Syracuse loses third straight, 64-43 to Wake Forest
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- John Wolford passed for three touchdowns and ran for three more, accounting for 499 yards of total offense, and Wake Forest overcame a 14-yard halftime deficit to defeat Syracuse 64-43 on Saturday and clinch a bowl berth.
"Our goal is not just to be bowl eligible. We want to get a few more before it's all over," said Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson.
Wolford was 25-of-38 for 363 yards passing and rushed for 136 more, the first 100-plus-yard game rushing in his career. He has accounted for 69 touchdowns in his career, shattering the school record of 65.
Wolford scored on runs of 3, 9, and 29 yards. His 29-yard run with 11:48 left in the game gave Wake Forest a 47-43 lead and capped a furious rally. The Demon Deacons (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 38-24 at halftime but outscored Syracuse (4-6, 2-4) 40-5 in the second half.
"In the second half we were a different team," said Clawson. "Our offense was just clicking. It was a great team. At halftime I told our players you could stay down or look at this as an opportunity to be great. It's one of the best wins we've had in the last four years."
Clawson said his team "tweaked a few things" at the half, "then challenged our players to play defense."
"A lot of the touchdowns we gave up were on missed assignments. We were blowing assignments and not doing our jobs."
Tight end Cam Serigne caught touchdown passes of 31, 19 and 6 yards. His 6-yard touchdown gave Wake Forest a 54-43 margin. Matt Colburn ran for 237 yards on 31 carries and scored on a 76-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The teams accounted for 1,355 yards -- 734 by Wake, the most in school history.
Syracuse must win its final two games -- at Louisville and at home against Boston College -- to secure its first bowl berth in four years.
"We're extremely disappointed," said Syracuse coach Dino Babers. "We have to do a lot better than we what we did out there today. We have another opportunity next week. All of our dreams are not dead but we need to play a lot better than we did today... We have to find a way to get a win on the road."
Playing without star quarterback Eric Dungey, Syracuse didn't miss a beat -- at least in the first half -- with backup Zack Mahoney. Mahoney was 22-of-35 for 297 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half, but was just 11-of-25 for 87 yards after intermission.
Ravian Pierce had two touchdown receptions for Syracuse and Steve Ishmael had 14 receptions for 145 yards.
Wake Forest scored on its first three possessions, but then the Syracuse defense stiffened, forcing four consecutive punts before Mike Weaver hit a 41-yard field goal as time ran out in the second quarter to make it 38-24 at halftime.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons can now celebrate a successful season and its offense is in high gear with Wolford leading the way.
Syracuse: This was a demoralizing loss for Syracuse. After building a 38-24 lead at the half, the defense crumbled and now the Orange faces the daunting task of winning two straight to make it into the postseason.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons begin a two-game home stand to close out the season. First up: Saturday against North Carolina State.
Syracuse: The Orange has another key game, Saturday at Louisville. Last season, Lamar Jackson dominated Syracuse last year.