Nov 19, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) drops back to pass against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest-Duke rivalry extends to coaching staffs

Wake Forest and Duke have more in common than their win-loss records.

This year’s matchup brings another element to the rivalry — strong connections among members of the coaching staffs.

The teams wrap up the regular season in Saturday’s game in Durham, N.C.

While Wake Forest (7-4, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell short of returning to the ACC championship game, Duke (7-4, 4-3) has been the surprise of the league after failing to win a conference game last year.

“We still want to get better,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said, feeling better after a three-game skid ended last week when the Deacons beat visiting Syracuse on Senior Day.

A longtime assistant coach under Clawson, Duke’s first-year head coach Mike Elko rates as a leading candidate for ACC Coach of the Year.

Elko, a former defensive coordinator at Wake Forest, said he sees the Demon Deacons still evolving on defense under coordinator Brad Lambert, who returned to the position this year.

“I think you are starting to see them get more and more comfortable each week with how they want to play their scheme and play their system,” Elko said. “They play extremely hard and have the ability to get after you up front. I am really impressed with their defensive line.”

Clawson and Elko spent 12 seasons together with Elko on Clawson’s staffs at Fordham, Richmond, Bowling Green and Wake Forest.

Elko said he is not all that familiar with Wake Forest’s offensive scheme.

“I wasn’t really there when it was running the way it is running now,” Elko said. “We’ve spent a lot of time as a staff on it schematically and it is certainly different. It requires a lot of attention. It requires a lot of detail in terms of how we are going to have to execute to stop it.”

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman has thrown 104 career touchdown passes, three shy of former Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd’s ACC record.

Duke quarterback Riley Leonard has emerged as a dual threat this year.

“Sam has been in this league for a long time, and he has played a lot more football and made a lot more plays,” Elko said. “I think Riley is going to compete, he has shown that every week.”

Hartman said the Demon Deacons are aiming for a rewarding finishing stretch, saying, “It’s a lot more fun when you win and you play well.”

Duke is bound to try to expose Wake Forest’s secondary.

“When you don’t defend the deep ball well, it’s hard to breathe,” Clawson said.

Wake Forest has won three straight games in the series.

Duke will honor 32 players as part of Senior Day.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver A.T. Perry (9) makes a catch against Syracuse Orange defensive back Darian Chestnut (0) to score during the first half at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest passing duo shines to hand Syracuse fifth straight loss

Sam Hartman and A.T. Perry hooked up for three touchdowns Saturday as Wake Forest posted a 45-35 win over visiting Syracuse in Atlantic Coast Conference action from Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Demon Deacons (7-4, 3-4 ACC) snapped a three-game losing streak, due to their dynamic passing duo. Hartman finished 30 of 43 for 331 yards with four touchdowns, while Perry hauled in 10 catches for 119 yards.

Garrett Shrader went 17 of 31 for 324 yards with a passing touchdown and a rushing score for the Orange (6-5, 3-4), who have lost five straight games. Sean Tucker ran for 106 yards and two TDs on 16 carries, while LeQuint Allen caught one touchdown and passed for another.

Syracuse led 7-3 after one quarter before the teams combined for five touchdowns in the ensuing period.

Hartman got the second-quarter party started with a 12-yard pass to Perry in the right side of the end zone. Syracuse answered with a 2-yard touchdown by Tucker two minutes later and then stopped Hartman on fourth-and-1 from the 5 to regain possession.

Facing a long field, the Orange needed four plays to cover 94 yards. The punctuation mark was a 33-yard halfback pass from Allen to Devaughn Cooper for a 14-7 lead.

The Demon Deacons came right back, drawing even on Hartman’s 29-yard TD strike to Perry, who toasted his defender with a double-move. Following a missed 42-yard field goal by Syracuse, Hartman and Perry hooked up again, this time from 10 yards out with 12 seconds left in the half.

The teams exchanged punts to open the third quarter before the Wake Forest offense started heating up again. The Demon Deacons converted three third downs as part of a 12-play, 70-yard drive that Hartman capped with a 17-yard TD pass to Ke’Shawn Williams.

Wake Forest expanded its lead to 45-21 early in the fourth quarter on Quinton Cooley’s 4-yard TD plunge and Brendon Harris’ 36-yard interception return for a score 44 seconds later.

Syracuse fought back with two late touchdowns — Shrader’s 41-yard pass to Allen with 10:01 left and Shrader’s 8-yard TD scamper with 5:13 remaining — but the visitors never got any closer.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback MJ Morris (16) throws a pass during the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

MJ Morris leads No. 22 North Carolina State to win over No. 21 Wake Forest

MJ Morris, who was the third-string quarterback a few weeks ago, threw three touchdown passes as No. 22 North Carolina State defeated No. 21 Wake Forest 30-21 for a victory Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.

