Wake Forest Defeats Virginia, 28-17
Nov. 8, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2 ACC) raced out to a 28-3 lead at halftime and held off a late Virginia rally to defeat the Cavaliers (5-5, 3-3 ACC) 28-17 on Saturday in front of a season-high crowd of 34,014 at BB&T Field.
The win gave the Deacons their sixth win on the season, marking the third straight year that Wake Forest has recorded at least six wins. The last time the Deacs had six wins in three straight years was from 1946-1948.
Wake Forest defeated Virginia in Winston-Salem for the first time since the 1983 season, when current Virginia coach Al Groh led Wake Forest to a victory over the Cavaliers. Virginia now leads the overall series 34-13.
With the victory, Wake Forest moves into a tie for first place with Florida State, with identical 4-2 records in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Deacs hold the tiebreaker over the Seminoles by virtue of their 12-3 win in Tallahassee earlier in the season.
Brandon Pendergrass enjoyed his best day in a Wake Forest uniform, running for a career-high 110 yards and one touchdown on a career-best 27 carries. Devon Brown led Wake Forest in receiving with 58 yards on a long touchdown catch.
After stopping Virginia 3-and-out on its first possession, Wake Forest got on the board first, taking a 7-0 lead with 8:51 left in the first quarter. Pendergrass had five carries on the first drive for 23 yards. The drive was capped off on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Riley Skinner to Ben Wooster.
The Demon Deacon defense forced its first turnover of the day on the next Cavalier drive as Aaron Curry hit Cedric Peerman in the backfield, forcing a fumble that was also recovered by Curry. The Wake Forest offense could not capitalize on the turnover as a clipping penalty forced a 3-and-out.
After the Wake Forest defense stopped the Cavaliers for the third straight drive, Virginia got a break as the punt hit Kevin Harris and was recovered by the Cavaliers. Wake Forest forced its second turnover of the day two plays later as Boo Robinson recorded his first career interception.
The Deacs took advantage of the turnover this time, extending the lead to 14-0 with 2:36 to play. On a 3rd-and-15 at the Wake Forest 42-yard line, Skinner found Devon Brown down the right sideline on a 58-yard touchdown pass to give the Deacs a two-score advantage. The touchdown catch for Brown was the first of his career.
After the two teams traded punts, the Cavaliers got on the board with a 33-yard field goal from Robert Randolph to cut the lead to 14-3 with 13:18 left in the second quarter. The key play of the drive was a 26-yard run by Peerman. A late hit penalty after the play took the ball to the Wake Forest 32-yard line.
Wake Forest answered the Cavalier field goal with its third touchdown of the day, a one-yard run by Pendergrass with 4:29 remaining in the second quarter to give the Deacons a 21-3 lead. Pendergrass shouldered the load for much of the drive, accounting for 61 yards on nine carries and one reception. The drive took 15 plays on 71 yards and chewed up 8:49 off the clock. The drive was the longest scoring drive of the season for Wake Forest.
The Wake Forest defense forced its third turnover of the day on the next Cavalier drive as Kevin Patterson returned an interception 53 yards to give Wake Forest a 28-3 lead with 3:16 left in the second quarter. The interception was the first returned for a touchdown since November 17, 2007, when Aaron Curry had an interception return for a touchdown against NC State.
The Cavaliers picked up a pair of first downs on their final drive of the first half, but were unable to cut into the Wake Forest lead. The 28 points scored in the first half for Wake Forest was the most the team had scored in the opening 30 minutes this season.
It appeared that Virginia would cut into the Wake Forest lead on its second drive of the second half, but the Deacon defense kept the Cavaliers out of the endzone. Quarterback Marc Verica hit Kevin Ogletree on a 43-yard pass play down to the Deacon 1-yard line. The Cavaliers went backwards from there, losing eight yards on the next four plays. On 4th-and-goal, Verica's pass was complete to Peerman for a loss of three yards to end the drive.
The Cavaliers found the endzone for the first time in the game on their first drive of the fourth quarter. Verica hit John Phillips on a 21-yard touchdown pass to cut the Wake Forest lead to 28-10 with 13:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. The drive took four plays on 69 yards and took just 56 seconds off the clock.
After forcing a Wake Forest 3-and-out, Virginia trimmed the lead a little more on its next offensive drive. Verica found Ogletree on a five yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 28-17 with 8:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers were unable to get closer as the Wake Forest defense made a couple of huge plays to stop Virginia offensive possessions. Kyle Wilber sacked Verica on a 3rd-and-10 play to force a Virginia punt. On the next Virginia possession, Stanley Arnoux picked off Verica's pass and returned it 22 yards to the Virginia 14-yard line to seal the victory.
Wake Forest is back in action next Saturday as the Deacs travel to Raleigh, N.C., for the team's final road game of the season against NC State. Opening kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) and will be shown live on ESPNU.