Well, it wasn't exactly pretty...in the first half. In the end though, the Deacs exploded from a 7-7 tie at the half to trounce the Terps by 3 touchdowns. While Wake was plagued by missed tackles (and questionable officiating) all night long, in the end the offense could pull out the big plays and the D tightened up where necessary, leaving the Deacs bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.
Read more after the jump...The first half was very much a back and forth affair. Wake scored with about five minutes left in the first on a 2 yard pass from Price to TE Cameron Ford in the back of the end zone. Maryland missed a couple of chip shot field goals, but then tied it with a few seconds left in the first half. I was rather upset to say the least, because I dreaded the prospect of Wake not making halftime adjustments and getting blown out in the second half. I don't really have the energy to go through drive by drive, but I will say the following things in general:
-Tanner Price had a very good game. 20/32 for 320 yards, 3 TD's, and no picks. Chris Givens continues to have a monster year and shattered Wake legend Ricky Proehl's single season receiving record and he still has at least one game to go. Chris had 8 receptions for 191 yards and 1 TD, and he was robbed of additional yards on a highly questionable incompletion call. Michael Campanaro also had a good receiving game, 7 catches for 80 yards. As mentioned, Cameron Ford had one of Tanner's other TD's, and Terrence Davis caught the third. Really, our aerial attack was in full effect; it's difficult to complain about that aspect of the game.
-Rushing, things were pretty good too. Tanner had a couple of key scrambles, including a massive 22 yarder. Brandon Pendergrass was solid, with 26 carries for 125 yards and a key TD on a 4th and 1 that really shifted the momentum of the game heavily in favor of the Deacs. Orville Reynolds also had a solid 11 carries for 63 yards including a big time 20 yarder.
-Jimmy Newman was perfect in terms of points on the board, a 25 yard FG and 4/4 on extra points. Jimmy was also solid but not spectacular on kickoffs. Alex Wulfeck was okay but far from great punting, with an average of 39 yards on 5 punts, an average admittedly skewed slightly by a positively surreal blocked punt.
-Our defense honestly did a hell of a job bending but not breaking and tightening up where it was vital, giving up plenty of yards (415), but giving the Terps nothing in the red zone, including forcing them 4 and out when they got the ball 1st and goal within the 10 yard line off of the aforementioned blocked punt. Wake got 1 TO off of a forced fumble (it should've been 2, but I'll get to that) and Bud Noel particularly stood out to me, with solid tackling and some beautiful pass break-ups.
-This had to have been the worst officiated game I've ever seen. Chris was robbed of a second TD catch off of a horrendous DPI no-call. That was the most understandable officiating snafu, too. There was another wherein the play was called on the field as a Maryland fumble recovered by the Deacs. Not only did Wake snap the ball and then the refs retroactively said "there was no play, the previous play is under review" (protip refs: YOU CAN'T DO THAT), they then inexplicably ruled upon review that the Maryland receiver never had possession, despite catching the ball, taking at least 2 steps, and having the presence of mind to keep himself up with a hand on the turf. There was also a terrible DPI call on the Deacs that extended a Maryland drive (which admittedly led to nothing), several missed holding calls, and at least a couple missed late hits on the Terps. I'll come out and say it, I think Maryland got away with some dirty play on D, and it was highly frustrating. Chris was also robbed of another HUGE catch on a horrendous review. I would've been able to forgive one such mistake, but the fact is the horrible officiating (generally in favor of the Terps) was so rampant that I feel the need to note it here. We won handily so it doesn't matter in the end, but since I'm noting impressive performances, I should probably note this. Truly transcendent bad refereeing in this game. There was more sustained, loud booing for the officials in this game than any other I've ever attended, let alone watched from home. Good job, fellas.
We're bowl eligible coming off of a 3 TD win, and there were great plays from a number of Deacs to counterbalance some shaky play at times as well. If the Deacs can build on this win by solidifying their tackling, I think they should be able to handle Vandy next week; without exaggeration, I'd be willing to bet over 50% of Maryland's offense came off of missed Wake tackles. Whether the Deacs improve the tackling or not, I think it will be a tough game against Vandy, but it's certainly winnable, and I'm hoping the boys will play better without the possibility of going 5-7 hanging over their heads.
I honestly don't know if we'd end up bowl-less at 6-6; I don't know what the outlook on that is. But hey guys? Let's take care of Vandy and remove any doubt, okay? Thanks.