Darryl Jones caught two of the touchdown passes and Keyon Lesane had the other scoring catch.

ACC Preseason Player of the Year Devin Leary suffered a season-ending injury last month against Florida State. Jack Chambers became the starter for two games before Morris rescued the Wolfpack (7-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) in an Oct. 27 comeback against Virginia Tech.

NC State’s Christopher Dunn kicked field goals of 33, 51 and 25 yards. He had the game’s first and final points.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted three times. But his 29-yard, fourth-down hook-up with A.T. Perry allowed the Demon Deacons to close within 27-21 with 6:54 remaining by completing a 99-yard drive.

By the time the Demon Deacons (6-3, 2-3) got the ball back, Dunn had booted his third field goal and just 2:54 was left on the clock.

Morris was 18-for-28 for 210 yards.

Hartman finished 29-for-47 for 397 yards. The Demon Deacons, who lost their second game in a row, were held to 17 rushing yards.

Jakeem Harris intercepted Hartman in the first quarter and Cyrus Fagan and Aydan White had pickoffs in the second half.

Wake Forest moved inside the NC State 5-yard line twice, but managed just seven points. Christian Turner scored from 2 yards out on the possession following Matthew Dennis’ missed 35-yard field goal.

Morris made two touchdown throws in the last eight minutes of the first half.

He threw 12 yards to Lesane, who held onto the ball despite a brutal hit at the goal line, for the Wolfpack’s first touchdown.

Hartman hooked up with Taylor Morin for a 24-yard touchdown play 3 1/2 minutes later. Then it was Morris’ turn again, with a 13-yard pass to Jones with 1:30 to play in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Chelen Garnes (9) moves in against Boston College Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) out of bounds an a quarterback keeper  during the first quarter at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hartman’s monster day (5 TDs) carries No. 13 Wake Forest to rout

Sam Hartman threw for 313 yards and five touchdowns as No. 13 Wake Forest downed Boston College 43-15 in Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Jahmal Banks and Taylor Morin each caught two of Hartman’s touchdown tosses, helping the Demon Deacons (6-1, 2-1 ACC) earn their third straight win.

Hartman (25-for-40 passing), who also rushed for a score, found seven different receivers in the game. He leads all FBS quarterbacks with 93 career passing touchdowns.

For the Eagles (2-5, 1-4), Zay Flowers made 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown from Phil Jurkovec. The BC quarterback was 20-for-38 passing and also rushed for a score.

Both teams were coming off their bye week.

BC got off to a strong start as Jurkovec completed five of his first six passes, but his second drive stalled out inside the red zone before Connor Lytton kicked a 29-yard field goal for the game’s first points.

The hosts responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive and, after converting on 4th-and-3, took the lead on Hartman’s 15-yard connection with a leaping Banks. Hartman was 7-of-8 passing during the drive.

Morin received the signal caller’s second touchdown as a 12-yard catch completed Wake’s first series of the second quarter.

The Eagles ate up a lot of clock on an ensuing series that included a fake punt and strip sack, but in the end, Flowers caught a 61-yard score with 5:53 left in the opening half. The PAT attempt was blocked.

Wake answered quickly and made it 21-9 when A.T. Perry caught his third pass of the series, a 13-yard touchdown with 2:11 left.

Even a 3rd-and-25 couldn’t keep Wake out of the end zone on its second series of the third quarter. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Hartman’s throw to Morin set up a repeat connection from 4 yards out.

Over the final five minutes of the quarter, Jurkovec (7 yards) and Hartman (2 yards) traded red-zone scoring runs to make it 36-15.

Hartman found Banks for a 16-yard score with 7:36 left in the fourth, capping a 13-play drive.

–Field Level Media

Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) reacts after scoring during the fourth quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia Monday, September 5, 2022.

Ncaa Fb Clemson At Georgia Tech

No. 5 Clemson out to continue dominance of No. 21 Wake Forest

Fifth-ranked Clemson hasn’t defended the pass well this season and figures to see a lot of balls in the air when it battles No. 21 Wake Forest on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference play at Winston-Salem, N.C.

Clemson is looking for its 14th consecutive win over the Demon Deacons, a streak that began after a 12-7 road loss in 2008. But keeping the streak intact might necessitate an improvement in passing defense.

The Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC) are allowing just 14 points per game but are tied for 86th nationally in passing defense at 244.7 yards per game. Meanwhile, Wake Forest (3-0, 0-0) features the 10th-most prolific yardage passer in ACC history in Sam Hartman.

Clemson standout defensive end K.J. Henry, who is a native of Winston-Salem, says more players on the defensive side need to step up.

“We had some guys out (with injuries) or whatever, but we’re going to play a lot of great teams and going to have to sub a lot of people,” Henry told reporters. “And I think one of the better parts of our team and this defense is our depth. So just really pushing that when one guy is in and one guy is out, the standard stays the same.”

Hartman became Wake Forest’s all-time leader in passing yardage (9,891) during last week’s 37-36 home win over Liberty. He passed Riley Skinner (9,762 from 2006-09).

Hartman completed 26 of 44 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns against Liberty. But he also was intercepted twice and was off-the-mark on several other throws.

“We’ve seen that before in his career,” Demon Deacons coach Dave Clawson said of the fifth-year junior. “When he gets a little shaky, he usually recovers. … He kind of collects himself and gets back in the moment. He doesn’t get frustrated.”

Wake Forest is averaging 42 points per game and its other wins have come against VMI and Vanderbilt.

Clemson defeated Georgia Tech and Furman to start the campaign before posting a 48-20 win over Louisiana Tech last week. The Tigers are averaging 41.7 points per game.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t too interested in making a big deal over his squad’s unbeaten start.

“I don’t think anybody knows who anybody is right now after three ballgames,” Swinney said. “I know the rankings and all that stuff — we’re wherever, a top-5 team, but that’s all based on past success. It really is at this point. And that’s great to have some street cred if you will. You have to go earn it. So that’s what we’re in the process of trying to do.”

Tigers running back Will Shipley is off to a strong start by rushing for 249 yards and six touchdowns. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has thrown for 662 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

Clemson also is expected to have standout defensive tackle Bryan Bresee back on the field. He missed the Louisiana Tech game after his 15-year-old sister, Ella, died of brain cancer two days earlier.

Wake Forest is allowing 23.7 points per game and is receiving solid play from safety Malik Mustapha, who leads the squad with 21 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Clawson said the Demon Deacons are better on the defensive side this season despite allowing 36 points to Liberty.

“We did a lot of good things,” Clawson said. “It’s never all good and never all bad.”

The Tigers defeated visiting Wake Forest 48-27 last season when they racked up 332 yards on the ground, including 111 and two scores from Shipley. Hartman passed for 312 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Demon Deacons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) during the first quarter in the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Wake Forest at full strength to face Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt has not experienced a big-game feel in recent years, particularly in nonconference play, with that changing a bit Saturday afternoon when No. 23 Wake Forest visits for a showdown at Nashville, Tenn.

“We’re happy to be 2-0 to have a chance to play (Wake Forest),” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “Wake Forest has become a standard-bearer, winning through differentiation.”

Wake Forest (1-0) produced an 11-win season a year ago and has high expectations entering 2022. Vanderbilt (2-0) is aiming to move to a 3-0 mark for the first time since 2017.

This will be Wake Forest’s lone nonconference road game and its only road outing until October. Mitch Griffis had solid debut at quarterback for the Demon Deacons last week, but standout Sam Hartman is scheduled to return after he had a blood clot removed.

“I am just really excited to get back on the field with my teammates and compete each day to help our team get ready for Vanderbilt this Saturday in Nashville,” Hartman said in a statement after he was cleared to return to the field.

Hartman passed for 4,228 yards and 39 touchdowns in 14 games last season with 14 interceptions while completing 58.9 percent of his passes.

Wake Forest began its season last Thursday by defeating Virginia Military Institute 44-10. That gave some insight in several areas.

“We did a lot of good things, but just had too many penalties,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said. “We had five holds, two of them cost us a touchdown and the other one cost us a two-point conversion. There were just a lot of lack-of-discipline penalties that we had.”

In Saturday night’s home opener, Vanderbilt held off Elon for a 42-31 victory. There were positive elements to that outcome, but also concerns in some areas.

“There’s too much that we left on that field that certainly Wake will be set up to make us pay for,” Lea said. “We love learning from good results. I don’t want to take that away from this team. It’ll be an exciting week for this program, and we’re excited to play that game in our stadium.”

Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright rolled up big numbers vs. Elon, becoming the first player in program history to account for six touchdowns in a game. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more.

Vanderbilt wide receiver Jayden McGowan was named the Freshman of the Week in the Southeastern Conference after recording four catches for 118 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown against Elon.

