Wake Forest Upends Florida State 31-21

Wake Forest Upends Florida State

Those questions about whether Dave Clawson could regroup his Wake Forest team after the heartbreaking loss to Clemson? Answered. The questions about prepping a team that was looking at potential hurricane weather in north Florida? Answered. And the allegations from the Florida State fan base that Clawson’s vocal concerns about the weather were just gamesmanship in an effort to reschedule the game? Also answered as Wake Forest upends Florida State 31-21 Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The game had several ebbs and flows as Florida State scored first, and rather easily. Wake Forest answered with a barrage of scores to build a huge lead only to have Florida State answer to make the game close halfway through the final quarter. It was then that Wake Forest, and its veteran offensive line imposed their will. The Demon Deacons got a 27-yard field goal for the final score. But the drive went 66 yards on 18 plays and consumed a whopping 6:37 off the clock.

With that field goal that created the insurmountable deficit, Wake Forest was able to shed itself of the loss to Clemson, pick up a significant conference win and move on to what’s next.

Another Slow Start

It was not so clear early on that Wake would be able to rid itself of the hangover from last week. Florida State moved downfield with relative ease on its first drive. The Seminoles went 83 yards in just six plays, picking up huge chunks of yards along the way. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis hit receiver Johnny Wilson for a 25-yard completion. On the next play, running back Treshaun Ward rushed up the middle for 30 yards. Two plays later, Travis hit receiver Mycah Pittman from eight yards out for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead.

Wake’s response was a five-play drive that netted all of 11 yards. But after forcing a Florida State punt, the Demon Deacons’ offense went to work. On third and 12 at the Florida State 34-yard line, quarterback Sam Hartman hit A.T. Perry along the left sideline for a 15-yard gain, and the offense had itself a rhythm. The difference this week compared to last week, or to most weeks this season for that matter, was Wake brought a running game. On fourth and one from inside the one, Christian Turner rammed through up the middle for the touchdown to tie the game.

Putting Distance Between The Two Teams

That touchdown led to 21 unanswered points by Wake Forest. In the second quarter, Justice Ellison rumbled for 35 yards to the FSU seven-yard line. From there, Hartman scrambled to his right and found Perry cutting across the middle of the end zone for the 14-7 lead.

The Wake defense forced a fumble on the first play of FSU’s next drive. Jaylen Hudson hit Travis who coughed up the ball. It was recovered by Chase Jones and Wake was in striking range again at the Florida State 39-yard line. Nineteen yards of runs by Turner put the ball at the FSU 20. Hartman delivered an over-the-top pass to Donavon Greene who made the over-the-shoulder catch against single coverage and wake was up 21-7 at the half.

The lead grew to 28-7 on wake’s first possession of the third quarter. Ellison finished off a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Florida State Comeback

FSU answered with a touchdown pass. On second and six at the Wake Forest six-yard line, the Demon Deacons put seven players in the box to stop the run. But Travis found Pittman in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Head coach Mike Norvell, who showed a complete lack of faith in his placekicker, went for the two-point conversion but the pass was intercepted in the end zone.

The Wake Forest offense stalled out on consecutive drives, giving Florida State a chance to get back into the game. Travis threw a fade pass to Wilson in the end zone for the touchdown and this time the Seminoles got the two-point conversion to make the score 28-21.

A Drive To Kill The Clock And The FSU Comeback

But that was it for Florida State. Because on the next possession, Wake Forest’s offensive line gave the Demon Deacons everything they could need to finish the game off. Hartman had 30 yards of passing, all of it to Ke’shawn Williams. But the rest was grinding it out. Turner picked up 41 yards on 12 carries as Wake burned 6:37 off the clock. Dennis got the 27-yard field goal to put the game out of reach.

In all, Ellison and Turner combined for 38 carries and 178 yards on the day. That combined with Hartman going 22 of 34 for 234 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. The drive highlighted one of the biggest differentials in the game. Wake Forest ran 85 plays on offense to 63 for Florida State.

A Balanced Offense

Clawson stated the obvious after the game. “I’m in a really good mood right now.” He said it was important to have the running game accountable this week after struggling to maintain a sustained running game much of the young season. “We went into the game and we thought it was really important that we were balanced,” he said after the game. He said the end of the Clemson game, with Wake being forced to throw, was going to be something that stood out to FSU as they watched game film for this week. Clawson said he knew the running game would have to produce.

He gave credit all around. “What a day our o-line had. What a day our backs had,” he said. “It was a great team win.” With regards to the drive that milked so much of the clock at the end of the game, Clawson talked about his offensive line standing up. “They [Florida State], know we’re running it. We know we’re running it. And we still ran it. And that’s the hardest situation to run the ball in football. Everyone in that stadium knew we were going to run it and we still did it. Our o-line really stepped up.”

Hartman called it a team win with contributions from everyone on offense. “In that locker room, its’ everybody celebrating.” He also talked about the team mentality after last week’s loss. “Obviously we could have broken after the Clemson loss,” he said. “But the resilience is huge.”

Getting Past The Noise

The team had to move its flight times Friday, not because of the moving storm in Florida, but because North Carolina was getting hit with heavy winds and rains, and the plane needed to leave before many flights started getting grounded.

Clawson did not miss the opportunity to put his two cents in towards responding to the Florida State fan-driven rumor mill. “Despite what some people might think, we were not scared to play this game. We were very excited to play this game.”

Florida State drops to 4-1 and 2-1 in conference play. They travel to Raleigh next week to play NC State.

Wake Forest has now won three in a row over Florida State. This is the first time they won at Doak Campbell since 2008. The Demon Deacons are now 4-1 overall and 1-1 in ACC play. They return home to Truist Field to play Army next weekend in a game that is already sold out.



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