"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Football defeats Elon 37-17

Dave Clawson earns his 150th career win in the Demon Deacons’ season opener
Evan Harris
Sophomore Quarterback Mitch Griffis holds onto the ball for a short gain.

A new football season kicked off with a lot of promise after Wake Forest beat the Elon Phoenix, 37-17.

Redshirt Sophomore Mitch Griffis took over the helm as starting quarterback this season and was able to provide a bevy of memorable moments, including a win that represented Head Coach Dave Clawson’s 150th of his career.

Griffis and the offense got off to a hot start in their first possession of the season. After an initial three-and-out by Elon, Griffis spread the wealth in a matter of plays. He found five different receivers on his first five completions, the last of which was an 18-yard pass connecting with a wide-open Wesley Grimes to land the Demon Deacons their first touchdown of the season.

“I thought Wesley stepped in and played a great game,” Griffis said of Grimes postgame. “He’s a super talented player.”

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The Griffis-to-Grimes connection would not stop there. Later on in the first, Griffis found his target downfield for a 49-yard connection that helped set up kicker Matthew Dennis’ first field goal of the season.

After another Elon offensive three and out, Griffis led another scoring drive. On a play that will be on highlight tapes to come, Griffis launched a heave in Jahmal Banks’ direction, who came down with the ball after an acrobatic effort. The touchdown put the Demon Deacons up by 17 early in the third quarter.

The day wasn’t all sunshine and happiness for Griffis, though. On the ensuing drive, Griffis was sacked on consecutive dropbacks, once by Caleb Curtain, followed up by Chazz Harley on the next play.

“I thought he was inconsistent,” Clawson said of Griffis postgame. “He definitely held onto the ball too long at times, and his internal clock was a bit off.”

“I stayed in the pocket too long,” seconded Griffis. 

Despite struggling on that drive, the Demon Deacons saw flaws in the Phoenix secondary. Both Griffis and tight end Cameron Hite saw a chance to go big- and after Griffis found Hite deep down the middle of the field, the latter ran it in for a 69-yard touchdown.

“I saw green grass,” Hite said. “I tried to race and leave the defender behind there.”

The second half did not start nearly as well, however, as Elon running back Jalen Hampton found a gap to his left and slipped past the secondary for a 49 yard touchdown run.

“I thought our defense played really well, except for that one play,” Clawson said postgame.

The Phoenix’s momentum did not stop there. On a first down on Wake Forest’s own side of the field, Griffis looked to find Taylor Morin in the middle but was intercepted by Curtain. The Elon defensive back took it 50 yards to the house to make it a 14-point unanswered run by the Phoenix. 

“I want to be perfect, but I know I won’t be perfect,” Griffis said. “It’s a learning process.”

Despite the drawbacks, the Demon Deacons found themselves running the ball well in the fourth quarter. While trying out a new jumbo running package, running back Demond Claiborne burst out for three rushes of 10 yards or more. Claiborne finished the night with 70 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts.

“I thought Demond [Claiborne] made some really great cuts,” Clawson said.

In a last effort, Elon kicker Jack Berkowitz hit a field goal as time expired to make the final score 37-17.

Overall, the team thought that it was a night of positives and promise as the team looks to take on an SEC opponent this Saturday — the Vanderbilt Commodores.

“I thought our specialists played very well tonight,” Clawson said. “Matthew Dennis was perfect on field goals. Good to see [Caleb] Carlson kick the ball in the endzone for us. The snappers were good. Ivan Mora punted the ball well.”

Clawson also provided praise for his defense, led by defensive coordinator Brad Lambert. Lambert, in his second year in charge, and his defense gathered momentum after a tremendous performance.

“We rushed the passer, we covered well, and our corners played really well,” Clawson said. “Overall, we’re happy to be 1-0.”

Clawson and the Demon Deacons take on Vanderbilt at Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.

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About the Contributor
Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy, Sports Editor
Sean is a junior from Long Island, NY majoring in communication and minoring in journalism and film studies. Outside of the OGB, he is the president of the Sports Analytics Club and a member of Wake Radio. In his free time, you can find him following all levels of professional sports and supporting his favorite teams — the Celtics, Jets, Yankees and Islanders.

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