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Back to their winning ways: Wake Forest capitalizes against Campbell with a 66-14 win

Preview: Campbell Fighting Camels (0-3) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (0-2, 0-2)

It's a return of sorts.

After their game against NC State, Wake's season is on pause; their scheduled game against Notre Dame is postponed to December 12th given outbreaks of COVID-19 which not only affect 18 of the Fighting Irish's players (positive tests), as well as their university president. Combined with previously scheduled opponent Old Dominion (Conference USA) and their decision to postpone fall sports, it leaves the team in a holding pattern.

To date, the Campbell is doing a "split" schedule of sorts. As a member of the Big South Conference, they take advantage of the option to play 4 nonconference fall games as they hope to have a league schedule next spring (2021). Coming in with an 0-3 record, including a tough 27-26 season opening loss to Georgia Southern (on September 12th), the youth laden team coached by former NFL defensive back (a 10-year career, all with the Carolina Panthers) Mike Minter is led by dual-threat sophomore quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams (475 passing yards, 2 touchdowns/1 interception, along with 4 rushing touchdowns and 172 rushing yards) and wide receiver Jalen Kelsey (159 receiving yards, averaging 13.3 yards per catch). Running back CJ Furman's absence (148 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry) clearly puts junior running back Bryant Barr (122 rushing yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry) in a pivotal role.

As for the Deacs, quarterback Sam Hartman (418 yards passing, 1 touchdown), running back Kenneth Walker III (150 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns), and Taylor Morin (145 receiving yards and 1 touchdown) are preparing to pace the offence. With time to address areas of concern, including containing the run game, defensive leaders and captains Carlos "Boogie" Basham (defensive end) and Ja'Sir Taylor (defensive back) are ready to get into the win column.

First half highlights: Campbell Fighting Camels vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Camels would receive the opening kickoff; their opening drive showcases their ball-control offense, including a key 36-yard reception by Bryant Barr to put the offense on Wake's 7-yard line for a first and goal. After a pass interference penalty gives them a new set of downs starting at the Deacs' 2-yard line (first and goal), the defense pushes them back to the 9-yard line; the 27-yard missed field goal deflates the nearly 7-minute drive.

Subsequently, the Deacs respond, and do so in a little over 3 minutes. A key 40-yard reception by A.T. Perry sets up a first and goal from the Campbell 4-yard line, and Christian Beal-Smith does the rest, giving them a 7-0 lead with a little over 4 minutes left in the quarter. Energized by the offense and their defensive stand, the Wake defense keeps the momentum going on the very next Campbell possession; Traveon Redd's interception sets the Wake offense up at the Camels' 21-yard line. However, a missed field goal by Nick Sciba allows Campbell to stay in the game, but only for a moment. On the very next play, Bryant Barr fumbles thanks to a solid effort by Chase Jones, the defense's 2nd forced turnover. Three carries and 22 yards later by Beal-Smith (including his 10-yard touchdown run with 1:49 left in the first quarter) puts the Deacs up 14-0.

Campbell's possession to end the quarter leading into the second shows a sense of resolve. During the drive, Williams shakes off being sacked by Wake's Boogie Basham, methodically leading the team on a 15-play, 75-yard drive, taking 6 minutes off the clock. Capped off by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Mason Donaldson, the lead is reduced to a one-score deficit (14-7 with 8:42 left in the second quarter).

Just as their previous drive, Wake strikes quickly. Kenneth Walker III's 27-yard run gets the energy flowing, and capped off by an 11 and 12-yard run (the second of which leads to a touchdown with 6:29 left in the second quarter), the Deacs push their lead to 21-7. The defense closes out the half stopping Campbell's two drives, and a field goal by Nick Sciba (0:51 left in the second quarter) gives them a 24-7 halftime lead.

Second half highlights: Campbell Fighting Camels vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Coming into the second half, Wake's focus is to put the game away, and early on, the team clearly is focused. In the opening 2:30 of the third quarter, a pair of completions to A.T. Perry and a 22-yard run by Kenneth Walker III sets up a touchdown pass from Sam Hartman to Taylor Morin to push the lead to 31-7. On the next series by the Camels, Wake scores their second consecutive game with a pick-6 thanks to a 45-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Zion Keith (11:26 in the 3rd quarter), expanding the lead to 38-7.

