After an incredible performance from quarterback Drake Maye, North Carolina prevailed in a 36-34 shootout at Winston-Salem. Maye rushed for over 500 yards on the ground and in the air and added four touchdowns.
Read our full game recap below.
Starting with the ball, the highlight of Wake Forest’s opening drive was a 20-yard run by Justice Ellison on the first play after scrimmage. That carry alone amounted to more than the Deacs’ total on-site net mileage against NC State. But a holding penalty and false start put Wake behind the sticks and the team had to stab.
After converting in 3rd and 4th place for the team’s first downs, quarterback Drake Maye flew in the air to get the tar heels down the field — passes from 25 and 14 yards pushed UNC into Wake Forest territory . Then a 17-yard sideline pass to a wide-open TE Bryson Nesbit and a 12-yard connection with Josh Downs put heels first on the board.
The Deacs maintained ground play on their second drive, but a controversial no-call on a face mask blocked every momentum Wake Forest had. For the second time in so many possessions, Wake poked.
After a 24-yard rush from Elijah Green, Maye uncorked a 45-yard bomb to Antoine Green to take UNC deep into Wake Forest territory. From there, the former Green finished the job with a five-yard run and went untouched into the end zone to give North Carolina an early two-touchdown lead.
On their third possession, Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense finally found their footing. On a drive that included several productive rushes from Ellison, Hartman worked the intermediate routes to his receivers — completing passes for 16, 14, 6 and 13 yards. Inside the heels’ red zone for the first time in the game, Hartman then found Taylor Morin at the apartment and he stormed in to take the score.
After starting on the 36 with a nice kick return, Maye and the Heels offense hit a 3rd-and-10 with a 12-yard finish after downs. Two more passes totaling 27 yards heeled the Deacs inside their own 10-yard line that led into the second quarter.
After being sent back 15 yards on a block below the waist, North Carolina still found a way to earn the first down on an 11-yard completion to Elijah Green and a 7-yard rush to the gut. With cover collapsing, Downs easily found the end zone on a pass from Maye for his second goal of the game.
After a 15-yard completion to Banks, Hartman again just missed Banks on a deep pass. In fourth and short place, Hartman found Ke’Shawn Williams in the slot for what initially looked like a small win for first down. But Williams escaped across the middle of the field and rumbled 40 yards to the goal line. After failing to find pay-dirt on the first three tries, Wake Forest opted to score fourth on the goal line. After a big shove in the back from Hartman, Christian Turner jumped in, bringing the Deacs back to within a touchdown.
After taking the first first down on the driveway, the Deacons’ defense buckled to stop Maye and the offense. Jasheen Davis stunned the heels with two sacks to stop North Carolina for the first time in the entire game. Then a short punt was reduced even more to a face mask, allowing Wake Forest to start at UNC 36.
Faced with a difficult decision in fourth and third, head coach Dave Clawson kept his offense on the field and was rewarded with a 22-yard completion over the middle to Morin. At the next game, Hartman patiently waited for an open teammate and found Donavon Greene alone for the score. The score was balanced for the first time since kick-off.
Aided by a aimed call to Wake Forest safety AJ Williams, North Carolina again marched down the field behind Maye. After completing 14 and 12 yards, Maye grounded the ball herself for 19 yards. Then, with the best ball of the first half, the redshirt freshman hit Downs on a deep left post for his third touchdown connection of the night.
After a quick three-and-out that ended with a 14-yard Hartman sack, the Heels started at their own 40 with a chance to get a final score before halftime, but several big stops gave the Deacs a minute Shut the ball back on the clock and a whole bunch of timeouts.
After knocking down the first third of the half, Maye did so again on the third and seventh, dodging the rush and finding JJ Jones on a 25-yard over-the-middle cent. After an unsuccessful third-down pass in Wake Forest territory, LB Ryan Smenda stopped a fourth-down attempt for a critical turnover to open the half.
Behind a balanced attack, Wake Forest marched down the field — Hartman completed passes from seven and four yards, then Ellison rushed three times in a row for a total of 21 yards. In the following game, Hartman AT Perry perfectly led into the end zone to give the Deacs their first lead of the game.
Down for the first time, Maye immediately got airborne, hitting John Copenhaver and Bryson Nesbit for a combined 46 yards. Then, on a scary third and fifth, Maye dodged the Wake Forest pass rush and ran for the score. With the extra point previously missed, North Carolina went for two, which wasn’t good on a swing run.
On the third play of the following drive, Hartman uncorked a perfect pass that put Donavon Greene squarely in front of a 60-yard touchdown and put Wake Forest ahead 34-33.
Again, Maye mixed runs and passes well to work the offense on the field. After completing a 22-yard pass, he scrambled to 15. Then, after an 11-yard connection, he rushed to another 18. The heels were then set up at the goal line and went into the fourth quarter with an important third. short.
After another goal-line stop on the run, North Carolina kept offense on the field for fourth – on a design pass to the left, DB Isaiah Wingfield tipped the ball on its way to its intended receiver, giving Wake Forest another key turnover and it to them enable to stay in the lead.
To get off the goal line, Wake Forest relied on the never-ending legs of reserve running back Quinton Cooley — Cooley gained 34 yards on four straight rushes. In third place, Hartman found Morin over center, who turned a short catch into a 46-yard gain. Then it was Ellison’s turn – he took four rushes for 17 yards to get to the UNC 9-yard line. On the fourth down, Hartman narrowly missed the scramble and returned the ball to his heels.
After allowing a first down, Wake Forest closed the door on the Tar Heels’ offense and stuffed Maye in back-to-back rushes to force a punt.
With an opportunity to run the clock, the Deacs got the first first hit off Turner’s legs. Then, on the subsequent third down, Wake Forest earned a bail out pass interference call on a pass to Greene. At his worst moment, Hartman couldn’t see a safety undercutting his receiver and threw his first stoppage of the game.
On the first pull from the scrimmage, Maye found Downs for 43 yards to get into Wake Forest’s red zone. But a critical sack and a false start pushed UNC back 11 yards. On the third down, Maye threw the ball wide and sent his kicking team wide. From 34 yards, Noah Burdette parted the posts and gave North Carolina a two-point lead.
With a holding call that put Wake Forest behind the sticks, Hartman was forced to throw a desperation ball on the fourth down. The incomplete returned North Carolina the ball back into Deacs territory with just over a minute remaining on the clock. Wake Forest had three timeouts left.
North Carolina successfully timed out, giving them a hard-fought 36-34 victory.
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