Bowl Season Opens With Wake Forest Victory Over Navy, 29-19
Dec. 20, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP)--Riley Skinner found a perfect way to obliterate the miserable memory of his painful performance against Navy earlier this season.
Skinner went 11-for-11 and threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Ben Wooster with 7:52 left, leading Wake Forest to a 29-19 comeback victory over the Midshipmen in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl to open the bowl season Saturday.
The previous school record for accuracy was a 12-for-14 effort by Mike McGlamry in 1975. Skinner added a completion on a conversion attempt.
He finished with 166 yards passing and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
It was a rematch of a September game played at Wake Forest, when Navy took advantage of five turnovers by Skinner--four interceptions and a fumble--to pull off a 24-17 upset.
Skinner took the blame for the loss, and in the days leading up to this game, the junior quarterback expressed an intense desire to "prove something and get a little revenge."
The Midshipmen scored the first 17 points in that game, and this time they used a 50-yard fumble return by Rashawn King to take a 13-0 lead.
But Skinner didn't flinch. He directed Wake Forest (8-5) to a touchdown in the final minute of the first half and opened the third quarter with a 73-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard run by Josh Adams for a 14-13 lead.
Navy (8-5) went back in front when Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada scored on a 2-yard run with 12:30 to go, but Skinner went 4-for-4 for 69 yards in an 80-yard drive that ended with his 8-yard pass to Wooster. Skinner then hit Devon Brown in the back of the end zone for the conversion that made it 22-19.
Rich Belton added a 35-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds left.
That enabled the winningest senior class in Wake Forest football history to enhance its legacy. The Demon Deacons' 16 seniors finished with a 32-19 record, three bowl appearances and the 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Senior cornerback Alphonso Smith set an ACC record with his 21st career interception, but his fumble while making a rare appearance on offense resulted in a Navy touchdown.
The first bowl game held at 48-year-old RFK Stadium drew a crowd of 28,777, many of them Navy fans who made the short drive from nearby Annapolis, Md.
After Wake Forest began the game with a three and out, Shun White ran for 39 yards on Navy's first play to set up a 40-yard field goal by Matt Harmon. It was the 12th time in 13 games the Midshipmen scored on their opening drive.
The Demon Deacons then picked up a pair of first downs before Smith took off on a reverse. It was the first carry of the year for the cornerback/punt returner, and it was a disaster: He was stripped of the ball by Wyatt Middleton, and King took the fumble into the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
King, a senior, missed the Army-Navy game because of the death of his father. It was the second defensive touchdown by the Midshipmen in a bowl game, the other coming in the 1961 Orange Bowl.
Navy's next offensive series was a 16-play drive that ended with Harmon's school-record 19th field goal of the season, a 47-yarder.
Late in the half, King returned another fumble for a score. But the play was overturned after a replay determined the runner was down by contact, and the Demon Deacons resumed a 98-yard march that produced a 4-yard touchdown run by Adams--the first points against Navy in nearly 161 minutes.
Limited to 7 yards passing before the drive, Skinner went 3-for-3 for 58 yards. All three completions went to D.J. Boldin.