A day with the Deacs

The first weekend in November.

As the foliage changes, so too can the fortunes of teams as they head into the gauntlet of their regular season, specifically conference play.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-1, 2-1) and NC State Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2) come into today's games with their conference and larger goals in sight. Wake has the advantage winning the last 2 games in the series (27-23 in 2018 at Raleigh and 30-24 in 2017 in Winston-Salem), both of which are high-profile (ESPN Thursday night games). Coming off their second bye, they hope to maintain their winning ways against the Wolfpack. The injury bug has impacted both teams, as the Deacons' linebacker Justin Strnad (a Butkus Award candidate for top linebacker in the country) is out for the season; for the Wolfpack, seven of their projected or actual starters are out to the season due to injury, along with 3 of their 4 team captains.

Wake's offense (523.9 yards per game and 37.1 points per game) still has them towards the top of the conference, while NC State's defense (22.7 points allowed per game) creates an intriguing matchup. Jaime Newman is projected to returning to run the offense (1772 passing yards in 6 starts), and with wideout Sage Surratt only 119 yards from a 1,000 yard season (receiving yards), the team looks to getting off to a fast start. A hallmark of NC State's offense is their ability to protect the ball, as they have only committed 6 turnovers (yet only forced 5),and in an ironic twist, former Wake receiver Tabari Hines is a graduate transfer (from Wake to Oregon) and is part of the Wolfpack receiving corps.

And another chapter in the rivalry (as NC State holds the overall advantage, 66-40-6, making the Deacs the team they have faced the most in their 127 years of college football) unfolds.

1st Half: NC State Wolfpack vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Given the surge in energy thanks to the open practice by the men's basketball team and the pre-game introduction with former Wake head coach (along with former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts head coach) Jim Caldwell, Wake clearly comes out with "the juice". After the defense halts the Wolfpack's game opening possession, a solid run-pas mix with some key receptions by Kendall Hinton lead to a 20-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jamie Newman (7-0 with 8:34 in the 1st quarter). On the very next play, Wake's special teams comes up with a turnover as they force a fumble by NC State's Keyon Lesane. A 5-yard touchdown reception by tight-end Jack Freudenthal puts Wake up 14-0 (7:41 in the 1st quarter). An interception by Amari Henderson halts another Wolfpack drive, and again, thanks to a solid run-pass mix, Newman scores on a 2-yard run, putting the lead to 21-0.

And that is just the 1st quarter.

The Deacons' offense tacks on a 25-yard field goal by Nick Sciba (12:26 in the 2nd quarter) to push the lead to 24-0. Thanks to a roughing the passer call, the Wolfpack are able to climb back into the game thanks to some solid runs by Jordan Houston and Trent Pennix, and after a 3-yard touchdown pass from Devin Leary (who is making his first start of the season) to tight end Cary Angeline (to trail 24-7). On the very next drive, Newman, in complete command of the offense, directs the team to another touchdown, his second touchdown pass to Freudenthal (2-yard reception) to put the Deacs on top by a 31-7 margin. The Wolfpack are able to generate another score thanks to a 40-yard field goal by Christopher Dunn (to trail 31-10 with 4:16 left in the half), but before the end of the 1st half, Wake's offense (which outgains NC State in total yards with a 285-177 advantage) tacks on another field goal (by Sciba) with 23 seconds left in the half to take a 34-10 halftime lead.

2nd Half: NC State Wolfpack vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Demon Deacons open the 2nd half with another strong offensive drive. A 59-yard reception by Scotty Washington puts Wake inside the Wolfpack 5-yard line, and Newman connects to Freudenthal for the 3rd time (touchdown) in the game, making it a 41-10 lead (with 13:38 in the 3rd quarter). On the responding drive by the Wolfpack, Henderson comes up big again with his second interception of the game. As a result, the Deacs add another Sciba field goal at the 9:59 mark, making it a 44-10 game.

While that would be the last time Wake would score, their defense pitches a shutout of the Wolfack for the 2nd half.

Wake's defense harasses Devin Leary essentially all game, as he is limited to 149 passing yards (17 completions in 45 attempts), is sacked twice, and is forced into 2 interceptions. Running back Jordan Houston leads the Pack with 53 rushing yards (on 11 carries) and Cary Angeline's 46 receiving yards, including his touchdown reception, are among the bright spots for NC State; the Deacs' defensive and special teams efforts are extremely solid, as they allow 265 total yards (offense) along with 11 yards per punt return and 10.3 yards per kickoff return (including the forced fumble and recovery).

Jamie Newman's 287 passing yards (25 completions in 38 attempts) produce 3 passing touchdowns (all to tight end Jack Freudenthal, who contributes 16 receiving yards), and he adds 46 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns. Kenneth Walker's 64 rushing yards lead the running attack, and solid efforts by wideouts Kendall Hinton (6 receptions for 93 yards), Sage Surratt (9 receptions for 67 yards), and Scotty Washington (who before leaving the game in the 3rd quarter, has 3 receptions for 84 yards). The offense's ability to control the game is evident as they compile 418 total yards, as well as dominate the time of possession battle (nearly 37 minutes compared to just over 23 minutes for NC State).

With a 7-1 overall record (3-1 in the ACC), including their first win under Coach Dave Clawson in coming off a bye week, the Deacons continue to forge ahead during the month of November. With 4 weeks remaining, they are still in position to make a deep run in the conference.

As they say, it's a week to week game, and the team continues to make positive strides each week.

Post-game: NC State Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1)

Head coach Dave Clawson notes the team's continued improvement with their special teams play, as well as the overall team play in their 44-10 win. The team's continued ability to pay attention to detail, and playing with a balance of focus and intensity, are key to their success (click HERE to watch the full press conference).

Defensive back Amari Henderson (2 interceptions, 4 pass breakups, and 6 tackles [5 solo and one assist]) notes the team's overall preparation and ability to execute as keys to the team's win (click HERE to watch his interview).

The next scheduled game for the Deacs in November 9th at the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-3 overall and 3-2 in the ACC). NC State's next game is November 9th as they host Clemson (8-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC) for their homecoming.

Photos taken by Andrew Snorton.

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