After a slow first half start, the Demon Deacons found a way to turn everything around in the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points to beat the Connecticut Huskies 24-10.
Wake Forest scored on a long Josh Adams touchdown run of 38 yards, a 21 yard touchdown pass from Riley Skinner to John Tereshinski, a Sam Swank 42 yard field goal, and finally put the game out of reach with a nine yard touchdown run by senior Micah Andrews.
Except for one unfortunate fumble inside the five yard line, the second half was a thing of beauty for the Deacs. The defense, which only allowed a field goal in the first half (UConn's only TD was a punt return), played well all day long, and the offense began completing drives in the second half (which was the only thing that seemed to be missing in the first).
Although I was frustrated with the score at the half, I felt that Wake was definitely the better team on the field. Unlike UConn, Wake seemed capable of making big offensive plays, and I enjoyed seeing the Deacs stretch the field vertically today more than they have all season.
Nothing made me more happy than Micah Andrews getting to score a touchdown on the last play of his career. It's been a tough couple of years for Micah, and to see him go out on such a high note was really nice. Congrats to Micah on a great career at Wake—I wish him the best in whatever he does next (sounds like it will be something theatrical).
ACC Rookie of the Year Josh Adams struggled at times today, although the real issues seemed to be more a lack of holes than a lack of running prowess. He did finish with 81 yards on the ground, including one beautiful 38 yard touchdown run, and I know he will be a huge part of Wake's offense for at least two and hopefully three years to come.
Riley Skinner had a pretty solid day himself, completing 29 of 38 passes for 267 yards, the most he's had all season. His touchdown throw to Tereshinki was beautiful, and he should have had another to Kevin Marion.
One thing I love about our offense is that it allows for days like today where Riley finds 10 different receivers. Spreading the ball around like that really keeps a defense on its toes. Although the interception was not a particularly good throw, Skinner had a typically effective day, and once again proved that he's the man for the job here at Wake Forest. Hopefully the coaches will be more willing to continue throwing the ball down field next year after Riley and the offense's performance today.
Alphonso Smith moonlighted on the offensive side of the ball today and had three catches, one of which went for twelve yards. I don't know if this is something we'll see regularly next season, or if it was one of those Bowl Game Special type of moves, but I enjoyed seeing the coaching staff trying to find more ways to get him involved. Although he didn't add to his interception or TD totals today, he played a strong game, and I'm more than happy that we can expect to see him in Old Gold and Black one more time next year.
Kenny Moore also deserves recognition for his 11 catches today, which gives him the ACC record for most receptions in a season with 98. Congrats, Kenny, on a great record and an incredible senior season.
The defense played solidly as a whole, sacking Tyler Lorenzen twice and hurrying him on several other occasions. UConn picked up 115 rush yards, but considering that the rush is the strongest part of UConn's offense, I'd say that's a pretty good day. Stanley Arnoux played a great game, grabbing an interception on a tipped ball at a crucial point.
With the win, Wake improves to 9-4 for their 2007 campaign, and has now won twenty football games in the last two years. I know long time Wake Forest fans never thought they'd hear something like that, and it truly is a thing of beauty.
Coach Grobe looked characteristically stoic on the sidelines all day, and barely even cracked a smile until well after the game was over. He did a great job guiding the Deacs all season long, and it calms me greatly to be confident that he'll be back on the sidelines in 2008.
The published attendance of today's game was 53,126. I was hopeful that this number would end up being a little bit higher, but seeing the endzone parts of the upper deck made it clear that the game was nowhere near sold out.
Wake fans were definitely out in force, and several times the "Wake" "Forest" chant could be heard on TV. I will say that I think the MCCB makes a big mistake by not selling the midfield seats to the participating schools. Corporate sponsors who had those seats did not turn out in great numbers, and it was very strange to see the middle of the lower deck looking as spotty as did.
If Wake ends up playing in Charlotte in the future, I hope they fix this issue. Although there did seem to be a reasonably good UConn turnout, I can proudly say that the stadium definitely seemed dominated by Deacon fans.
That's all I've got for now. It was a great afternoon to be a Deacon fan—and this should leave a very nice taste in our mouths until next August rolls around. Who knows, if the cards fall the right way, we could end up in the top 25 when the final rankings are announced, which would certainly be a solid accomplishment.
I'm sure there will be some decent follow up over the next few days, but for now we should all jus enjoy a beautiful win.
Congratulations guys—you make Wake Forest fans everywhere proud to be Deacons!
Update: I somehow failed to mention Kenny Moore's record, so I fixed that. My apologies, Kenny.