Quarterback Graham Mertz scored two of Wisconsin’s five rushing touchdowns and also threw for a score as the Badgers defeated Wake Forest 42-28 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
Wisconsin (4-3), which completed the season with back-to-back victories following a three-game skid, won despite being outgained 518-266. Other than an 11-play drive for their first points, the Badgers never had a scoring possession last more than five plays.
After a fast start, Wake Forest (4-5) fizzled under an avalanche of mistakes. Quarterback Sam Hartman was intercepted four times in a 12-pass stretch, though he threw three touchdown passes to Jaquarii Roberson.
Mertz was 11 of 17 for 130 yards and an interception in the air.
Hartman, who ended up 20-for-37 passing for 318 yards before Michael Kern took over at quarterback, threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to Roberson, covering 4 and 18 yards. But the 14-0 lead vanished in the second quarter. The Badgers scored on John Chenal’s 2-yard run before using a blocked punt prior to Mertz’s 1-yard run with 3:21 remaining in the first half, with that scoring possession needing just 9 yards.
After Hartman’s 8-yard TD pass to Roberson opened the second-half scoring, Wisconsin rattled off four touchdowns in a span of more than 14-minutes.
Mertz ran 1 yard for a touchdown and then finished the third-quarter scoring with a 14-yard pass play to Mason Stokke.
Garrett Groshek and Jalen Berger each had 1-yard scoring runs in the fourth quarter — the first of those following Scott Nelson’s interception return (on Hartman’s fourth-down pass) to the Wake Forest 2-yard line and the latter coming after Collin Wilder’s interception and 72-yard return set up the Badgers at the Wake Forest 3.
Wake Forest’s Christian Beal-Smith scored on a 1-yard run with six seconds left. He finished with 82 rushing yards on 21 carries. Roberson had 131 receiving yards on eight catches and teammate Donavon Greene posted 122 receiving yards with six receptions.
Wisconsin was making the first appearance for a Big Ten school in Charlotte’s bowl. This marked its first meeting anywhere against the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest, which played in only its second game since mid-November, finished the season on a three-game losing streak following a four-game winning string.
The Demon Deacons are 2-1 in bowl outings in Charlotte.
–Field Level Media