Nov 25, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Mitch Griffis (12) gestures to fans prior to the game against the Syracuse Orange at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest losing two QBs to transfer portal

Wake Forest quarterbacks Mitch Griffis and Santino Marucci both announced plans to transfer on Tuesday.

They are leaving Winston-Salem, N.C., after a 4-8 season that ended the Demon Deacons’ seven-year bowl streak.

Both were redshirt sophomores in 2023 and have two seasons of eligibility remaining. Both are scheduled to graduate in May and will enter the transfer portal as graduate transfers.

Griffis completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 1,553 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine games. The team captain also rushed for 128 yards and two scores and was sacked 34 times.

“I am incredibly thankful for my four years at Wake Forest,” Griffis posted on X. “The friendships and memories I have created will last a lifetime. A special thank you to Coach (Dave) Clawson and (offensive coordinator Warren Ruggerio) for giving me an opportunity to live out my dream. I will always be a Demon Deacon.”

Mariucci started in Wake Forest’s 21-17 win over Pitt on Oct. 21. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards with one TD and one pick in three games this season.

“I want to thank Clawson & Ruggiero, the entire Wake Forest Football staff, and the extended support team,” Marucci wrote on X. “My time at Wake Forest has ended, but the memories and friendships will last a lifetime.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) exhorts the crowd in the fourth quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest coach upset with Notre Dame sendoff for Sam Hartman

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson is not the least bit happy about the manner in which Notre Dame serenaded quarterback Sam Hartman during Saturday’s matchup between the schools.

It was the final home game in South Bend, Ind., for Hartman, less than three months after he played his first contest for the Fighting Irish.

“(Notre Dame) bought him and rented him for a year, and now they love him?” Clawson said at his Wednesday press conference.

Hartman became a star quarterback at Wake Forest and spent five seasons at the school before transferring to Notre Dame for this season and raking in NIL money. He passed for 12,967 yards, 110 touchdowns and 41 interceptions for the Demon Deacons.

While Clawson understands the rules now in place, he wasn’t the least impressed with the way Notre Dame flaunted his former quarterback during the Irish’s 45-7 whipping of Wake Forest.

“Here’s a guy we recruited and we developed, and they are putting on a video of him, saying ‘We will always love you,’ ” Clawson said. “I’m like, ‘you only dated him for a couple of months. It can’t be love.’ We are the ones who love him. We had five years with him. You rented him for a season.

“They bought him and rented him for a year, and now they love him. When that video played, it’s just like, ‘holy cow, this is where college football is.’ ”

Hartman has passed for 2,549 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season for Notre Dame.

Clawson said he has no ill will towards Hartman, who passed for 277 yards and four touchdowns.

“Sam and I had a great discussion before the game and after the game, and I love the young man. I really do,” Clawson said. “I don’t blame him at all for what he did. That’s the system now. For him to have the opportunity to have that experience, and make that type of money in one year, who can fault him?”

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Syracuse Orange running back LeQuint Allen (1) is pressured by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Trenilyas Tatum (7) in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After firing, Syracuse eyes bowl eligibility vs. Wake Forest

Dino Babers finally ran out of chances at Syracuse, and Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson might not be far behind.

Six days after firing their coach, the Orange will host the Demon Deacons on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Babers posted two winning seasons in eight years at Syracuse and just watched his team collapse following a 4-0 start in non-conference action. The Orange (5-6, 1-6 ACC) have lost six of seven games since then and are coming off a 31-22 defeat at Georgia Tech last Saturday.

That loss proved to be the final straw for Babers, who was relieved of his duties Sunday. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile was named interim coach and will try to get Syracuse into a bowl game, which it will be eligible for with a win against Wake Forest.

Nevertheless, the school felt it was time for a change.

“What the exit really boils down to is November. We’ve not had the success in November,” Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said Monday.

The Demon Deacons (4-7, 1-6) are looking to end the season on a high note, having dropped seven of their last eight after a 3-0 start. They were trounced 45-7 by Notre Dame last Saturday and have scored 21 points or less in eight straight contests.

