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Archive for Friday, October 10, 2008

Wake Forest survives Clemson

October 10, 2008

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— Riley Skinner and Wake Forest have played two ACC games and managed just one touchdown. It came just in time to help the Demon Deacons beat another Bowden.

Skinner threw a 7-yard scoring pass to D.J. Boldin with 5:28 left to lead No. 21 Wake Forest past Clemson, 12-7, on Thursday night.

He completed 22 of 34 passes for 186 yards, added 74 more yards rushing and led the decisive 15-play, 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter for the Demon Deacons (4-1, 2-0).

The only Atlantic Division team with a perfect conference record won its first two league games for the first time since 1987, but had to go through the ACC's first family to do it. After topping Bobby Bowden's Florida State team on four field goals, they took out son Tommy's Tigers with a dominant defense and some opportunistic play from the quarterback coming off a five-turnover performance against Navy.

"It's just a testament to our defense. The thing is, though, once you look at our yards - we're moving the ball," Skinner said. "It's not like we can't move the ball at all. We're just driving and shooting ourselves in the foot when it gets inside the red zone. ... It's not like our plays are bad. We're just not capitalizing."

Shane Popham - starting in place of injured kicker Sam Swank - had field goals of 22 and 32 yards for Wake Forest, and a dominant defense held the Tigers' vaunted ground game to 21 yards rushing on 23 carries. The Demon Deacons outgained Clemson 342-198 to snap a two-game losing streak in the series.

"This is a game that, me personally, I've wanted for a long time," Skinner said.

Cullen Harper was 15-of-35 for 177 yards with an interception for Clemson (3-3, 1-2). The league's preseason favorites lost their second straight and are one of three ACC teams with multiple conference losses.

"Our backs are against the wall right now big time," Harper said. "There's either two things we can do - we can either quit and lay down, or we can come out swinging (next week) against Georgia Tech."

Harper's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Ford with 7 seconds left in the third quarter put Clemson up 7-3.

Alphonso Smith's school-record-tying 17th career interception gave Wake Forest the ball inside the Clemson 20 and set up Popham's second field goal, which pulled Wake Forest to 7-6 with just under 13 minutes to play.

Then, after forcing a punt, it was time for Skinner to rally the Demon Deacons.

Taking over with about 101â2 minutes left, he systematically marched Wake Forest downfield by completing seven of nine passes for 69 yards and converting three third downs - including a 28-yard pass to Boldin on third-and-24.

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