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First Half Effort Lifts Demon Deacons To 34-14 Victory Over Flames
The contest, which marked the Flames' first-ever against an ACC opponent, drops Liberty's record to 3-2 on the season, while Wake Forest remains unbeaten on the year to move to 5-0.
Wake Forest wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Riley Swanson picked off a Brock Smith sideline pass at the Liberty 44-yard line on the third play of the contest.
Liberty held the Demon Deacons to just seven yards on the ensuing drive, forcing Wake Forest to attempt a lengthy field goal which Sam Swank hit as the 52-yard field goal gave the home team a 3-0 lead at the 11:59 mark. The field goal marked the first time this season that a team has scored on the Flames in the first half.
After a three-and-out series by Liberty, the Demon Deacons added to their advantage on the second play of the next drive as Kevin Harris found a hole on the outside and scampered 27 yards for a touchdown, giving Wake Forest a 10-0 lead with 9:07 left to play in the first quarter.
The score remained the same until early in the second when the Deacons capped off a seven-play, 91-yard drive with a second touchdown run by Harris. The tailback rushed seven yards over the left tackle to give Wake Forest a 17-0 edge with 13:08 left to play before halftime.
The Flames started to settle down in the second quarter as Liberty pieced together an 11-play, 81-yard scoring drive capped off by a pass from Smith to Darnell Edwards in the corner of the end zone. The scoring drive was kept alive by a 23-yard gain by Wynton Jackson as the wide out caught a sideline screen pass on a third-and-three play earlier in the drive.
The nine-yard touchdown marked the first time that Wake Forest had given up a touchdown in seven quarters, trimming the lead to 17-7 with 8:43 left before halftime.
The Demon Deacons added three more points to their lead on the next drive as Swank knocked down a 37-yard field goal with 5:38 left to play in the second quarter to finish off a eight-play, 51-yard drive.
After a Liberty drive ended at middle field, which was aided by a 41-yard reception by Brandon Turner, Wake Forest regained possession. And the home team thrilled the Homecoming crowd with seven more points before the intermission as Riley Skinner found Nate Morton open for a 59-yard touchdown reception to give Wake Forest a 27-7 lead heading into the locker room.
Neither team was able to find the scoreboard during the third quarter as the teams traded a combined five possessions between them during the scoreless quarter (three by Wake Forest and two by Liberty).
The score remained the same until the Demon Deacons put together their longest drive of the day as they capped off a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a three-run yard by De'Angelo Bryant with 6:30 left to play, pushing Wake Forest's lead to 34-7.
However, the Flames kept things interesting as Liberty answered right back on the ensuing drive as Smith completed 5-of-6 pass attempts to lead the Flames down the field. Liberty finished off the drive with Smith and Edwards hooking up for the second time on the game on a six-yard pass to the corner of the end zone at 2:10 to give the game its final margin.
Rashad Jennings was held to just 35 yards on 19 carries on the day, his second fewest rushing yards since joining the program, while Zach Terrell rushed for 20 yards on four carries. Wake Forest rushed for 196 yards on the afternoon with Harris leading the team with 77 yards on eight carries and the two rushing touchdowns.
Skinner passed for 218 yards as the quarterback completed 13-of-21 pass attempts and one touchdown pass. Smith led the Flames with a season-high 211 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 15-of-25 passes, while the yardage marks the fourth-best performance of his career.
Morton led all receivers with 127 yards on six receptions (21.2 yards per reception) with a touchdown. Jackson (seven catches for 69 yards) and Turner (four receptions for 84 yards) paced the Flames in yardage. Edwards finished the game with his first and second career touchdown receptions.
Stevie Ray Lloyd and Patrick Calvary led the Flames defense with eight tackles each, while Manny Rojas moved into a tie for fourth place on the Big South's career tackle list as the senior finished with six tackles to give him 299 on his career.
The Flames will take next week off before return to action against William & Mary on October 14 at Williams Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. with the contest marking the conclusion of the University's annual Homecoming Weekend.