Deacons Run Past Army 49-37
Sept. 22, 2012
By Rob Daniels, WakeForestSports.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - It wasn't as crazy as "The Longest Yard," the 1974 movie, and at 3 hours and 20 minutes, it wasn't all that time-consuming by the standards of modern college football. But after facing 77 rushing attempts from more angles than Euclid could have conjured, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons exited BB&T Field exhausted, satisfied and victorious over Army 49-37 Saturday afternoon.
"That's one of the longest days I've ever been through in coaching," Wake's Jim Grobe said.
Such is the deal when you face the Black Knights, whose wishbone, option offense is impossible to duplicate in practice and nearly as tough to stop in live action. Army's total of running plays is the highest against the Deacons since 1975 and the third-highest any Wake team has ever seen.
"Even if you can get the angles right, nobody does it like those guys," Wake safety Daniel Mack said. "The first quarter and a half is constant assessment and adjustment."
The Demon Deacons racked up 517 yards of total offense - their highest total since 2009 - and all of them were welcomed because Army accrued 506 of its own. Saturday marked the first time since 1998 that Wake Forest amassed and permitted 500 or more.
Ultimately, Wake improved to 3-1 because it broke several big runs and used wide receiver Michael Campanaro as a de facto rusher. Campanaro caught 12 of Tanner Price's 15 completions for 153 yards and scored three touchdowns - two on passes and a third on an end-around run.
In short, it was never easy.
In the fourth quarter, the Black Knights trailed 42-37 and were on one of their typical drives. Twelve plays had taken up five minutes of the clock and had advanced the ball to the Wake 31. It wasn't a stretch to believe that, with six minutes to go, Army might have scored the go-ahead points and left the Deacons with relatively little time to respond. The Knights faced fourth down and went for it.
One thing played into Wake Forest's favor. Starting quarterback Trent Steelman had left for good after absorbing several clean shots to the ribs. That's an occupational hazard of any option QB, but it left the offense in the relatively inexperienced hands of backup Angel Santiago.
"Huge. Absolutely huge," Grobe admitted. "I hate it. I never want to see a kid get hurt. Ever. The kid who came in might be just as capable, but he hadn't played the whole game."
The Deacons' second edge was linebacker Mike Olson, who derived special inspiration on this day. Only 24 hours earlier, his father, Col. Thomas Olson, retired after more than 30 years of service to his country in the Army in a career that included service in the first Gulf War and in Afghanistan. His comrades conducted a ceremony in the elder Olson's honor at the Pentagon. Mike Olson was unable to attend, of course, but he received permission from the colonel to defeat the Black Knights.
"Go Wake," the text message read early Saturday. "Beat Army."
Olson snuck around the left side of the Wake defensive line and, when his teammates took away Santiago's cut-back, the linebacker was there to record the critical one-yard loss with six minutes to play.
"Our front did a really good job of taking up the other blocks and I was free," Olson said.
The Deacons responded and faced a third and sixth a few minutes later. Deandre Martin's goal was a first down. Presented with a chance for something more, he took full advantage for a 37-yard, game-sealing touchdown.
It was Wake's third TD of 41 or more yards on the day. Josh Harris' 63-yard run was arguably the day's single biggest highlight.
"We had some games where all we needed was that one block," Harris said. "And today was that day. Our offensive line play was amazing."
Scoring Drive Recaps
Army 6, Wake Forest 0 (3:20, 1st Quarter)
Wake Forest 7, Army 6 (4:00, 1st Quarter)
Army 13, Wake Forest 7 (3:11, 1st Quarter)
Wake Forest 14, Army 13 (3:32, 1st Quarter)
Army 20, Wake Forest 14 (4:05, 2nd Quarter)
Wake Forest 21, Army 20 (3:19, 2nd Quarter)
Army 23, Wake Forest 21 (4:24, 2nd Quarter)
Wake Forest 28, Army 23 (2:55, 3rd Quarter)
Wake Forest 35, Army 23 (1:09, 3rd Quarter)
Wake Forest 35, Army 30 (3:43, 3rd Quarter)
Wake Forest 42, Army 30 (1:12, 3rd Quarter)
Wake Forest 42, Army 37 (3:12, 3rd Quarter)
Wake Forest 49, Army 37 (3:00, 4th Quarter)
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