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Loss in finale can help Wake Forest for bowl

November 26, 2017 GMT

If it helped last season, maybe that can be the case for Wake Forest’s football team this season.

The Deacons lost a one-score game to Boston College in last year’s final game, stewed on that for a month and jumped all over Temple to start the Military Bowl. Now they’ll try to repeat the process against an unknown opponent in an unknown location in about a month.

“It’s just heartbreaking. We went back, we took a couple of steps back today,” senior defensive end Wendell Dunn said after Saturday’s loss to Duke. “It should fire us up for the bowl game, wherever we end up, but we should’ve got this one. We wanted this one, it’s just today we didn’t show up.”

Dunn and classmate Cam Serigne agreed that they’d like the Deacons’ bowl game to be as quickly as possible. Even playing another a game Sunday would’ve helped, they joked. That won’t happen — the Deacons’ likely landing spots for bowls are between Dec. 26-30.

What can happen is Wake Forest channels this familiar disappointment into another stellar bowl performance.

“We’ll come back from it. We’ve got a bunch of resilient guys, we’ve got a bunch of guys that love football,” Coach Dave Clawson said. “They’re not happy and we get one more chance to prove ourselves. We’re glad we get to do that.”

Coming off of consecutive emotional highs in defeating Syracuse and North Carolina State, Dunn’s assessment that the Deacons stepped backward makes sense. But the loss to Duke can become an afterthought with an improved performance in a bowl game.

“One thing about a loss is you learn from it, and the more mistakes you make, the more you learn, usually. So we definitely have a lot to learn from this, and this’ll be motivation going into bowl prep,” senior linebacker Grant Dawson said. “To lock down and get after it every single day, knowing what we have to do to win a game.”

There were plenty of mistakes to learn from against Duke. The Deacons will have a few days off at beginning of this week before getting back to practice. At some point next week, they’ll learn of their bowl assignment.

The painful part for the next few weeks will be not having a game to wash out the taste of the Duke defeat.

“It’s about a month till we play again. You get your mind off it, you don’t dwell on it, you know, I’ve been here before,” senior quarterback John Wolford said. “You can’t carry these things into the next practice or the next week.

“You go through ups and downs, it’s football. We wanted this one bad and we didn’t get it done, so it hurts.”