Nov 25, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Schrader (6) drops back to pass against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Shrader shines as Syracuse tops Wake Forest

Garrett Shrader had three touchdown passes and a rushing score Saturday as Syracuse topped visiting Wake Forest 35-31 in the regular-season finale for both Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

In its first game since firing coach Dino Babers, Syracuse (6-6, 2-6 ACC) gained bowl eligibility under the guidance of interim coach Nunzio Campanile. Jason Simmons Jr. intercepted Demon Deacons quarterback Michael Kern in the end zone with two minutes left to essentially clinch the victory.

Shrader finished 10 of 15 for 173 yards with 46 more yards on the ground. Orange tight end Dan Villari caught a touchdown and passed for a score, while Damien Alford had 126 receiving yards and caught two TDs and LeQuint Allen ran for 144 yards.

Kern went 17 of 24 for 261 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for Wake Forest (4-8, 1-7). Taylor Morin caught seven passes for 140 yards, while Wesley Grimes had two TD grabs.

The Orange opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on Shrader’s 35-yard pass to Alford. The Demon Deacons answered promptly as Kern’s 48-yard pass to Morin set up a 16-yard pass to Grimes to draw the visitors even.

Shrader’s 1-yard TD plunge early in the second quarter regained a 14-7 lead for Syracuse. However, Wake Forest drove down the field for a 36-yard field goal by Tyler Black.

The Orange had a chance to extend their advantage in the waning seconds of the first half, but Shrader hit Allen inbounds, short of the end zone, and the remaining seconds ticked off.

Early in the third quarter, Villari threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Alford, who got behind the defense for a 21-10 advantage.

Justice Ellison’s 2-yard TD run got Wake Forest within four points, but Syracuse restored an 11-point cushion on Villari’s one-handed touchdown grab from Shrader early in the fourth.

On the next Wake Forest play, Kern hit Morin for 59 yards, setting up his 16-yard scoring strike to Jahmal Banks on the next snap.

The teams exchanged touchdowns again later in the fourth – Shrader’s 37-yard pass to Umari Hatcher, followed by Kern’s 9-yard TD pass to Grimes – setting up the exciting finish.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) throws the ball against Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter of their game at Notre Dame Stadium.

No. 19 Notre Dame limps into meeting with Wake Forest

While the hopes of playing for a national championship evaporated weeks ago, No. 19 Notre Dame still believes it has plenty to play for on Saturday afternoon against visiting Wake Forest at South Bend, Ind.

“We have a shot to send the seniors out the right way,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said in advance of the final home game of the season. “That’s our motivation. We know Wake Forest will be motivated. This team will be ready to go. They will come in knowing they have to win to become bowl eligible. We know we have a challenge in front of us.”

The challenge not only will come from Wake Forest, but also replacing several key players who are sidelined with injuries.

Notre Dame (7-3) most recently lost players on the offensive line during a 31-23 loss at Clemson on Saturday.

Rocco Spindler went down with a knee injury and the right guard is out for the season. Starting center Zeke Correll is in concussion protocol and his backup, Andrew Kristofic, went down with a high ankle sprain.

Billy Schrauth is expected to start at guard against Wake Forest and Ashton Craig will remain at center after finishing Saturday’s game.

“Ashton Craig did a really good job filling in at the center position,” Freeman said. “I was really impressed with what he did.”

The Fighting Irish lost safety Luke Talich to a broken collarbone during practice last week, while wide receivers Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas and Matt Salerno remain sidelined.

Complicating things even more for Notre Dame is the slow mesh offensive system that the Demon Deacons run, a complicated system of run-pass options that can leave a defense spinning.

“How do you defend it?” Freeman said. “Linebackers attack and then create open areas behind you. They are really good to answer when you react to their system. It’s not the triple option, but it’s a system and they have answers. We have to be aggressive though and that is important.”

Wake Forest (4-6) got off to a promising 3-0 start but has dropped six of its last seven games. The Demon Deacons most recently fell to visiting North Carolina State, 26-6 on Saturday.

“It was not even a competitive football game,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It’s on me. It’s Game 10 and to show up like that is very disappointing.”

Wake Forest switched quarterbacks in the second quarter last week and Michael Kern led the Demon Deacons to their only touchdown, but he was then picked off on the two-point try and that was returned for two points the other way.

The rushing attack was even more shackled, as Wake Forest combined for seven net yards on 18 carries.

“On offense, right now, we’re broken,” Clawson said. “This isn’t anything like the offense that was put out there the last six years. I should have had us in a better spot with some of the personnel losses we had. We’re not getting the most out of these guys. I think we have good players, but they’re not playing well and it all boils down to coaching.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren encourages his team as they warm up prior to a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State looks to ride momentum vs. struggling Wake Forest

North Carolina State has done some heavy lifting in the past couple of weeks, and there’s little room for a slip-up.

