With the 2017 football season right around the corner, we figured that in order to get everyone properly hyped for some Wake Forest football we could go back in time and look at the best plays from last year. To rank the plays, we took 15 highlights from the 2016 season, had some of the writers rank them 1-15, and added up the total score (lowest score wins). So let’s hop in the DeLorean, throttle up to 88 miles per hour, and take a look back at the top 10 plays from the 2016 season.
Before the top 10, here are the honorable mention plays:
10. Cam Serigne 41 yard TD Catch vs Temple
After an interception on the opening drive and a 48 yard TD bomb from Temple 1 play later, it looked as though the Deacs could be in trouble early. However, on the next drive, the Deacs would go uptempo and use a quick pace to catch Temple off guard and get Serigne wide open deep to get Wake Forest on the board and tie the game at 7.
9. Duke Ejiofor Tackle For Loss on 3rd and 1 Late vs Temple
With under 2 minutes to go, Temple got the ball back to attempt 1 last drive to tie the game. On 3rd and 1, the Owls attempted to run the ball up the middle for the first down, and were stuffed by Ejiofor. Instead of the clock stopping and the Owls getting a first down, they were forced to scramble to get a 4th down play together as the clock continued to tick. This would ultimately lead to the Deacs winning their first bowl game since 2008.
8. Duke Ejiofor/Willie Yarbary Sack for 22 Yard loss vs Temple
After falling behind 31-7, Temple managed to make a comeback in the second half, closing the gap to 31-23. The Owls worked their way back into scoring position, and had the ball 2nd and goal from the 6 yard line. Thankfully, Yarbary broke through the line and applied pressure, causing Temple QB Phillip Walker to try his best Cam Newton impersonation. This allowed Ejiofor to drop Walker for a loss of 22. Instead of 3rd and goal from short with a high percentage chance at a touchdown and potentially tying the game, the Owls had to play it safe and play for the field goal.
7. Jessie Bates Pick in the End Zone vs Indiana
After the Hoosiers scored on the first play of the game, they got the ball back and were driving, threatening to go up 14-0. Jessie Bates made sure they weren’t able to get any points off of the possession by intercepting the tipped pass and taking it out of the end zone to give the Deacs great field position at the 40 yard line. Wake Forest would go on to score a touchdown and tie the game on that possession.
6. John Wolford 64 Yard TD Run vs UVA
John Wolford showed some impressive speed on his way to the end zone from 64 yards out. This TD would give the Deacs the lead and some momentum as they would go on to take a 17-6 lead at the half in what turned out to be a crucial game for Wake Forest.
5. Cameron Glenn 83 Yard Fumble Recovery TD vs Syracuse
Brad Watson forced the fumble, and Cameron Glenn had the awareness to scoop it up and start running. After some nice blocking from the rest of the defense, Glenn was in the clear, and he took it 83 yards to the house. This play was the exciting reward for those that braved Hurricane Matthew to cheer on the Deacs.
4. John Armstrong 80 Yard Kickoff Return vs Temple
After Temple kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 5 with a little under 4 minutes left, I’m sure plenty of fans started to worry (I know I did) that the Deacs were going to play conservatively, run the ball 3 times up the middle, and punt it back to Temple. While we did end up running 3 times up the middle, we were able to kick a field goal and increase the lead back to 8 after Armstrong took the Temple kickoff 80 yards to the 15 yard line. This return ensured that Wake Forest could eat the clock, score points, and most importantly, not lose on the final possession of the game, which I’m sure took some pressure off the defense.
3. Jessie Bates Pick 6 vs Indiana
With the game tied, Freshman ball hawk Jessie Bates was in the right place at the right time again for his 2nd interception of the game. He took this one 55 yards all the way to the end zone to give the Deacs a lead that they wouldn’t lose for the rest of the game on their way to beating Indiana and starting the season 4-0.
2. Cade Carney 55 Yard TD Run vs Duke
After a pretty ugly 7-3 win over Tulane, it was hard to tell what to expect from the Deacs in 2016. That changed with the Duke game, as Freshman workhorse Cade Carney would go for over 100 yards and 3 TD’s, including this break away TD on 3rd and 1 in the 3rd quarter. This one broke the 14-14 tie, giving Wake Forest the lead, and they never looked back. This would serve as an early indication that things were looking up in 2016.
1. Jessie Bates Pick 6 vs UVA
With the game tied 20-20, Jessie Bates would once again make his presence felt as he stepped in front of the errant Kurt Benkert pass, and returned it 39 yards for the touchdown to give Wake Forest the lead. This would ultimately be the score that won the game for the Deacs, giving them their 6th win and bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011. As the Deacs finished the regular season 6-6, this interception became the most crucial play of the season to getting the Deacs into a bowl game.
So there you have it, our top 10 plays of the 2016 season. If you disagree with our rankings or think we missed a play that should have been included, let us know in the comments. For reference, here’s how everyone voted: