Wake Forest put up 31 first-half points en route to a 34-26 victory over #24 Temple in the Military Bowl. The Deacs were led by Thomas Brown, who finished with 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, and a pass defended, was named the game’s MVP. Wake Forest led 31-10 at halftime, but held on in the second half despite losing John Wolford to a neck strain.
Wake’s start to the bowl game couldn’t have been much worse, as John Wolford threw an interception, and Temple immediately capitalized when Phillip Walker connected with Adonis Jennings for a 48-yard touchdown to put Temple up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Deacs answered shortly thereafter when John Wolford found Cam Serigne for a 41-yard touchdown pass to even the game. Wake was playing with more tempo than any time that I can recall in the regular season.
The Deacs took the lead just 3 minutes later after Tabari Hines took a screen pass 20 yards to the house to put Wake up 14-7. That capped off a 4-play, 54-yard drive that took just 57 seconds.
The most deserving recipient of the game ball, Coach Big Daddy Faircloth. pic.twitter.com/YCa0rJOaxu— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) December 28, 2016
Wake special teams were opportunistic towards the start of the second quarter when they pounced on a muffed punt at the Temple 12-yard line. Cade Carney immediately answered with an 11-yard touchdown run to give Wake a 21-7 lead. At that point, I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. 21 points? In a half?
Wake Forest wins the Military Bowl!— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 28, 2016
The Demon Deacons upset No. 24 Temple for school's first bowl victory and winning season since 2008. pic.twitter.com/9fzAoNjCXm
The Deacs’ defense was big several drives later when Duke Ejiofor intercepted a pass after Demetrius Kemp made the initial deflection. Matt Colburn was pivotal on the subsequent drive and put the Deacs up an #unpresidented 31-7 lead. Temple nearly finished the first half with a touchdown, but the defense made a critical third-down stop that caused Temple to kick a field goal to cut the deficit to 31-10.
The second half was far from euphoria, but it was good enough. The defense immediately gave up a touchdown, and allowed Temple to score 19 unanswered and make it 31-26, Wake Forest. Wake’s offense fell off after John Wolford went out with the neck strain. Kyle Kearns had his moments, but threw a costly interception into double coverage when Wake Forest approached the red zone. After that, I thought Wake went extremely conservative and became a very predictable offense.
Senior Johnny Armstrong was special on special teams for Wake Forest when he returned a kickoff 80 yards to the Temple 15 yard line. Temple only had one timeout remaining, but Wake Forest was unable to get the first down to essentially finish the game. Still, Mike Weaver made a field goal to put the Deacs back up by 8. With two minutes remaining, it all came down to Wake Forest needing its defense to make one final stop, which was the theme of the season.
Wake special teams allowed a long return that put Temple at midfield. It was third and one at the Wake 44, but the Deacs had great penetration to make it 4th and 3. With no timeouts remaining, Temple was in scramble mode. The subsequent play was a failed pass to the right, and it was academic from there.
Incredible win for Coach Clawson and his staff. Wake Forest went to its first bowl game since 2011 and finished with its first winning season and bowl victory since 2008. We’ll have a lot of coverage about this game and the season in the coming days. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the win. Go Deacs!