WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forget those old times of futility, and don’t even worry about having to play football in a hurricane. Wake Forest is winning, and the way the Demon Deacons beat Syracuse 28-9 on Saturday night was methodical.
John Wolford ran for two touchdowns and a career-best 94 yards, and threw for 140 yards to lead Wake Forest (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Wolford was 13 of 22 and scored from the 7 and 37-yard line in the second quarter. Cade Carney, a freshman who had missed the three previous games with a knee injury, added 104 yards rushing on 29 carries, including a fourth-quarter touchdown for the Demon Deacons.
Cameron Glenn returned a fumble 83 yards for a TD with 1:30 remaining to seal it for Wake Forest.
“We played really well defensively. We were concerned because the other Power 5 teams we’ve played have thrown the ball and got off to fast starts,” said Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson. “We preached fast start all week.”
Dontae Strickland carried 13 times for 74 yards and a score to lead the Orange (2-4, 0-2). Eric Dungey was 16 of 25 for 156 yards passing.
The game was played through the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew, with a steady rain through the first half.
“In the first half we drove the ball consistently in those conditions, Wolford said. “And then we had the drive in the fourth quarter. It’s good to be able to close out games like we did tonight.”
Syracuse forced a safety on the Deacons’ opening drive. Dungey’s pass from the Wake Forest 12 was picked off by Amari Henderson in the end zone with a second left in the first half and the Deacons leading 14-9.
“We knew when the game started, with the weather the game was going to come down to turnovers and who was able to execute and stay patient the longest,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “We had some costly turnovers, three-and-outs, and some bad situations. Those really forced us to do some things down the stretch to put it back in their favor.”
Wake Forest paid tribute to late alumnus Arnold Palmer with a pregame video tribute and his trademark umbrella logo painted at the 50-yard line.
SYRACUSE: The Orange had their four-game win streak snapped against the Demon Deacons, and have lost four of its last five games. Syracuse could not move the ball consistently, picking up just two first downs in the first quarter and none in the third.
WAKE FOREST: The Demon Deacons are 5-1 for just the eighth time in the program, their first since 2006. The 1944 team started 7-0. Wolford managed a solid game despite indicating pain in his right throwing hand for most of the second half.
“It was a stinger,” Wolford said. “I’ve had those before. That was why I was shaking my hand. I think the rain affected my passes, too. I’ve got to make some of those throws that I missed.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
It was Henderson’s first career interception, which kept the Orange from stealing the lead at halftime, or for that matter scoring anymore points. The redshirt freshman, who was in on four tackles, has broken up six passes.
Wake Forest senior linebacker Marquel Lee had a career-best 15 tackles, included 12 solo tackles and a pair of sacks. “We knew they like to go fast, and we had to punch them in the mouth and force some three-and-outs and get them off the field,” Lee said.
SYRACUSE: The Orange host No. 25 Virginia Tech on Saturday, then travel to Boston College on Oct. 22. The Orange have their bye-week before their last four ACC contests.
WAKE FOREST: The Deacons travel next Saturday to No. 23 Florida State. They then have an open date before hosting Army, followed with three of their last four ACC games at home.