Nov 20, 2021; Clemson, South Carolina, USA;  Wake Forest running back Christian Turner (0) is tackled by Clemson linebacker Baylon Spector (10) during their game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Josh Morgan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Wake Forest visits BC, bids for berth in ACC title game

No. 18 Wake Forest will look to punch its ticket to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a win over Boston College in the regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Demon Deacons (9-2, 6-1 ACC) control their own destiny as a win over the Eagles would secure their first trip to the conference title game since 2006.

However, Wake Forest has been trending in the wrong direction with losses in two of its last three games.

Last Saturday, the Demon Deacons were blown out in a 48-27 defeat at Atlantic Division rival Clemson. The loss dropped the Demon Deacons eight spots in the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday.

Clemson would qualify for the ACC title game with a win and losses by both Wake Forest and North Carolina State. The Wolfpack would earn a spot in the championship matchup with a win and a Demon Deacons’ loss.

“You tell me that we’re 9-2 going into Boston College, playing for an ACC championship, I can’t tell you that I wouldn’t be excited and fired up — so that’s got to be the mentality,” Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman said.

Hartman completed 27 of 43 passes for 312 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the loss to the Tigers. A.T. Perry reeled in five catches for 113 yards and Jaquarii Roberson had six receptions for 93 yards.

Wake Forest ranks second in the ACC in scoring, averaging 43.1 points through 11 games. Defensively, the Demon Deacons have allowed the fourth-most total yards in the ACC at 449.4 per game.

“You can’t do anything to change what happened last week,” defensive lineman Miles Fox said Tuesday. “Practice has been good, (BC is) a very good team, and we just have to make sure that we correct those mistakes.”

Boston College (6-5, 2-5) had its momentum halted in a 26-23 home loss to Florida State last Saturday. The Eagles had won two straight since the surprise return of starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec from a potential season-ending hand injury.

Jurkovec was held to 148 yards passing (10-of-24) with a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 59 yards and a score against the Seminoles.

BC fell behind 26-3 early in the third quarter before mounting a comeback. Jurkovec led a 14-play, 64-yard drive spanning 6:18 to drive the Eagles into Florida State territory before tossing a pick on fourth-and-9 to end the rally.

Once a season filled with ACC title game aspirations of its own before Jurkovec’s injury, BC will now be looking to avoid a .500 season while bettering its bowl standings in the finale against Wake Forest.

“For a lot of people, it’s their final (regular season) game. So we want to make it a good one,” Jurkovec said Tuesday. “We want to send people off with a win.”

Jurkovec said he isn’t quite back to full health, but that his grip strength “feels good” heading into Saturday’s game.

Eagles coach Jeff Hafley knows his team will have to be ready for a quarterback playing the best football of his career in Hartman.

“Very explosive offense,” Hafley said. “They want to throw the ball more than anybody that we’ve played down the field, which in my opinion starts with the quarterback.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Wake Forest Demon Deacons tight end Blake Whiteheart (85) run s with the ball after his catch during the first half against the Duke Blue Devils at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Wake Forest wallops Duke to stay undefeated

Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes and ran for two scores in another huge offensive performance as No. 13 Wake Forest drubbed visiting Duke 45-7 on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Demon Deacons are 8-0 for the first time in program history.

Hartman completed 24-of-37 passes for 402 yards without an interception. A.T. Perry caught seven passes for 116 yards.

Those numbers were part of Wake Forest’s 677 yards of total offense. Christian Turner was the team’s top rusher with 75 yards on 10 carries, with Hartman next with 61 yards on six rushing attempts.

Wake Forest (5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 28-0 at halftime. This was the Demon Deacons’ lone conference game across a four-week period, and it came on homecoming.

Duke (3-5, 0-4), which lost its fourth game in a row, nearly went two full games without scoring. The Blue Devils were shut out two weeks earlier at Virginia in their most recent game.

Wake Forest lost its shutout bid when Duke’s Riley Leonard scored on a 2-yard run with 7:17 to play.

Running back Mataeo Durant gained 103 yards on 20 carries for Duke. Quarterback Gunnar Holmberg was 10-for-18 for 110 yards.

