Wake Forest Closes Season with 23-10 win Over Vanderbilt
Nov. 29, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4 ACC) closed the regular season with a 23-10 victory over Vanderbilt (6-6, 4-4 SEC) on Saturday night at BB&T Stadium.
The Deacons have now won seven games in a season for the first time in school history and have posted a winning record in three consecutive years for the first time since 1950-52.
Wake Forest outgained Vanderbilt in the game 331-249. The Deacs held a 158-116 advantage on the ground, while compiling 173 passing yards to 133 for the Commodores.
Senior wide receiver D.J. Boldin finished the game with a team-high eight catches and 73 yards. With the eight grabs, Boldin eclipsed the 100 reception mark in his career as he now has 103 catches as a Deacon.
Riley Skinner finished the game 13-of-20 passing for 173 yards. Brandon Pendergrass had a team-high 45 rushing yards and a touchdown. Kevin Harris had 36 yards on the ground and also added a touchdown. Rich Belton finished the game with 28 rushing yards and a touchdown.
The game marked the final home game for the 16 members of Wake Forest's senior class. The seniors have compiled a record of 31-19, the most wins by any class in school history and have gone 18-8 at BB&T Field over the last four years.
Wake Forest also set a new record for attendance in a single season. Tonight's crowd of 25,902 brought the season total to 221,582, besting the previous record of 197,911 set in 2003.
Vanderbilt got the first break of the game, recovering a muffed punt from D.J. Boldin to take over at the Wake Forest 20-yard line. The Commodores turned the turnover into three points as Bryant Hahnfeldt converted on a 33-yard field goal to give Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead with 7:40 left in the first quarter.
Wake Forest answered the Vanderbilt field goal with one of its own as Sam Swank split the uprights on a field goal for the first time since the Navy game on September 27. The key play on the drive came on 3rd-and-6 at the Vanderbilt 49-yard line as Riley Skinner hit Josh Adams on a 30-yard pass play to the Commodore 19-yard line. The Deacons were forced to settle for three points on the drive as Swank made a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at three with 1:52 left in the first quarter. With the field goal, Swank moved into second place all-time in career field goals made in Atlantic Coast Conference history with 71.
Wake Forest forced its first turnover of the game on the next offensive possession for Vanderbilt. On a 1st-and-15 at the Deacon 29-yard line, Chip Vaughn intercepted a pass from Mackenzi Adams as Wake Forest took over at the 2-yard line.
The Deacons took advantage of the turnover by going 98 yards on 12 plays to take a 10-3 lead with 10:39 left in the second quarter. Skinner hit Pendergrass on a 22-yard pass play to take the ball down to Vanderbilt's 6-yard line and Pendergrass found the endzone from six yards out on the next play for the score. The scoring drive was the longest in yards for Wake Forest since November 1, 2003, when the Deacons had a 98-yard scoring drive against Clemson.
The converted extra point attempt after the scoring drive by Swank gave him 120 makes in his career, breaking the school record, previously held by Wilson Hoyle (1986-89).
The Wake Forest special teams made a play near the end of the first half to set Wake Forest up with good field position. After being called for a roughing the kicker penalty on the previous punt attempt, Wake Forest blocked the next punt attempt as Brandon Ghee got a hand on the ball and recovered the block at the Vanderbilt 36-yard line. The Deacons were unable to take advantage of the block as Swank missed a field goal attempt from 52 yards to keep the score at 10-3.
Both teams opened up the second half by turning the ball over. On the first play of the half, Josh Adams fumbled the football, giving the ball to the Commodores at the Wake Forest 40-yard line. Vanderbilt gave the ball right back on the very next play as Jeff Jennings lost the football, giving the ball back to Wake Forest at its own 45-yard line. The Deacs were unable to take advantage of the turnover as they were forced to punt.
The Deacons extended their lead on their third offensive possession of the second half. Kevin Harris capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to give Wake Forest a 17-3 lead with 7:02 left in the third quarter. The rushing score was Harris' first since the 2006 season and seventh of his career.
Vanderbilt answered with a touchdown drive of its own. The drive took 14 plays on 69 yards and ran 6:59 off the clock. On a 4th-and-4 at the Wake Forest 5-yard line, Larry Smith found Brandon Barden in the endzone to cut the lead to 17-10 with 14:55 left in the game.
Wake Forest sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-19 at the Commodore 5-yard line, Alphonso Smith stepped in front of pass from Smith for the 20th interception of his career. The 20th pick tied Alphonso Smith with Dre' Bly for most career interceptions in ACC history. Wake Forest added insurance points two plays later as Rich Belton found the endzone from four yards out to give the Deacons a 23-10 lead with 3:12 left in the game. Swank missed the extra point attempt, his first miss in 122 career attempts.
Vanderbilt had one final offensive possession, but was only able to pick up two first downs. The Deacons stopped the Commodores on a 4th-and-12 at the Wake Forest 23-yard line and took three knees to run the clock off and give Wake Forest its seventh win of the season.
The Deacons will now wait to find out its bowl destination, which will be announced on Sunday, December 7. Stay tuned to WakeForestSports.com for more information on Wake Forest's bowl destination.