Wake Forest falls to UNC on the road

The Demon Deacons dropped to 4-3 after losing an offensive showdown to the Tar Heels


Deacs RB Christian Beal-Smith rushed for 120 yards on Saturday afternoon (Photo courtesy of @WakeFB/Twitter)

Ben Conroy, Sports Editor

The hearts of the Demon Deacon faithful were crushed on Saturday as Wake Forest squandered a 21-point second half lead in a wild 59-53 loss to UNC Chapel Hill. Tar Heels QB Sam Howell marched his squad down the field time and time again, dismantling the Wake Forest secondary to the tune of 550 passing yards and six touchdowns. The Deacs’ defense put forth its most discouraging showing of the season, allowing 742 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. The loss is a punch in the gut for Wake Forest, who forfeited any possibility of sneaking into this week’s AP top-25 and give up crucial ground in a competitive ACC conference.

From an objective standpoint, the game was an absolute joy to behold, with both offenses firing on all cylinders and providing a slew of highlight caliber plays. Between both sides, four players ended up with over 160 yards receiving, and two running backs finished with triple digit yardage as well. While both defensive coordinators were left scratching their heads, the ensuing matchup turned out to be one of the most entertaining in all of college football so far this year. To put things in perspective, the over/under for the game was set at 72; as the final horn sounded, however, there had been a whopping 112 points scored.

Despite the unfortunate outcome, the contest was not without its encouraging moments for the Demon Deacons. Redshirt sophomore QB Sam Hartman played his best statistical game so far this year, slinging it for 450 passing yards and four touchdowns. As one would predict, the Wake Forest wide receivers had a field day as well; redshirt freshman Donavon Greene and redshirt junior Jaquarii Roberson hauled in two touchdowns apiece. On the ground, the Demon Deacon halfbacks were reliable as usual, as sophomore Kenneth Walker III scored twice while redshirt junior Christian Beal-Smith scampered for 120 yards on the ground. Performances like these demonstrate that Wake Forest has the necessary tools to finish with a respectable spot in the ACC standings this year. That said, the age-old question still lingers: will they be able to connect all the puzzle pieces before it’s too late?

The most frustrating aspect of this particular loss was the Deacs’ uninspiring fourth quarter performance. The offense, which had been churning out touchdowns all afternoon, suddenly sputtered as the Deacs were shut out until the final three minutes of gameplay. On the other side of the ball, the Wake Forest defense lost its footing and found themselves at the mercy of Howell and co.; Howell found the endzone three times in the contest’s final 15 minutes, thrice through the air and once on the ground. Entering the fourth quarter, the Deacs held a 45-31 lead and appeared to have the game under control. If the Deacs hope to accomplish anything noteworthy the rest of this season, they’ll have to find a way to remain during crunch time.

Wake Forest has four games remaining against a brutal slate of ACC opponents. They’ll travel to Duke and Louisville the next two weeks, followed by two marquee matchups at home against No. 12 Miami and No. 2 Notre Dame. The Deacs will have to fight tooth and nail for every win the rest of the way, and will look to get things back on track with their second in-state victory of the season against the Blue Devils next Saturday.