The Wolfpack visit struggling Wake Forest in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday at Winston-Salem, N.C.

NC State (6-3, 3-2) has won back-to-back home games against Clemson and Miami, and those victories have allowed the Wolfpack to stay in the race for the second spot in the ACC championship game. (Florida State is in first place in the conference at 7-0.)

“Looking forward to what’s next,” coach Dave Doeren said. “We put ourselves in a good position with three games to play.”

Wake Forest (4-5, 1-5) must win two of its final three games to reach bowl eligibility. This is the Demon Deacons’ home finale before trips to Notre Dame and Syracuse.

The Demon Deacons have lost five of their last six. Wake Forest never trailed until the final play in a 24-21 loss last Thursday at Duke.

“You’ve got to emphasize the positive, fix the negative,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “I’m glad we have an extra day or two. That one hurts. That one really stings, but that’s the job.”

The Demon Deacons have experienced offensive doldrums and dealt with injuries at quarterback. Inconsistencies surfaced at Duke.

“We had some turnovers in the second half, which is a shame because that was one of the better offensive performances that we’ve had in quite a while,” Clawson said. “But we couldn’t finish drives, we didn’t convert short yardage, we missed a couple of field goals.”

Mitch Griffis led the way for Wake with 241 yards passing, completing 16 of 19 throws.

NC State, meanwhile, has been stingy on defense in its last two games. The 20-6 victory against Miami last Saturday followed a 24-17 win over Clemson.

“If we stay on that page, if everybody has that mentality of ‘I want to make every single play,’ you can’t go wrong,” Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson said. “Everybody’s flying to the ball. Everybody’s doing their job and not pressing.”

NC State should be on full alert, having lost in its past three trips to Winston-Salem.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Clawson said. “It’s in November. You want to play with emotion, but you don’t want to play emotional.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis (13) hands off the ball to running back Rodney Hill (29) during the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Florida State blows past Wake Forest 41-16

Jordan Travis threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as No. 4 Florida State kept its unbeaten record intact and bulldozed its way to a 41-16 win over host Wake Forest at Winston-Salem, N.C., on Saturday afternoon.

Travis completed 22-of-35 passes for a season-high 359 yards and also rushed seven times for 29 yards for the Seminoles (8-0, 6-0 ACC).

Trey Benson provided a big boost to the FSU offense, rushing 10 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also catching four passes for 100 yards and a score. Keon Coleman caught Travis’ other two scoring strikes as part of a seven-catch, 66-yard effort.

Coleman and Benson provided fireworks too. Benson’s receiving touchdown was a short pass that he took 80 yards to the end zone, and one of Coleman’s scoring catches was a one-handed grab.

Wake Forest (4-4, 1-14 ACC) ran the ball 49 times, but didn’t have much success on the ground with 2.6 yards per carry. Justice Ellison paced the attack with 77 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Demon Deacons quarterback Mitch Griffis returned under-center, but was largely ineffective, completing 6 of 16 passes for 82 yards.

Florida State got on the scoreboard quickly, starting the game with a nine-play, 75-yard drive in its opening series that ended with Travis scampering 13 yards for a touchdown.

After an FSU field goal, Wake scored its lone touchdown of the first half following a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Ke’Shawn Williams finding the end zone on a 2-yard run.

The Seminoles then scored 24 straight points to build a 34-7 halftime cushion.

Wake Forest had a Matthew Dennis field goal and scored another touchdown in the third quarter, on a Tate Carney rush from 2 yards out, but never got closer than 18 points of Florida State’s lead.

FSU’s victory snapped a three-game winning streak for Wake Forest in the series. It is also the first time since 2017 that the Seminoles have won at Winston-Salem.

The Seminoles played without wideout Johnny Wilson.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Christian Veilleux (11) warms up before the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt rides momentum from upset win into matchup with Wake

Pitt made a quarterback change and it worked out, at least for the short term.

Wake Forest might go down that path.

The teams meet Saturday at Winston-Salem, N.C., looking for upticks as they begin the second half of their schedules.

Pitt (2-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has tried something new, and that could be a winning formula after a dismal opening month of the season.

“We talk about playing together and staying together,” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said. “That’s who our guys are. Gave us a little fuel for the second half of the season.”

Christian Veilleux is the new first-string quarterback and he threw for two touchdowns as the Panthers beat then-No. 14 Louisville 38-21 on Saturday. The victory snapped Pitt’s four-game skid.

Veilleux, a transfer from Penn State, completed 12 of 26 passes for 200 yards in his first career start.

“He made plays when needed to. Our receivers made plays,” Narduzzi said. “Our offensive line did a great job, did a good job protecting him.”

Wake Forest (3-3, 0-3) will try to avoid its first four-game losing streak in a single season since 2015.

“I know our locker room and I know our team,” Wake Forest receiver Taylor Morin said. “We’re going to fight.”