The Demon Deacons seemed to pick up where they left off from a 70-56 victory a week earlier at Army. It took just 91 seconds for the Demon Deacons to go 75 yards, with Hartman connecting with Jaquarii Roberson for a 38-yard scoring play.

Hartman then scored on runs of 26 and 4 yards before a 3-yard pass to Ke’Shawn Williams.

About the only thing that went wrong for Wake Forest was that Nick Sciba, who’s bidding to become the all-time most accurate kicker in NCAA history, missed a field goal on a 26-yard attempt. He later was good from 26 yards out.

Duke moved into Wake Forest territory on three of its first four possessions, but came up empty each time.

–Field Level Media

Sep 8, 2018; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons place kicker Nick Sciba (96) attempts a field goal in the second quarter against the Towson Tigers at BB&T Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Wake tries to stay unbeaten, visits Syracuse

Two teams that know plenty about the importance of a field goal meet Saturday when No. 19 Wake Forest takes on host Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0 ACC) is trying to build on one of the best starts in the program’s history.

“If you’re going to have a special season, you’re going to find a way to win your share,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

The Demon Deacons had their only close call of the season last week, when a last-minute field goal by Nick Sciba boosted them to a 37-34 victory over visiting Louisville.

A few hours later, Syracuse (3-2, 0-1) experienced the other end of a late field goal, when host Florida State broke a tie on the game’s final play in a 33-30 decision in Tallahassee, Fla.

“We’ll stay together,” Orange coach Dino Babers said. “We’ll get another opportunity. I think we’re doing some good things.”

This marks the third year in a row that the Demon Deacons visit Syracuse, losing at the Carrier Dome 39-30 in 2019 in overtime and then winning last year 38-14.

“We’ve got basically the No. 1 team in the ACC coming into our house,” Syracuse fullback Chris Elmore said. “Wake Forest, they’re not a pushover.”

The Demon Deacons, who hold the highest national ranking among ACC teams, are 3-0 in conference play for the first time in a decade.

Sciba made three field goals in the Louisville game, pushing his career total to 67 of 74 for the highest percentage (.905) in NCAA history.

Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt, who is 6-for-8 on field goals this season, has strong credentials as well. He was the 2018 Lou Groza Award winner as a freshman, when he led the NCAA with 30 field goals, and has made 62 of 73 of attempts in his career — an 84.9 percentage.

Significant contributions keep coming from across the Wake Forest roster. Safety Traveon Redd was the ACC Defensive Back of the Week after making 11 tackles and forcing a fumble in the Louisville game, while running back Justice Ellison was the ACC Rookie of the Week owing to his team-high 67 rushing yards. Ellison has scored a touchdown in each of the past three games.

“He’s very reliable, dependable,” Clawson said.

That’s a good thing, because running back Christian Beal-Smith has been “nicked up,” Clawson said.

Quarterback Sam Hartman of Wake Forest eclipsed the 300-yard mark for passing yards for the first time this season in the Louisville game.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader tied a Syracuse record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with three against Florida State. It was the Mississippi State transfer’s second start with the Orange.

“We’ve got to score in the red zone,” Shrader said. “We’ve got to score more touchdowns. … I felt like we had a lot more confidence in the offense, that we’re going to be able to go make plays.”

Syracuse is retooling a bit after Taj Harris, who had been the team’s top receiver through four games, entered the transfer portal. He didn’t play at Florida State. At least the Orange has Elmore back after he missed the first four games.

The winning team in this matchup has scored at least 38 points in four straight meetings, beginning with Wake Forest’s 64-43 road win in 2017.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons tight end Blake Whiteheart (85) runs with the ball as Virginia Cavaliers defensive back Anthony Johnson (3) chases during the second quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest, Louisville square off as two of ACC’s hottest teams

Louisville visits No. 24 Wake Forest on Saturday in a meeting between two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s hottest teams.

The Cardinals (3-1, 1-0 ACC) are coming off their third straight victory, a 31-23 decision at Florida State. Louisville is seeking to improve to 4-1 for the first time in four years.

The undefeated Demon Deacons (4-0, 2-0) scored on their first seven possessions last week when they earned a 37-17 road triumph against Virginia.

