Oct. 9, 2010
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By Rob Daniels
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Not that they keep track of such things, but the Wake Forest Demon Deacons may have set a record for disheartening last-minute home losses in a month.
Déjà vu became déjà blue when Navy's triple-option offense, doing almost exactly what Georgia Tech's triple-option offense had done a week earlier, drove more than 60 yards in around two minutes and hit the game-winning pass with less than 30 seconds to play. This time, the actors were Midshipmen quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who faked the option keeper and found Greg Jones in the back of the end zone with 26.4 ticks on the clock, and kicker Joe Buckley, who added the extra point to deliver a 28-27 win.
Ten plays and 64 yards in 1 minute, 42 seconds. It felt very much like the Yellow Jackets' 69-yard, 12-play march that consumed 2:06 on the same field seven nights earlier.
"The deal for every young football team is that they get to the point where they're tired of watching the other team celebrate at the end of the game," Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said. "When that starts happening, we'll start winning games.
"They have to get to the point where they are determined they are not going to have that bad feeling at the end of the game."
The similarities covered the obvious - a running team that passed its way to victory - and the sublime - the winner's color scheme of blue and gold. At any rate, the Deacs stand 2-4 at the season's midway point.
"So mad," linebacker Gelo Orange said. "Frustrated right now. I can't really say anything else."
The result overshadowed a terrific performance from Tanner Price, who authored the best statistical day of a true freshman quarterback in Wake history: 37 completions in 53 attempts for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Finding secondary options when the primaries were taken away, Price made a good living out of the intermediate pass all night. Only four of the 37 completions went for more than 15 yards, but that was fine. Wake developed a ball-control offense through the air after having considerable trouble in that area in the season's first five games.
"They ran a lot of eight-man coverages, leaving the flat and the underneath stuff pretty much open," Price said.
"I think Tanner grew up tonight," Grobe said. "He did a nice job of hitting the controlled routes underneath."
The Deacs ultimately paid - as they had a week earlier - for failing to turn a red-zone possession into a touchdown in the final minutes. They led Navy 24-21 in the fourth quarter when Josh Harris' five-yard run on first down to the Navy 6 was invalidated by holding. The Deacs couldn't cash in and had to settle for a Jimmy Newman field goal that kept the score at one possession.
Wake Forest held on the subsequent Midshipmen possession and got the ball back with 3:13 left with a chance to run out the clock. One first down would have almost certainly done it, but it didn't materialize.
The Mids forced a punt and found themselves 64 yards from the end zone with a two-minute drill - their least favorite situation - in the immediate future. The feeling of foreboding at BB&T Field became apparent when Gee Gee Green got behind the defense and took a Dobbs pass to the 15 with 77 seconds left. Dobbs got rid of the ball a split second before Wake's A.J. Marshall, untouched on a blitz off the left edge, hit him. That spelled the difference between a welcomed sack and a 34-yard gain that put the Mids in business to bleed the clock and win the game.
Dobbs executed a roll-out option pass perfectly and had Jones open in the corner of the end zone near Deacon Hill. He was on target, and the Deacs were headed for another tough one.
"We're halfway through the season; youth isn't an excuse anymore - whether you're a true freshman or a fifth-year senior," wide receiver Devon Brown said.
Wake held both Navy and Georgia Tech well below their customary rushing totals, and it compelled an inordinate number of passes from both. History says if you make the offense, brought to both institutions by coach Paul Johnson, throw more than 15 times, you're probably going to win. Only once in the previous 52 games had the Mids gone airborne as often as they did Saturday (19 passes.)
"Didn't make plays when they counted the most," Brown said, discussing the team in general. "We played well for 95 percent of the game, but in winning time, we didn't make the plays we had to make."
If anything, the Deacons' task gets tougher. They're at suddenly resurgent Virginia Tech next week.
"It's not easy," Price said. "It's tough to lose two games back-to-back like this, but you have to stay positive and try to move on."
Wake Forest 7, Navy 0 (12:44, 1st Quarter)
Set up by a 53-yard return of the opening kickoff by Michael Campanaro, the Deacs took only five plays to drive the final 38 yards, helped along by a 15-yard diving catch by Chris Givens, and scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Tanner Price.
Wake Forest 7, Navy 7 (7:34, 1st Quarter)
Navy responded midway through the first quarter on an 11-play, 68-yard drive, which consisted of nine rushes and only two passes, including one from Ricky Dobbs to Alexander Teich for the touchdown. The extra point was initially missed by Jon Buckley, but an offsides call on Wake's Kenny Okoro allowed a re-try which Buckley converted.
Wake Forest 10, Navy 7 (13:24, 2nd Quarter)
Wake Forest re-took the lead early in the second quarter on a 45-yard kick from Jimmy Newman. The 9-play, 39-yard drive nearly ended on Navy's 31-yard line, but Josh Harris converted the 4th and 1 situation into a first down. The Deacs only gained four more yards after that play, but it was just enough to get into field goal range.
Navy 14, Wake Forest 10 (10:12, 2nd Quarter)
The Midshipmen took their first lead of the night on a 7-play, 67-yard drive, culminating in a 3-yard touchdown scramble by Dobbs. Gee Gee Greene kept the drive going in the red zone, giving Navy a first-and-goal situation after converting a third-down run from the 6-yard line.
Wake Forest 17, Navy 14 (0:12, 2nd Quarter)
The Deacs came back strong and took back the lead just before halftime on an 11-yard strike from Price to Givens. It was Price's third pass of more than ten yards on the 11-play, 84-yard drive, the second of which went nineteen yards to Cameron Ford, who broke two tackles before going down at Navy's 19-yard line. Price was 9-of-9 on the drive for 79 yards.
Navy 21, Wake Forest 17 (11:59, 3rd Quarter)
Dobbs had his second rushing touchdown of the game on another 3-yard rush, putting the Midshipmen back in front with the third lead change of the night. The 8-play, 78-yard drive was highlighted by a 41-yard run from Dobbs to the Wake Forest 22-yard line.
Wake Forest 24, Navy 21 (1:08, 3rd Quarter)
Price threw his second touchdown pass of the night on a 12-yarder to Devon Brown, giving the Deacs the lead once again. On the 10-play, 70-yard drive, Price was 5-of-6 for 59 yards, including a 20-yard completion to Danny Dembry on the first play. Harris also had a crucial 15-yard run to Navy's 28-yard line.
Wake Forest 27, Navy 21 (8:34, 4th Quarter)
The Deacs increased their lead to six midway through the fourth quarter on a 31-yard field goal from Jimmy Newman. The drive appeared to be headed for a touchdown, but a holding call on Michael Hoag stalled the 14-play, 59-yard drive in Navy's red zone.
Navy 28, Wake Forest 27 (0:26, 4th Quarter)
Dobbs and the Midshipmen drove 64 yards in ten plays to take the lead with just under thirty seconds to play in the game. The touchdown was set up by a 34-yard pass from Dobbs to Greene down to Wake's 15-yard line, and Dobbs struck Greg Jones for his second touchdown pass of the night on a 6-yard floater.