The Demon Deacons overcame early defensive struggles, injuries and even a weather delay to take home the victory against the Tigers to improve to 2-0.
Wake Forest came out of the gate red-hot with the very first play being a 23-yard gain on a throw down the middle to WR redshirt sophomore Greg Dortch. The Deacs quickly throttled downfield with their frenetic no-huddle offense. Soon enough, Wake Forest was in a third and five on Towson’s red zone. Freshman QB Sam Hartman then escaped the pocket and threw on the run to senior WR Alex Bachman who made a beautiful one-handed grab worthy of Sports Center’s attention.
Much like Wake Forest’s first drive, the Tigers quickly stroke back with a TD on their own. QB Tom Flacco, Joe Flacco’s younger brother, had a perfect drive, as the Wake Forest defense wasn’t able to show any reaction.
The rest of the first quarter followed suit as both teams exchanged punches in an offensive slugfest resulting in both teams finishing the first quarter tied at 14 apiece.
It is worth noticing that in various occasions Wake Forest pass-rushers put pressure on Flacco, but they couldn’t translate that pressure into sacks. Look no further than both of Towson’s touchdown plays.
“We’ve missed a lot of sacks. One of the touchdowns we gave up the other day, we had a free blitzer in the backfield and the second blitzer was contained and that allowed a back to get open against a defensive end,” said Coach Dave Clawson at a press conference Tuesday. “We have to do a better job with containing the quarterback.”
The defense also struggled in the secondary with the absence of starting free safety Cameron Glenn and starting cornerback Amari Henderson.
As the game progressed, the Demon Deacons started to pull away thanks to a historical performance by Dortch. He had an also equally impressive one-handed touchdown catch, and two back-to-back punts returned for touchdowns, all in one quarter to have the Deacs up 38-20 at the half.
Dortch is the first Wake Forest player to return two punts for TDs since 1927 when Johnny Cox did it against Davidson. He finished the game with 309 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, while also leading all receivers with 94 yards and seven receptions.
The coaching staff has been putting a lot of emphasis on being able to make plays on special teams this offseason, and so far, they have been successful in that regard.
“So all week, Coach Crawford, he’s been doing a great job of just coming up with schemes. He’s been telling me to just trust it. First game we played Tulane, I had a little seam and I got tackled by like, the last guy, and it just pissed me off and it irked me all week,” Dortch said in an interview to the Winston-Salem Journal. “He said we were going to get one, we got finishing with 130 yards in 19 carries and a touchdown. That was also Carney’s first 100+ game since Oct. 8, 2016 against Syracuse.
Overall, the Demon Deacons got the job done at home to improve to 2-0. The poor performance by the defense during the first half should be a cause of concern for the coaching staff moving forward, especially as the Deacs head into conference play against Boston College on Thursday.
During the second half, the game was stopped by a weather delay due to lightning occurrences in the area. After the lightning faded away, it was now the time for a thunderous Wake Forest running game to take over the game. Led by junior RB Cade Carney the Deacs added final numbers to a 51-20 blowout win. Carney had his first 100+ yards game of the season, have found a way to win, but there have been things that have been exposed,” Clawson said during Tuesday’s press conference. “We have worked hard in practice to correct those things. This is a week, if you don’t get it corrected, it will be exposed, and it will cost you.”
Due to concerns over Hurricane Florence the game against Boston College at BB&T Field was moved up to 5:30 pm on Thursday, Sept. 13.
If you are planning to attend the game, make sure to monitor the situation with Hurricane Florence due to possible weather changes. The game will also be nationally broadcast on ESPN’s main channel.