Big First Half Helps Clemson Defeat Wake Forest 42-13
Oct. 25, 2012
By Rob Daniels, WakeForestSports.com
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest fans did the all-out Black Out thing Thursday night, but the statement did not transcend fashion. Clemson's powerful offense suffered few outages and remained true to form in a 42-13 victory at BB&T Field.
With their fellow students dressed in black from head to toe for the nationally televised ESPN Thursday night contest, the Demon Deacons (4-4, 2-4 ACC) were unable to match the No. 14 Tigers' breathtaking speed. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw touchdown passes to five teammates in the first half as Clemson (7-1, 4-1) became only the second team in ACC history to score 37 or more points in seven consecutive games. The Tigers joined Florida State's 1995 squad, which dropped more than 70 on three overwhelmed victims in its reign of terror.
Clemson brought averages of 493 yards and 41 points per game into Thursday and proved neither was an aberration.
"I think we didn't realize how fast those guys really were," Wake coach Jim Grobe said. "They got behind us a couple of times. On two or three of those (TD) passes, I thought we played pretty good coverage. And then Tajh Boyd did a nice job. We were close enough to knock the ball down, but the passes were right where they needed to be."
The game did mark the return - at least a week before projections - of wide receiver Michael Campanaro, the Deacs' most versatile and valuable offensive weapon. Campanaro, who suffered a broken hand in last month's loss to Duke, caught six passes for 52 yards against the Tigers.
"Hand feels good. Legs are a little tired," Campanaro said.
The Deacs hung with the Tigers for a quarter, but Clemson began to distance itself with a play to which it has become accustomed. On third down and 10 from his 39, Boyd dropped back, benefited from blitz pick-up and found Sammy Watkins along the left sideline. Watkins hauled in the pass, made two Deacons miss and proceeded all the way into the end zone to make it 14-0.
"We came out on the first two or three drives and stopped them," defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock said. "I don't know. They started throwing the ball on us and scoring."
In short order, Wake found itself in a position that so many others have.
"We got flustered after a few scores, and we weren't able to weather the storm," linebacker Riley Haynes said.
Down 35-0, the Demon Deacons sought to get back into it. Tanner Price found Tommy Bohanon for a TD with 12 seconds left in the first half and again midway through the third quarter and Wake Forest had a spark. Bohanon, listed as a fullback but placed at tight end or in the slot in passing situations, has become a nice change-of-pace option for Price. Five of his 12 catches on the year have been for touchdowns.
"Going into the hurry-up offense put us in a better mindset," Bohanon said.
The strikes weren't enough to mount a serious challenge, however.
The Deacons enter the season's final third needing two wins in their final four games to qualify for a bowl. They return to action on Saturday, Nov. 5 against Boston College (1-6, 0-4), then go on the road for contests at NC State and Notre Dame and conclude with Vanderbilt at home on Nov. 24.
Postseason play is feasible but still requires some work. Getting Campanaro healthy and fully integrated into the offense again should help. The redshirt junior accounted for nearly half of his team's reception total by himself in the first four games of the campaign.
"We think we can win them all, but we know we have to win two more to go to a bowl game and send these seniors out the right way," Campanaro said.
Scoring Drive Recaps
Clemson 7, Wake Forest 0 (4:03, 1st quarter)
Clemson 14, Wake Forest 0 (14:49, 2nd quarter)
Clemson 21, Wake Forest 0 (8:36, 2nd quarter)
Clemson 28, Wake Forest 0 (3:56, 2nd quarter)
Clemson 35, Wake Forest 0 (1:18, 2nd quarter)
Clemson 35, Wake Forest 7 (0:12, 2nd quarter)
Clemson 35, Wake Forest 13 (7:45, 3rd quarter)
Clemson 42, Wake Forest 13 (8:44, 4th quarter)