Wake Forest notched six sacks and forced the Cavaliers into committing two turnovers (a fumble and an interception) to make it 11 takeaways overall and a plus-seven turnover margin this season.

“They’re where they are supposed to be,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said of the Deacons’ defensive players. “They’re playing hard up front. Everything starts in the trenches.

“They’re making the quarterback throw the ball when he doesn’t want to. When that happens, then sometimes those turnovers are going to happen.”

Wake Forest linebacker Luke Masterson has a team-high 27 tackles (18 solo) after moving from safety.

“Luke’s an excellent football player. We’ve wanted to move him there for two years,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We moved him there during the Florida State game a few years ago and he had 18 tackles. We just could never stay healthy at safety.”

Defensive end Luiji Vilain has 2.5 sacks for a unit yielding 357.8 yards per game.

Offensively, Wake Forest is led by quarterback Sam Hartman, who has completed 74 of 112 passes (66.1 percent) for 961 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception.

Hartman has thrown at least one scoring pass in eight straight games.

Satterfield would like to enjoy a Saturday without seeing one of his key players suffer a season-ending injury. Linebacker Monty Montgomery (torn ACL vs. UCF on Sept. 17) and wide receiver/punt returner Braden Smith (torn knee ligaments vs. Florida State) were lost for the year the past two weeks.

“That’s two players in back-to-back weeks for us, key contributors — one on offense, one on defense. I hate it,” Satterfield told media members Monday. ‘That’s the awful part of this game we have to deal with on a week-to-week basis.”

Quarterback Malik Cunningham uses his arm and legs to fuel the Cardinals offense. Cunningham has completed 62 percent (85 of 137) for 998 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 263 yards on 56 carries (4.7 yards per carry) with eight TDs.

“(Cunningham) is very good and he’s mobile,” Wake Forest defensive back Coby Davis said during a video conference. “We just have to do a good job containing him.”

Outside linebacker Jack Fagot leads a Louisville defense that notched six sacks against Florida State. The Cardinals are allowing 418.2 yards and 26 points per game.

Louisville won the last two meetings and leads the all-time series 6-2.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) scrambles past Virginia Cavaliers outside linebacker Noah Taylor (7) during the second quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hartman guides Wake Forest to rout of Virginia

Sam Hartman threw for three touchdowns and Wake Forest won another lopsided game, defeating Virginia 37-17 on Friday night in Charlottesville, Va.

Wake Forest (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), playing on the road for the first time this season, matched its 2020 win total.

Demon Deacons running back Justice Ellison added 86 yards on 13 carries, including a 1-yard scoring run.

Hartman completed 17 of 29 passes for 270 yards. He had touchdown throws of 39 yards to Taylor Morin, 12 yards to Blake Whiteheart and 12 yards to A.T. Perry.

Virginia (2-2, 0-2) lost for the second week in a row, with its defense struggling again.

This time, Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong wasn’t able to duplicate his school-record numbers from last week’s 59-39 loss at North Carolina. Still, he threw two third-quarter touchdown passes, the second helping the Cavaliers close within 27-17.

Virginia didn’t score in the fourth quarter, stalling on a fourth-down plays and committing turnovers on back-to-back possessions.

Armstrong was busy, completing 33 of 59 passes for 407 yards without an interception until his 52nd pass. Dontaytvion Wicks caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. The Cavaliers managed only 99 yards rushing, with more than half of those coming on the game’s last possession.

The teams combined to score on five consecutive possessions, including touchdowns on four series in a row to begin the second half.

Nick Sciba kicked three field goals for Wake Forest.

Three of the Demon Deacons’ touchdown drives lasted nine plays and the other consisted of seven snaps. The team’s top receiver was Jaquarii Roberson with four catches for 91 yards.

The Demon Deacons broke out to a 20-3 halftime lead on the way to defeating a team from the state of Virginia for the third time this season. Old Dominion and Norfolk State were the others.

Virginia’s first-half points came on a Justin Duenkel field goal.

Wake Forest has won five straight meetings in the series with Virginia.

–Field Level Media