Wake Forest opens season with 41-13 win over Baylor

Aug. 28, 2008

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WACO, Texas -- Backed by a stifling defense and a strong day from quarterback Riley Skinner, No. 23 ranked Wake Forest opened the 2008 season with an impressive 41-13 victory over Baylor.

Skinner threw three touchdown passes on the night, setting a new career-high. He also became the Deacon's all-time wins leader as a starting quarterback with 19.

Skinner ended the night 27-of-36 for 220 yards moving into eighth all-time in school history with 24 career touchdown passes.

A sluggish first half saw Wake Forest (1-0) take a 20-6 lead into the locker room, but Skinner threw a pair of third quarter touchdown passes to push the lead to 34-6 and all but put the game out of reach for Baylor (0-1).

Defensively, senior Aaron Curry was all over the field, leading the Deacs with seven stops including 1.5 tackles for a loss and half of a sack. Hunter Haynes and Stanley Arnoux each had five tackles while senior cornerback Alphonso Smith snagged his 15th career interception to go along with his three stops.

Senior Ben Wooster led the receiving corps with six grabs for 90 yards and a touchdown. Fellow senior D.J. Boldin had a team-high seven catches for 33 yards while Chip Brinkman had three receptions including a pair of touchdown grabs. Redshirt sophomore Marshall Williams had three catches, all for first downs and fellow redshirt sophomore Devon Brown made his first two career catches.

For Baylor, true freshman Robert Griffin was 11-of-19 for 125 yards. He was also the team's top rusher with 11 rushes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Jay Finley had ten carries for 22 yards.

Wake Forest out gained the Bears 376 to 250 while the Wake defense held Baylor to just 94 yards on the ground. The Deacs were 7-of-14 on third down conversions compared to Baylor's 2-for-12 and the Deacs also held a 23-15 advantage in first downs. Each team had four fumbles with Baylor losing three and Wake just two.

The Deacons wasted little time in getting on the board as they scored on each of their first three possessions.

After holding Baylor to a three-and-out on its first possession, the Deacs got good field position after a short punt. The drive would stall after a first down and senior Sam Swank put the first points of the season on the board with a 40-yard field goal just 2:41 into the game.

Another three-and-out by the Wake defense gave the ball back to the offense. Skinner led the Deacs on a 12-play 62-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown strike from Skinner to Brinkman. Brinkman's first-career touchdown reception put the Deacs up 10-0 with 7:00 minutes left in the first quarter.

Baylor picked up its first firstdown of the game but Kirby Freeman's next pass went through Jay Finley's hands and right into the waiting arms of Alphonso Smith Smith's interception pulled him to within two interceptions of the school record, held by Ronnie Burgess and A.J. Greene with 17.

The Deacons took over on the Baylor 48 and proceeded to march down field and put the ball in the endzone for the second time, making the score 17-0. Marshall, Wooster and Boldin all made key grabs on the drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by redshirt sophomore Brandon Pendergrass on the second play of the second quarter. The touchdown was the first-career trip to paydirt for Pendergrass as true freshmen guard Joe Rooney had a nice block that paved the way.

Pendergrass ended the game with 34 yards on 14 carries. Josh Adams, the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year, also ran the ball 14 times for 34 yards and a touchdown on the night.

The momentum seemed to swing Baylor's way midway through the second quarter as Williams made a six-yard grab but was stripped of the ball and Baylor recovered on the Wake 46. Griffin hit Finley on a 15-yard pass and then had a nifty 22-yard run to set the Bears up with a 1st and 10 on the Wake Forest 12-yard line. Jacoby Jones then took the ball right up the middle on the next play for Baylor's first touchdown of the night. A missed extra point made the score 17-6 in favor of the Deacs with 2:54 to go in the half.

Skinner led the 2-minute offense to perfection, connecting with Boldin a couple of times on the drive. Swank capped the drive with a 42-yard field to give the Deacs a 20-6 lead that they would take into the half. Swank was a perfect 2-for-2 in field goal attempts on the night, adding to his school record 297 points.

Skinner was 18-of-24 for 129 yards and one touchdown in the first half while the Deacs were 5-of-8 on third down conversions compared to Baylor's 1-for-7.

The second half started sour for both teams as each traded fumbles on its opening possessions. Adams dropped the ball on the first play of the second half but Boo Robinson fell on the Finley fumble two plays later to even the slate.

After the Deacs' drive stalled, Swank`s punt was downed at the Baylor 4-yard line. Two plays later, Haynes recovered a second Baylor fumble and the Deacs were once again in business at the Baylor 12-yard line.

Skinner wasted little time taking advantage of the prime field position, finding Brinkman in the back of the endzone for the combo's second touchdown strike of the evening. Wake Forest opened up a 27-6 lead with seven and a half minutes to play in the third quarter.

Five minutes later, Skinner found a wide-open Wooster down the right sideline for a 43-yard touchdown to push the lead out to 34-6.

Baylor, still fighting, put together its best drive of the night, covering 76 yards on 12 plays in 5:25 that was capped by a 5-yard scamper from Griffin for the score.

The Baylor momentum was short lived because with just over six minutes to go, Swank's punt from midfield caromed off of a Baylor player and right into the arms of redshirt senior Chantz McClinic at the Baylor 10 yard line.

Three plays later, Adams took the handoff from back-up quarterback Brett Hodges and converted the Baylor miscue into six points, running it in from four yards out for the final score of the contest.

The Deacon defense recorded its fourth turnover of the game when Alex Frye intercepted Freeman in the endzone with just under two minutes to go.

Redshirt freshman C.J. Washington took his first collegiate handoff and ran 55 yards into Baylor territory and the Deacs would then run out the clock. Washington ended the game with two rushes for 63 yards.

The 28-point win was not only the largest margin of victory for the Deacs in a season opener, but it also marked the first win against a team from the state of Texas. The win avenged a 31-0 loss to Baylor in the team's last meeting on Sept. 23, 1961.

Three true freshmen saw action this evening; center Chance Raines, tight end Andrew Parker and Joe Looney. The last time three true freshman played in a season was in 2002 when RB Chris Barclay, WR Chris Davis and P Ryan Plackemeier all saw action. Each of those three players has spent time in the NFL.

Wake Forest will look for its 400th win in the program's history when it holds its home opener against Ole Miss on Sept. 6 at 3:30 p.m. The game will also be the debut for BB&T Field's new Deacon Tower.



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