Still, Clawson — who is wrapping up his 10th season with the team — is holding his head high.

“I think our guys played hard, and I can’t fault their effort,” Clawson said. “We have one more week to play as a team. I’m really impressed with the way these guys have stuck together and they continue to practice hard and give effort.”

Michael Kern made his first career start in the loss to Notre Dame and went 11 of 20 for 81 yards without a touchdown or an interception.

Syracuse has quarterback questions of its own, as Garrett Shrader (upper-body injury) has been severely limited in recent weeks, forcing the Orange to adopt a creative wildcat offense in which running back LeQuint Allen and tight end Dan Villari have taken the bulk of the snaps.

The Demon Deacons have won the last three matchups against the Orange, including a 45-35 win in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hartman, No. 19 Notre Dame pick apart Wake Forest

Sam Hartman threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns and No. 19 Notre Dame pulled away for a 45-7 win against visiting Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

Hartman, a transfer from Wake Forest, completed 21 of 29 passes without a turnover against his former team. He was intercepted seven times in his previous four games.

Audric Estime led the Notre Dame ground attack with 115 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown.

Rico Flores Jr. caught eight passes for 102 yards. Tobias Merriweather, Eli Raridon, Devyn Ford, Jaden Greathouse and Jordan Faison each hauled in touchdown passes for the Fighting Irish (8-3).

Wake Forest quarterback Michael Kern completed 11 of 20 passes for 80 yards, and running back Justice Ellison had 63 yards on 15 carries.

The Fighting Irish scored on their third possession when Hartman hit a wide-open Ford out of the backfield for a 12-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

Wake Forest (4-7) used two trick plays on their next drive to set up its only touchdown of the game.

Jahmal Banks completed a 17-yard double pass to Ke’Shawn Williams and Williams later ran the ball 20 yards instead of attempting another double pass, moving the ball inside the Notre Dame 10-yard line.

One play later, Tate Carney scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to tie it 7-7 with 11:41 left in the half.

Hartman found Merriweather deep over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown, moving the Fighting Irish ahead 14-7 with 7:06 left in the half.

After blocking a 30-yard field goal try by the Demon Deacons, Notre Dame moved ahead 17-7 on Spencer Shrader’s 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

The Fighting Irish recovered a fumble on the opening drive of the second half and quickly capitalized on Raridon’s 19-yard touchdown reception to make it 24-7.

Notre Dame didn’t take advantage after recovering the ensuing onside kick, but quickly got the ball back after stopping the Demon Deacons on downs. Estime scored on a 2-yard run to make it 31-7 with 5:22 left in the third quarter.

Greathouse sprung loose for a 48-yard catch and run to extend the lead to 38-7 with 13:24 remaining in the game.

Steve Angeli took over for Hartman and hit Faison for a 17-yard score to make it 45-7 with 3:56 left.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) tries to outrun Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Malik Mustapha (3) during the first half at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong returns as QB, leads NC State past Wake Forest

Brennan Armstrong was back as North Carolina State’s starting quarterback and he made time in that role count by throwing and rushing for touchdowns in the Wolfpack’s 26-6 road victory against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Armstrong had been a backup for the previous four games as MJ Morris was at the controls, but Morris’ decision to sit out the rest of the season to qualify for a redshirt thrust Armstrong, a graduate transfer from Virginia, back into the starting position.

Armstrong completed 12 of 17 passes for 111 yards and rushed for 96 yards on 15 attempts.

The Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third straight game. It marked just the second NC State victory in Winston-Salem in the last 11 trips to its in-state rival.

Morris was 3-1 as a starter this year before the midweek revelation that he has opted to take a redshirt season. Another game played would have put him over the maximum number of games permitted to preserve a redshirt season.

Wake Forest (4-6, 1-6) has dropped three in a row and six of its last seven games.

Wake Forest tried quarterbacks Mitch Griffis and Michael Kern. The Demon Deacons avoided a shutout when Kern’s fourth-down pass was caught by diving receiver Deuce Alexander for a 19-yard touchdown with 7:15 remaining. Even that thrill lasted only so long because Jaylon Scott intercepted a two-point conversion pass and raced 100 yards for a two-point defensive conversion.