After the Wake defense holds firm (a 3-play and out drive by Campbell), the Wake offense is keyed by a 23-yard run by Christian Beal-Smith to get to the Campbell 28-yard line; he would later cap off the 10-play 76-yard drive with a 5-yard plunge into the end zone, making it a 45-7 game (6:28 left in the 3rd quarter). The Camels would come back with a quick strike scoring drive (6-plays 75-yards) of their own, highlighted by a creative play by Mason Donaldson throwing the ball back to quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams for a 26-yard touchdown at the 4:26 mark of the quarter (45-14).

While highlight reel worthy, Wake pulls a highlight reel move of their own. On the subsequent kickoff, Donavon Green races for an electrifying 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (4:12 mark of the 3rd quarter), essentially taking the wind out of the Camels' sails (52-14). Even though Campbell would have another time-consuming (11-play 69-yard 5:11 long) drive, just as their opening drive (of the game) resulted in them being empty handed, the same would happen as the drive leads into the 4th quarter. A fumble by Williams (forced by Wake's Ja'Cquez Williams) gives the Wake offense another opportunity. Directd by backup quarterback Michael Kern, two key receptions by Ke'Shawn Williams pace the offense, and Justice Ellison's 7-yard touchdown run gives them a 59-14 lead with 11:06 left in the game.

Wake would add another score at the 5:09 mark of the 4th quarter (8-yard touchdown run by Will Drawdy) making it a 66-14 game and win for the Deacs.

Game takeaways: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-2, 0-2) defeat the Campbell Fighting Camels (0-4), 66-14

Wake's offense outgains Campbell (574 total yards to 362 total yards) even though the Camels win the time of possession battle (34:33 to 25:27). The Deacs' defense forcing 4 turnovers is key in keeping Campbell at bay, while Wake continues to protect the football (zero turnovers). While Wake has a slight advantage in the passing game (275 yards to 242 yards), an area of notice is in the running game. The Wake defense shows improvement in allowing 120 rushing yards on 38 attempts (a 3.2 yards per carry average), while the offense's commitment to the running game results in a season high 6.6 yards per game (299 rushing yards on 45 carries).

Sam Hartman's efficient effort (12/16 with 166 passing yards and a touchdown) clearly contributes to the Wake win. Both Christian Beal-Smith (20 carries for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Kenneth Walker III (11 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown) eclipse the 100 yard mark, as the Deacs have their second consecutive game with a 100-yard rushing effort. A.T. Perry's 81 receiving yards (on 6 receptions) pace the passing game, and in addition to not punting the entire game, the 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Donavon Greene Wake's first since 2007. Likewise, the Bermuda Boyz (the Wake Forest secondary) keep their pick-6 streak going with tonight's interception return for a touchdown by Zion Keith, adding to the previous one by Ja'Sir Taylor (against NC State).

A key defensive player for the Deacs, Luke Masterson, is seen on the sidelines in a walking boot; an update on his status is expected in the coming days.

Campbell quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams accounts for 240 total yards of offense (187 passing with 1 touchdown pass and 2 interceptions, 37 rushing, and his 26-yard touchdown reception). Leading rusher Bryant Barr is limited to 14 carries with 42 yards, and leading receiver Jalen Kelsey adds 6 receptions for 62 yards. The Fighting Camels' fall season concludes as they'll prepare for conference play this spring. The Deacs' next game is scheduled for October 17th at home against the Virginia Cavaliers (the time to be determined).

Given the pandemic, tonight's game is the first major-college sporting event with fans allowed to attend. Per the state of North Carolina, there's a 7% of stadium capacity limit; an estimated 2,200 people attended tonight's game.

Photo gallery (all photo credit is to the ACC Media Portal):

  1. Wake defensive lineman Miles Fox puts pressure on Campbell quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams.

  2. Wake quarterback Sam Hartman hands off to Kenneth Walker III; his 105 rushing yards makes it his second game in a row breaking the century mark.

  3. The Wake defense celebrates after forcing one of their 4 turnovers against Campbell.

  4. Zion Keith's pick-6 (interception return for a touchdown) extends the Wake lead to 38-7. This is the second consecutive game where the Bermuda Boyz have an interception returned for a touchdown.

  5. Christian Beal-Smith breaks the plane for one of his 3 rushing touchdowns to pace the Wake rushing attack.

  6. Wake's Christian Beal-Smith breaks free against the Campbell defense; he averages 6.5 yards a carry (20 carries for 130 yards) and combined with Kenneth Walker III's 105 yards, the offense collects a season high 299 yards on the ground (averaging 6.6 yards per carry).


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