Wolford rallies Wake Forest over Army 24-21
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson doesn't allow true freshmen to talk to reporters early in their first college season.
John Wolford is no typical wide-eyed rookie, enough so that Clawson is close to giving in.
''You're going to be able to talk to him soon,'' Clawson said, smiling, after Wolford threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter Saturday in a 24-21 comeback win over Army.
''He's so efficient,'' added Clawson. ''He's just a cool-headed customer. He really is.''
Buoyed by the best protection he's had all season and a running game that finally produced a little, Wolford saved his best for last.
Wolford twice connected on third-down passes on the decisive drive before finding E.J. Scott over the middle for a 12-yard TD with 6:45 left to put Wake Forest (2-2) ahead to stay.
Isaiah Robinson recorded Wake Forest's first touchdown of the season and the Demon Deacons shut out Army in the second half to beat the Black Knights for the eighth straight time.
''John's a special case, the poise he shows,'' said receiver Matt James, who caught seven passes for 64 yards. ''Nothing fazes the kid.''
Coming off a disappointing loss at Utah State in which Wolford was sacked six times, Wake Forest gained much-needed confidence heading into a brutal two-game road trip to Louisville and Florida State to open Atlantic Coast Conference play.
''We're probably not going to be favored in most of those games,'' guard Cory Helms said. ''It gives us good momentum and confidence, too.''
Angel Santiago rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown for Army (1-2), but he was stripped by Wendell Dunn and Wake Forest's Tylor Harris recovered the fumble near midfield with under 3 minutes left.
Army, which last beat an ACC team on the road in 2010 at Duke, ran out of steam after an effective first half.
''They didn't do anything differently, we did,'' Army coach Jeff Monken said. ''We didn't block them, we got penalties. About every drive in the second half got stopped by a penalty, except maybe one three-and-out. The rest, we had a penalty that set us back. It's just foolish, stupid penalties.''
Coming off a 35-0 loss at Stanford and being 0-5 at Wake Forest, Monken had the Black Knights gambling early.
Army converted a fourth down in its own territory before Larry Dixon's 5-yard touchdown run - the 20th of his career - tied it at 7 late in the first quarter.
Army's ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, giving Wake Forest good field position and leading to Wolford's 6-yard TD pass to Cam Serigne.
And Joe Walker's halfback pass to Xavier Moss on third down led to a 4-yard TD and a 21-14 Army lead at halftime.
Led by Santiago, the Black Knights' shifty running quarterback, the Black Knights rolled up 232 yards on the ground in the first half, including Santiago's 1-yard TD plunge.
But Wake Forest showed more discipline in defending Army's triple-option in the second half. The Black Knights finished with 341 yards rushing and 18 yards passing.
''We weren't getting anybody on the perimeter,'' Clawson said of their first-half woes containing Santiago. ''They were faking that dive and the quarterback was getting on the edge and we were playing the pitch.''
With Wake Forest defending better, Army also wasted chances to build on its lead. Daniel Grochowski shanked a 40-yard field goal to end the half, and Walker fumbled a pitch inside the Wake Forest 20 in the third quarter.
Coming in with the second-worst rushing game in the nation at 22.7 yards per game, the Demon Deacons showed some brief promise on the ground, too.
Robinson, another true freshman, rumbled 15 yards for a first-quarter TD on a drive in which he picked up 40 yards rushing. Orville Reynolds later picked up 36 yards - the longest rush of the season for Wake Forest - to set up the winning touchdown.
Robinson rushed for a first down with just over 2 minutes left to end Army's chances.
''We didn't do anything really that well,'' Monken said.
Wolford completed 25 of 35 passes, and shook off Jeremy Timpf's second-quarter interception. He was sacked only once.
''As much as that kid got hit last week, you would think he'd be jittery in the pocket,'' Clawson said. ''But he doesn't flinch.''