NC State went 84 in three plays for the game’s first points on Armstrong’s 20-yard pass to Julian Gray. The big play was KC Concepcion’s possession-opening 65-yard run on a reverse.

The Wolfpack were up 14-0 early in the second quarter. Armstrong plowed into the end zone on a fourth-down run from 1 yard out.

Armstrong’s 38-yard run to the Wake Forest 1 set up Delbert Mimms III’s 1-yard plunge for a 21-0 lead.

The Wolfpack’s only second-half points on offense came when NC State turned Sean Brown’s interception and 33-yard return into Brayden Narveson’s 45-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Durham, North Carolina, USA;  Duke Blue Devils quarterback Grayson Loftis (12) hands off the ball to  wide receiver Quran Boyd (17) against the Lafayette Leopards during the second half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Duke rallies past Wake Forest on last-second field goal

Todd Pelino’s 26-yard field goal as time expired gave Duke a 24-21 victory against visiting Wake Forest on Thursday night in Durham, N.C.

That was the only lead of the game for Duke (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which snapped a two-game losing streak and became bowl-eligible despite using a third-string quarterback.

Grayson Loftis was 7-for-19 for 86 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but he helped the Blue Devils on their final drive.

Ryan Smith’s interception with 4:12 left gave the Blue Devils a chance to drive for the winning points. The final drive was aided by two penalties, including a third-down pass interference call on Wake Forest (4-5, 1-5).

Wake Forest quarterback Mitch Griffis was 16-for-19 for 241 yards with an interception. Demond Claiborne rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries.

Griffis scrambled 5 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put Wake Forest ahead.

Duke tied it at 21-21l with 11:40 remaining on Loftis’ 29-yard throw to Jordan Moore.

Duke was without standout quarterback Riley Leonard and normal second-string QB Henry Belin IV, both out with injuries.

Griffis was 8-for-8 in the first half, but the score was 14-14 at halftime.

Duke pulled even with one minute to play in the first half on Jordan Waters’ 4-yard run.

Wake Forest’s Tate Carney ran 3 yards for the opening points. Wake Forest had a chance to build the lead when a fumble by Duke on the ensuing possession gave the ball back at the Blue Devils’ 15. Matthew Dennis missed a 27-yard field goal.

Duke pulled even on the second play of the second quarter when Jaquez Moore ran 32 yards for a touchdown. Moore had all 60 yards on the drive, needing just three plays to cover that ground.

Wake Forest reached the Duke 25 before Carney was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 carry. But Quincy Bryant intercepted a pass by Lofts, who was hit as he threw, on the next snap.

Wake Forest took over at the Duke 22, with Griffis running 8 yards for a touchdown four plays later.

Dennis missed again, this time from 39 yards, to end Wake Forest’s first possession of the second half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Duke coach seeks response when Wake Forest visits

Duke has been put in several situations to showcase its overall improvements this season.

Now comes a game against visiting Wake Forest where getting back on track will be the main storyline.

Having lost three of their last four, the Blue Devils will face the Demon Deacons in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Thursday in Durham, N.C.

“I have to put these guys in better positions to be successful because we don’t have much time,” Duke coach Mike Elko said. “I believe that we will respond.”

Duke (5-3, 2-2 ACC) has fallen out of the national rankings after holding spots in the polls since conquering Clemson in its first game of the season. More recently, the Blue Devils have dropped games to nationally ranked Notre Dame, Florida State and Louisville — with that trio now all in the top 15 nationally.

Wake Forest (4-4, 1-4) has lost four of its last five games, the exception being a comeback to upend Pitt in the final seconds two games ago.

“The fight is always going to be there,” Wake Forest defensive back Malik Mustapha said.

For a team that reached the 2021 ACC championship game and was expected to contend last year, there has been a drop-off for the Demon Deacons.

“We have a lot of hard work to do to get back to that level,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Clawson said the Demon Deacons wouldn’t dwell on Saturday’s 41-16 home loss to Florida State.

