On a clear, sunny day in Birmingham’s historic Legion Field, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated the Memphis Tigers to secure their third bowl game victory in three years. With Memphis favored to win by 4.5, the game ended in an exciting shootout with Wake Forest coming out on top 37-34. This win cemeted Wake Forest Football in history, as they are one of two teams in 15 years to come back from a 14-point deficit to win the game.
During the press conference, Head Coach Dave Clawson commented, “I think you can tell our guys enjoy bowls. We prepare for them well and … these has been three nail-biters which come down to the last play.”
The Demon Deacons ended their season 7-6 — an accomplishment considering the sheer amount of injuries the team has faced, the three Thursday night matchups in the regular season schedule, and going 2-5 at BB&T Field.
In his fourth start of the season, quarterback Jamie Newman was crowned the Birmingham Bowl MVP for his stellar performance including four touchdowns, 91 rushing yards and 328 passing yards. Newman’s game-winning rushing touchdown with 34 seconds left to go in the game put the Demon Deacons ahead and proved to be the winning play after Memphis was unable to make a field goal — the first kicked after Wake Forest called a timeout, the second after a Memphis false start and the third veering right from 43 yards away.
Newman’s dual-threat ability, connecting on deep passes throughout the game to Alex Bachman and Scotty Washington, plus running the ball, proved to be too much for the Memphis defense. The Wake Forest quarterback had three rushing touchdowns and one passing.
With All-ACC First Team wide receiver Greg Dortch out for the game before he declared for the NFL Draft on Sunday, Bachman was essential to the success of the offense.
“[I’m] happy that we could finish the season and finish my career on the right note. Hopefully people look back several years from now and see this senior classes legacy as a key part in the building of a very successful ACC football program. It’s up to the next group coming in to continue to raise the standard we have set here,” Bachman said.
Not only was Wake Forest without their top reciever, but Memphis was also down their All-American running back, Darrell Henderson, who also declared for the NFL Draft. With seven receptions good for 171 yards, Bachman surpassed the yards he needed to secure 1,000 total yards in his career by 162. Additionally, freshman kicker Nick Sciba was three for three, kicking for 36, 49, and 39.
Not only was the Wake Forest offense up to the task, but the Wake Forest defense held the Tigers to only one touchdown in the second half.
“We played really great defense from their 2nd touchdown until 1:15 left in the game,” Clawson said.
While the defense experienced a lot of adversity throughout the season, their ability to limit the Memphis offense was essential to securing the third straight bowl win for the Demon Deacons.