Demon Deacons earn second ACC victory against Boston College

The 43-15 victory was the team’s sixth, making the Demon Deacons bowl eligible for the seventh straight year


Evan Harris

The Sports section covered a successful season for Wake Forest sports, including for football, which won the Gasparilla Bowl.

Sean Kennedy, Staff Writer

In the postgame press conference, you could tell that Dave Clawson was flustered.

Was it because his team lost? No, the Demon Deacons beat Boston College 43-15. Was it because he lost key players in the process? Couldn’t be. Could the team have not played well and the score was deceiving? Not in his opinion.

It was because of his quarterback, redshirt junior Sam Hartman, and his superb performance against the Eagles’ secondary.

“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” Clawson said of Hartman. “Last year, he was the second team all-ACC, the first guy [Pitt QB Kenny Pickett] graduates and gets drafted, and somehow he went into the season by some as the fifth best quarterback in the ACC. It’s disrespectful.”

“There’s not another quarterback in the country I would rather have.”

Hartman had another amazing day against the Demon Deacons’ division foe, leading Wake Forest’s offense past the Eagles with six combined touchdowns and 313 passing yards. His five-passing touchdown performance was the fourth time in his career achieving the feat, and he’d be lined up for ACC quarterback of the week honors after the performance.

He wasn’t the only one receiving high praise, though. Hartman’s offensive linemen were complimented after the game not only by Clawson but by Boston College Head Coach Jeff Hafley as well.

“Those guys make everything go,” said Clawson. “Every other coach that plays us, they’re the first guys they talk about.”

“They’re really strong up front,” added Hafley. “They really hold the pocket, and are able to allow [Hartman] to throw a foot away from them.”

After the Wake Forest captains won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, the Demon Deacon defense came out of the gate running. On the first play of the game, Boston College running back Pat Garwo III was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by a sea of defensive linemen. Later on in the drive, BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec was sacked by redshirt junior defensive lineman Rondell Bothroyd to force the Eagles to punt.

On the ensuing drive, Wake Forest’s offense showed a little rust coming out of the bye week, highlighted by a few missed opportunities downfield on pass plays. The BC secondary was not invincible to mistakes, however, as junior wide receiver AT Perry was able to draw a pass interference call on a deep ball from Hartman in the midst of the offensive rut.

After sophomore Demon Deacon punter Ivan Mora sent the ball back to the BC offense, Jurkovec and wide receiver Zay Flowers proved their strong connection with consecutive passes of 16 and 10 yards, followed by a 12-yard completion up the middle to fellow wide receiver Joe Griffin to put them in the red zone. However, after a collection of false starts and missed passes, the defense held BC to a 29-yard field goal.

That would be the last time the Eagles would have a lead p, however, and Hartman would subsequently engineer the Demon Deacons’ first scoring drive. Multiple passes to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Donovan Greene, a 23-yard gain down the right sideline to receiver Ke’Shawn Williams and a diving catch in the endzone by sophomore receiver Jahmal Banks put Wake Forest up 7-3, and the Demon Deacons would never look back.

The Eagles’ offense seemed to drop off a cliff on the ensuing drive, as Pat Garwo III was tackled behind the line of scrimmage yet again and they would suffer a three and out, their first of six on the day.

If that wasn’t enough suffering for Eagles fans, their punter shanked a punt sharp right into the bleachers behind the Wake Forest bench. That put the Demon Deacons into a prime position for another score, starting at the BC 42-yard line. After a 17-yard catch by Donovan Greene and small gains on the ground by sophomore running back Justice Ellison, Hartman found redshirt sophomore Taylor Morin in the endzone for the wideout’s first touchdown in over a month.

The ensuing drive for the Eagles was something out of a fever dream. After the defense had stopped BC and gotten them to fourth down, the BC punting team took advantage of their own miscue earlier and their punter, Danny Longman, would run on a fake punt for 24 yards. In a testament to the Demon Deacons’ defense, Longman would turn out to be the Eagles’ best rusher of the day, leading with the 24-yard gain.

Later that drive, on 4th and 11, Wake Forest sophomore defensive lineman Jasheen Davis would make what seemed to be a signature play, tackling Jurkovec and forcing the ball out of his hands and picking the fumble up himself. On the return, however, the Eagles managed to rip the ball out for a second fumble in the same play. It would be recovered by the Eagles, and in an odd turn of events, the Eagles would be awarded a first down since Wake Forest possessed the ball.

The craziness did not stop there. On the next play, Flowers and Jurkovec showed their connection yet again, with Flowers gaining separation downfield to haul in a 61-yard touchdown, the Eagles’ first of two endzone trips on the day. To cap off the chaos, a Wake Forest defender would get a finger on the extra point try, keeping the Demon Deacons up five points.

The Wake Forest offensive attack responded with vigor during their next possession. The drive was led by wide receiver AT Perry, who pulled down three receptions of 10 yards or more, including a 13-yard touchdown. Perry’s 22nd career touchdown tied him at second in the Wake Forest record books for career receiving touchdowns and is four touchdowns away from breaking Ricky Proehl’s record set in 1989.

After the halftime break, the Deacon offense battled some adversity, especially as they converted on a 3rd and 25, with Hartman finding Morin past the sticks. The Hartman-Morin connection proved true once again when in the red zone, and Morin caught his second touchdown of the day on a four-yard route to put the Deacons up 28-9.

The Eagles converted their next drive into their final scoring opportunity of the day, while also getting tricky with their playcalling. A designed flea-flicker was almost intercepted, but they continued on multiple gains of 15 yards or more. Jurkovec took it into the endzone himself on a scramble from seven yards out, but the Eagles couldn’t convert a two-point attempt, leaving the scoreboard showing 28-15.

A few possessions later, Hartman essentially closed the game out using all tools available to him, connecting with Greene for a 23-yard gain along with consecutive 15-yard passes to junior tight end Blake Whiteheart. From the BC two-yard line, Hartman strolled into the endzone along the left side of his offensive line, creating his fifth of six contributed touchdowns. He capped the drive off with a bullet to Ke’Shawn Williams in the back of the endzone on the two-point conversion to put the Demon Deacons up by 21.

The final scoring drive of the day saw contributions from all levels of the offense, but it was Jahmal Banks who punched it in on a highlight-worthy play. He battled through a clear pass interference to snatch a 16-yard reception, his second touchdown of the day. The play encapsulated how his receiver room played on that day—dominant.

“I’m a former basketball player, and I was good at boxing out,” Banks joked after the game. “I used my big frame and boxed [the defender] out so I could get the ball.”

All the while, the defense continued to play a heavy part in the game, limiting the Eagles to only 54 yards rushing on the day, in total. The total dominance on both ends of the ball allowed the Deacons to come out with the victory 43-15 and helped launch them up into the top 10 of the AP poll for the first time since last season, just the second time in school history. The victory also earns Wake Forest bowl eligibility for a seventh consecutive season, a continuation of the longest streak in school history.

The No. 10 Demon Deacons travel to Kentucky this upcoming week to face ACC Atlantic rival Louisville (4-3, 2-3 ACC), which is led by dynamic quarterback Malik Cunningham and Coach Scott Satterfield. The game will be played at 3:30 p.m. and available on ACC Network.