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Late Interceptions Doom Wake Forest in 20-19 Loss to the Cardinals

Wake Forest turns the ball over 5 times in the close loss.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals escaped with a 20-19 win over Wake Forest, with turnovers being the story of the game for the Deacons. Louisville outgained Wake 317 yards to 266, and had 17 first downs to Wake's 11. Most importantly, Louisville won the turnover battle 5-1.

First Half

John Wolford got the start at quarterback. The Deacs struggled to get things going, going three-and-out on their first two drives for a total of -7 yards. Fortunately, the defense stood strong and held Louisville to two three-and-outs as well. On the third Wake drive, Wolford threw a 20 yard strike to Tabari Hines on first down, but the drive stalled and Kinal punted from around midfield. Kinal continued to build his legend as Wake's most dangerous weapon as the Louisville returner mishandled the punt and Zack Wary landed on it for a Wake forest 1st and goal from the 8 yard line. Unfortunately, Wake was unable to capitalize with a touchdown. With Hinton in at quarterback, the offense allowed two sacks setting up a 36 yard Mike Weaver field goal to put Wake up 3-0. After another UL drive stalled, Wake took over from its own 18. On 2nd and 6 from the 22, Kendall Hinton lobbed a pass to Cortez Lewis, who was well-covered but nonetheless made an acrobatic one-handed grab, juked two defenders, and tore downfield for a 78 yard score.

Louisville received the ball down 10-0, and over the next 6 minutes drove the ball 62 yards. The defense gave up 2 conversions on third down and 1 more on fourth down, but held the Cardinals to a 37 yard field goal that made it a 10-3 game. After another Wake Forest three-and-out, UL drove down the field and after some penalties ended up with a 2nd and goal from the Wake 14. Louisville QB Lamar Jackson threw a pass to Jamari Staples who reached for the end zone and got the score. The replays sure seemed to show his knee down with the ball inside the 1 yard line, but the play stood on review, making it a tie game at 10-10.

The teams exchanged three-and-outs, and as Wake's offense walked off the field after yet another three-and-out, a whistle was blown for some late unsportsmanlike conduct by UL. Defensive pass interference was called on the next play, but Wake ended up punting after a 42 yard drive (30 of which were off those penalties). Kinal's punt rolled to a stop at the 8, and two plays later Duke Ejiofor blew past his man to take Lamar Jackson down in the end zone for a safety. Wake Forest received the ball up 12-10.

On 3rd and 2 from the Wake 42 yard line, John Wolford got his with a throw to Tabari Hines, who had separation from his defender and sharply cut away from another for a 58 yard touchdown. After the extra point, Wake had a 19-10 lead with 55 seconds left in the half. Louisville received Weaver's kickoff at their own 22 yard line. The Wake secondary was exposed as Lamar Jackson connected on consecutive 28, 10, 18, and 22 yard passes to put together a 78 yard touchdown drive lasting all of 33 seconds.

Just before halftime, junior fullback Charles Argenzio was down on the field for a long time and ended up being taken off on the cart. It was announced he suffered a lower left leg fracture; the injury was gruesome enough that ESPN chose not to replay it. All of our best wishes for a full and speedy recover go out to Chuck.

Second Half

The third quarter was quiet on the scoring front. However, Wake did gives up two turnovers. Early in the quarter, Hinton threw an ill-advised throw while scrambling to escape pressure, which was intercepted around midfield. Fortunately, the defense bailed him out by forcing a Louisville punt. Later, with about three minutes to go in the third, Wolford threw a pass to Chuck Wade that was poorly placed. Wade made a play on the ball but it bounced off his hands and into those of Cardinal defender Chucky Williams, who was tackled by Wolford at the Wake 22. The defense held, allowing no yards, but UL kicked the field goal to go up 20-17.

The ensuing Wake drive went took it into the 4th quarter and moved the ball 57 yards, including 12 yards on a Wolford keeper facing 3rd and 11, and a 32 yard pass to Cam Serigne who shook several defenders off him after the catch. However, on 2nd and 8 from the UL 21 yard line, Wolford's pass to Serigne went off the tight end's hands and right into the hands of a Cardinal defender for the third interception of the second half.

Louisville chewed up 7:21 of game clock in driving 73 yards. After some defensive heroics on 1st and goal, UL set up for a 36 yard field goal, which was blocked by Josh Banks. Several Wake defenders tried to scoop it up but couldn't get a clean grasp and ended up falling on the ball at the Louisville 45. Wolford converted 4th and 3 with a short pass to Tabari Hines. With 3 minutes and half to go in the game, Wolford threw deep to KJ Brent. There was some hand-fighting down the sideline, but the throw was picked off by a UL defender at around the 3 yard line and returned to the Louisville 39. If you're not keeping track, that's four out of five consecutive Wake drives that ended in an interception, including two that were intercepted within Louisville's 15 yard line.

Wake received the ball again at its own 18 yard line with 1:42 to play, down 20-19. With Hinton in to try and save the game for the Deacs, two passes fell incomplete. On third down, Louisville sacked the quarterback, and on fourth they closed things out with a strip sack. From then it was just a matter of running out the clock.

Next week, Wake travels to #9 Notre Dame. Go Deacs.