“We have to get past this one and get ready for a game against an in-state rival on the road,” he said.

Duke’s offense has been out of sorts since an ankle injury to quarterback Riley Leonard. He has started the past two games, but mobility appears to be an issue. The quick turnaround for this game might not help matters.

“We’re moving on to the next one and will get it figured out before Thursday,” Duke receiver Jordan Moore said.

Wake Forest has had injuries at quarterback as well. Mitch Griffis returned to action against the Seminoles after sitting out the Pitt game.

Elko is a former defensive coordinator from 2014-16 under Clawson at Wake Forest. His first Duke team beat the Demon Deacons a year ago.

This year’s matchup between in-state rivals is in Durham for the second season in a row after a reconfiguration of the conference schedule when the league nixed a divisional set-up. Duke won 34-31 last year in the regular-season finale for both teams.

This is Duke’s only home game amid a five-game stretch.

–Field Level Media

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis (13) runs out of bounds. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Duke Blue Devils 38-20 on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.

No. 4 Florida State puts perfect mark on line at Wake Forest

No. 4 Florida State aims to keep its unbeaten streak rolling on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., when it opposes Wake Forest.

The Seminoles (7-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are coming off a 38-20 home win over then-No. 16 Duke. It wasn’t easy though, as Florida State trailed by double digits early in the second quarter. The Seminoles outscored the Blue Devils 21-0 in the fourth to close out the win.

While Florida State is aiming for a spot in the College Football Playoff, Wake Forest (4-3, 1-3) is simply trying to go bowling for the eighth consecutive season in Dave Clawson’s 10 years at the helm. The Demon Deacons are coming off their first conference victory of the season, a 21-17 nail-biter against visiting Pitt. Wake Forest scored the go-ahead touchdown — a 15-yard pass from Santino Marucci to Cameron Hite — with seven seconds left.

The win against the Panthers was Marucci’s first career start at quarterback. A year ago, he played quarterback, running back and safety. He completed 12 of 21 passes vs. Pitt for 151 yards and threw two picks, but when the game hung in the balance, he made the plays necessary for the Demon Deacons.

“Santino was backpedaling, playing safety a year ago,” Clawson said. “We went into this and we said, ‘Let’s put this on the O-line, let’s put this on the backs, let’s give him some quick screens, maybe some play-action bootlegs.’ And then, at the end of the game, we had to let him play.”

Marucci entered this season as Wake Forest’s third-string quarterback. He was thrust into action against Pitt due to injuries to starter Mitch Griffis and backup Michael Kern.

It’s unclear who will start for Wake Forest against Florida State, but Seminoles coach Mike Norvell is preparing for Griffis to step back in under center and to be the orchestrator of Clawson’s signature offensive scheme.

“We’ll plan for (Griffis) and be able to adjust to whatever shows up and whatever the situation is,” Norvell said. “They’ve got talented receivers. What they do schematically offensively is really tough, just with the slow mesh read, it’s something that’s unique to their program (and) is really unique to college football and how they operate it.”

Meanwhile, Wake Forest’s defense will have to prepare to face Florida State’s Jordan Travis, who has played like one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season. Travis is tied for the ACC lead in touchdowns-responsible-for with 20, and he is second in the conference in passing efficiency rating with a mark of 153.4. He leads an offense that takes care of the ball with just 0.6 turnovers per game.

Against Duke, Travis threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while also rushing for 62 yards and a score.

“I thought Jordan was remarkable,” Norvell said of Travis’ play vs. the Blue Devils. “Especially in the second half, really just did a wonderful job with his arms, legs, decision-making and all things.”

Travis is 0-2 in his career against Wake Forest. Florida State hasn’t beaten the Demon Deacons since 2018 but still owns the series with a 30-9-1 record.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  A Pittsburgh Panthers helmet on the sidelines against the Louisville Cardinals during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest caps wild final moments by beating Pitt

Cameron Hite caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Santino Marucci with seven seconds left as Wake Forest pulled out a 21-17 victory against Pitt in a wild final stretch at Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored two touchdowns and threw an interception in an improbable final 3:02 in halting a three-game losing streak.