Vanderbilt leads the all-time series with Wake Forest 10-6, including three consecutive wins. The Commodores won 23-21 in the last meeting in the 2013 regular-season finale, which marked the last game as coach for Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe.

Wake Forest has won nine of its last 11 games played in September.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher looks on during the first half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M out of Gator Bowl due to COVID-19 issues, injuries

No. 25 Texas A&M on Wednesday announced it has opted against competing versus No. 17 Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl, citing a combination of COVID-19 issues as well as injuries.

Gator Bowl officials are seeking a replacement to face the Demon Deacons (10-3) on Dec. 31 in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We are disappointed that Texas A&M University and the Aggie fans will be unable to represent the Southeastern Conference in Jacksonville at this year’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game,” Gator Bowl chairman John Duce said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our primary concern.”

“It is unfortunate, but we just don’t have enough scholarship players available to field a team,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Texas A&M (8-4) began the season by winning seven of its first nine games. It has since dropped two of its last three, including a 27-24 decision to LSU on Nov. 27.

“It is heartbreaking for our players, coaches, staff and fans that we are not able to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl,” Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork said. “Postseason football is the pinnacle of the season and when the opportunity is lost, it hurts on many levels. As we have learned in the last 21 months of this health challenge, the well-being and safety of our student-athletes is paramount.”

In addition, four Texas A&M underclassmen have declared for the NFL Draft and were skipping the game. The list includes guard Kenyon Green, defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, running back Isaiah Spiller and tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Also, starting quarterback Zach Calzada, who starred in the upset of then-No. 1 Alabama in October, entered the transfer portal.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) warms up before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Stakes high for No. 15 Pittsburgh, No. 16 Wake Forest in ACC title game

There should be no shortage of offense when No. 15 Pittsburgh and No. 16 Wake Forest meet in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C.

So whichever team’s defense figures out how to make an impact might turn out in the best shape in a matchup of 10-2 teams that made rapid rises this season.

Wake Forest is third nationally in scoring at 42.9 points per game. Pittsburgh is next at 42.8. This is the first ACC championship game with two teams averaging more than 40 points apiece.

“I kind of hope that we can get a few stops,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It will be hard.”

The Pittsburgh defense has improved weekly, coach Pat Narduzzi said.

“A lot of points are going to be scored,” Narduzzi said. “We’re going to try to eliminate the scoring (from Wake Forest) and try to score at least one more point than Wake Forest does.”

Pittsburgh has its first 10-win regular season since 1981. Wake Forest has reached a double-digit win total for the second time.

Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett was selected as the All-ACC first-team quarterback. Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman was the second-team choice.

“We’ve been saying every week is a championship (and) now we’re finally in the big one,” Pickett said.

With 40 touchdown throws this year, Pickett is one shy of the single-season ACC record held by former Clemson player Deshaun Watson. Teammate Jordan Addison leads the country with 17 touchdown catches.

“It’s not just (Pickett), and he’d probably be the first person to say that,” Clawson said. “But he is certainly the engine that makes them go.”

In the last nine games, Hartman has thrown for 3,020 yards and 28 touchdowns passes.

“Our secondary is going to have to be on their toes,” Narduzzi said. “They’re where they are for a reason. They do it their way. They do it the Wake Forest way.”

Pittsburgh and Wake Forest have met just once previously, the Panthers posting a 34-13 road victory in 2018 to secure the Coastal Division title that day. Pickett threw for three touchdowns in that game.

Wake Forest unseated Clemson as the Atlantic Division representative for the title game. The reason the Demon Deacons, who lost to Clemson just two weeks ago, gained that spot was a one-game difference in the standings on North Carolina State and Clemson. That margin resulted, in part, from Clemson’s loss at Pittsburgh.

Now, the stakes will be even higher.

“You certainly want to appreciate the moment you’re in,” Wake Forest linebacker Luke Masterson said. “But at the same time, you want to take that same approach you’ve taken all year.”

Clawson said having a breakout season was possible when assessing the situation in the preseason. Contending for a championship became a reality.

“That’s the goal every year,” Clawson said. “To have a year like this you have to be a little bit fortunate. That fortune comes in winning close games. I think we won those close games because of our maturity and our ability to execute.”

Wake Forest won in 2006 in its only previous appearance in the ACC title game, defeating Georgia Tech in Jacksonville, Fla. Pittsburgh’s other appearance in the championship game came in 2018, when it lost to Clemson.

Wake Forest played at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium with limited capacity to end the 2020 season with a bowl loss to Wisconsin.

–Field Level Media