC State produced three epic battles. In '87, Bryan Carter's 32-yard field goal with 29 seconds left helped the Pack post a 47-45 win.

    The very next year at Carter-Finley Stadium, the game finished in a 43-43 tie when NC State's Damon Hartman booted a 37-yard field goal as time expired. The final kick was setup by a controversial pass interference call the play before, a call that Spurrier described as the worst in the history of college football. The comments caused the ACC to suspend the Duke coach from his team's game against North Carolina a week later.

    In 1989, the Blue Devils survived Shane Montgomery's passing barrage in a 35-26 triumph over the Wolfpack. In a losing cause, Montgomery set a number of school records by hitting 37-of-73 passes for 535 yards.

    In last year's game, quarterback D Bryant put his named in the Duke record book by hitting 16 straight passes at one point.

    "That's hard to do against air," commented NC State head coach Chuck Amato. "He ought to feel very confident going against the Wolfpack. They moved the ball just like everyone else did on us last year. Carl Franks has learned from one of the best, if not the best (Spurrier), offensive minds in America. They moved the ball on Georgia Tech and they moved it on Florida State. They moved the ball up and down the field for more than 500 yards against Vanderbilt last week."

    The Duke offense may indeed be heating up, but the fact remains that the Blue Devils are 0-8 on the season and have dropped 20 straight games. But players like NC State linebacker Levar Fisher don't want to hear about Blue Devil losing streaks. As a senior, Fisher has been around long enough to know that Duke seems to play its best against the Pack.

    "Duke is a good team, I mean their offense is great," he said. "We're not going to take them lightly. We didn't take them lightly last year and they came out and had a great game against us."

    Said Wolfpack wide receiver Bryan Peterson: "My freshman and sophomore years they played us tough. They're going to come out and play hard and we have to do the same. Rivalry games are like that, whether it's Carolina, Duke or Wake Forest, they're going to come out ready to play because it's a rivalry game. They're hungry for a win."

    NC State certainly showed plenty of hunger in its 24-0 dismantling of Virginia last week. The shutout was the Wolfpack's first in conference play since a 16-0 blanking of Duke in 1990. The Pack's defensive effort against the Cavaliers was as convincing as it was surprising.

    "Their defense really runs to the football well," Franks said. "There's very few times that you see someone make a solo tackle. There are usually two, three or four guys around the football. They play very hard and they're very athletic."

    Especially Fisher, who is just 10 stops away from surpassing Damien Covington as NC State's all-time leading tackler. This season, Fisher is No.1 in the ACC and fifth in the nation in tackles with an average of 14.6 per contest. Middle linebacker Dantonio Burnette, who will return from a knee injury this weekend, is the league's second leading tackler.

    The all-time series stands at 39-32-5, in favor of Duke. NC State has captured three in a row at Wallace Wade Stadium, with the last loss coming in 1993 (21-20).

     

     

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