Christian Veilleux threw 22 yards to Bub Means with 1:30 left and Pitt (2-5, 1-3) appeared ready to escape. When M.J. Devonshire intercepted Marucci at the Pitt 28, the Panthers were in good shape.

But Veilleux’s third-down run for an apparent first down turned disastrous for the Panthers when it was determined Veilleux began his slide at the Pitt 16, 1 yard short of the first-down mark. A punt followed and the Demon Deacons converted quickly for the winning points.

Demond Claiborne’s 42-yard touchdown run with 3:02 left lifted Wake Forest into a 14-10 lead. Claiborne finished with 96 rushing yards on 14 carries.

Wake Forest had 323 yards of total offense, but 89 of those came on the first scoring drive of the fourth-quarter.

The game marked the debut at quarterback for Marucci, a third-stringer and redshirt sophomore who was in a starting role because of injuries to two teammates.

Ben Sauls’ 41-yard field goal with 13:03 to play put the Panthers up 10-7. That came following Phillip O’Brien Jr.’s interception late in the third quarter.

On its next possession, Wake Forest drove to the Pitt 32-yard line but gave the ball back after coming up short on a fourth-and-2 run.

Pitt’s C’Bo Flemister ran for 105 yards on 23 carries and Veilleux threw for 302 yards.

Wake Forest quarterbacks Mitch Griffis (undisclosed), who started the first six games, and Michael Kern (shoulder) were not in uniform because of injuries.

The rematch of the 2021 ACC championship game pitted two teams that have largely struggled this year. The Panthers lost for the first time in three games all-time against the Demon Deacons.

Veilleux threw 7 yards to Kenny Johnson as the Panthers scored on the game’s opening possession.

Wake Forest, which generated little on offense, suddenly came through by going 55 yards in two plays (plus a 15-yard facemask penalty on the defense) to pull even with 1:32 left in the half. Claiborne ran 18 yards for the touchdown.

Wake Forest had 125 yards of total offense through three quarters. Pitt was at 262.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Kyron Drones (1) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Kyron Drones guides Virginia Tech past slumping Wake Forest

Kyron Drones threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns and Virginia Tech’s defense stood firm in a 30-13 victory against visiting Wake Forest on Saturday at Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech (3-4, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) held Wake Forest to 262 yards of total offense to win for the second time in three weeks.

Drones, who completed 20 of 29 passes, was also the game’s top rusher with 59 yards. Both of his TD passes went to Jaylin Lane, who had 102 receiving yards.

Starting quarterback Mitch Griffis of Wake Forest was 6-for-11 for 27 yards with an interception before being replaced by Michael Kern, though Griffis returned late in the game. Griffis finished 8 of 17 for 77 yards and the pick.

The Demon Deacons (3-3, 0-3) have lost three games in a row despite Kern’s 166 passing yards on 14-for-22 accuracy.

After a dizzying second-quarter stretch of offense, there were no second-half touchdowns for either team until Drones threw for a 12-yard score to Lane with 2:47 remaining.

The Hokies held a 20-10 lead on John Love’s 26-yard field goal in the final minute of the third quarter.

Wake Forest countered on Matthew Dennis’ 34-yarder at the end of a 60-yard drive. Love’s 36-yarder re-established a 10-point cushion with 8:06 remaining in regulation.

Kerns lost a fumble when sacked before the Hokies drove 53 yards for the clinching touchdown.

The Demon Deacons had only 184 yards of total offense through three quarters. They finished with 19 rushing yards.

Neither team scored in the first quarter and then they combined for 27 points in the second quarter. That included 17 points in a 24-second span.

The Hokies went up on Bhayshul Tuten’s 3-yard run. It was 10-0 after Love’s 37-yard field goal.

Wake Forest responded right way on Demond Claiborne’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Virginia Tech was just about as efficient because on the next snap, Drones threw to Jaylin Lane for a 75-yard touchdown play.

Wake Forest capped the first-half scoring on Dennis’ 28-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in the half.

–Field Level Media