That could come with a new starting quarterback, though more on that topic probably won’t be clear until later in the week.

Wake Forest starting QB Mitch Griffis was pulled during the Demon Deacons’ 30-13 loss to Virginia Tech last week. Michael Kern, who left late in the game with an injury, came in and didn’t generate much more success, but coach Dave Clawson believed the Demon Deacons needed a spark.

“We’re going to take a hard look at what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with and give our guys a better chance of competing,” Clawson said.

Pitt won the last meeting, beating Wake Forest 45-21 in the ACC championship game in 2021. The Panthers also beat the Demon Deacons 34-13 in Winston-Salem in 2018 in the only other previous matchup.

In the past four seasons, Wake Forest has lost just three games in October — and two of those setbacks have come this year.

The teams have something in common — both have lost road games to Virginia Tech this season. The Panthers are 0-2 in road games.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) throws a pass against the Florida State Seminoles during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson looks to take care of business vs. Wake Forest

Clemson will look to even its conference record when it welcomes visiting Wake Forest to town for an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Saturday.

The Tigers (3-2, 1-2 ACC) notched their first league win and quieted some of their detractors with a 31-14 victory at Syracuse last weekend.

“When you’re Clemson and (have) the amount of criticism and noise that these kids have to deal with, I’m proud of how they responded,” said Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, whose team opened the ACC slate with losses to Duke and Florida State.

Wake Forest (3-1, 0-1) has its own issues to sort out but had some time to do so. The Demon Deacons were off last week after falling 30-16 at home to Georgia Tech in their ACC opener on Sept. 23.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said the open week came at an ideal time.

“We’ve got to heal up, get healthy, have to evaluate what we’re doing, and we’ve got to fix our mistakes,” Clawson said. “Because if you keep doing this, it’s going to be a long next two months.”

Turnovers have hurt the Demon Deacons. They had five giveaways against Georgia Tech.

“We’re not going to beat anybody if we turn it over three times, let alone five times,” Clawson said.

This game presents Clemson with a chance to build momentum. Quarterback Cade Klubnik was praised for good decision-making against Syracuse, finishing 23-of-37 passing for 263 yards, two scores and no picks. Tyler Brown caught nine passes for 153 yards against the Orange.

The Tigers have thrown 137 consecutive passes without an interception.

“He’s just growing and growing and growing,” Swinney said of Klubnik.

Clemson running back Will Shipley continues to climb the program’s all-time charts. He’s now in ninth place in total touchdowns (30) after rushing for one against Syracuse.

Two injured Tigers players, receiver Antonio Williams and cornerback Nate Wiggins, could return to action after not making the trip to Syracuse.

Clemson has won 14 consecutive meetings with Wake Forest, including a 51-45 victory in double-overtime last season. The Tigers have a 70-17-1 lead in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; Norfolk, Virginia, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Mitch Griffis (12) fumbles the ball while being tackled by Old Dominion Monarchs defensive end Amorie Morrison (4) and linebacker EJ Green (24) during the second quarter at Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest opens ACC slate with test from Georgia Tech

So many things have gone well for Wake Forest this season but the Demon Deacons know they aren’t perfect.

“We have a lot to work on, but it’s always easier to do that after you find a way to win,” coach Dave Clawson said.

Clawson and Wake Forest open Athletic Coast Conference play against visiting Georgia Tech on Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Wake Forest (3-0) rallied from 17 points down to win its road opener 27-24 on Saturday at Old Dominion.

Georgia Tech (1-2, 0-1 ACC) hasn’t enjoyed that level of success. The Yellow Jackets lost 48-23 at Mississippi on Saturday.

“The biggest thing is we have to take the mistakes and make the corrections,” Georgia Tech coach Brent Key said. “We’ve got a conference opponent and we have to go on the road game again and take the things we’ve learned.”

One thing the Yellow Jackets might have deciphered from their early games — newfound success throwing the ball. Quarterback Haynes King completed 28 of 41 passes last week.

That marked the most completions in a game without an interception for a Georgia Tech quarterback in 21 years.

“We’ve got to keep everybody together,” King said. “You can’t flinch.”

Quarterback Mitch Griffis will make his first start in an ACC game for Wake Forest. He has completed 61.9 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions this season. There have been uneven stretches.

“He’s an inexperienced quarterback and this is a growth process,” Clawson said. “The bottom line is he made plays at the end of the game to help us win the (Old Dominion) game.”

Wake Forest’s defense recorded 10 sacks in the Old Dominion game.

Georgia Tech wasn’t called for a penalty and didn’t commit a turnover at Ole Miss.

“There’s a lot of progress,” Key said. “We challenge the players before the game to weather the storms, weather the ups and downs.”

The Yellow Jackets’ visit to Winston-Salem is their first since 2010. Wake Forest has won 22 of its last 26 home games.

–Field Level Media

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