Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford's final in high school game was a 10-touchdown performance, but ultimately a heartbreaking 74-73 loss. Wolford, a senior, has been under center for the Demon Deacons since he arrived in Winston-Salem from Jacksonville, Florida, and he got some personal retribution in an MVP performance during his final college game -- a 55-52 win against Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl.
Wolford completed 32-of-49 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, fighting off an ankle injury to lead the final scoring drive of the game in a back-and-forth shootout that set numerous Belk Bowl records.
- Wake Forest and Texas A&M combined for 1,270 yards of offense (646 for Wake Forest, 614 for Texas A&M)
- Both teams finished with more than 400 passing yards (Texas A&M quarterback Nick Starkel completed 42-of-63 passes for 499 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception)
- Both teams combined to run 191 plays, each averaging more than six yards per play, in a game that lasted more than four hours in real time
"It took the last play of the game. Credit to Texas A&M, under the circumstances of the interim coach, they played their tales off, and we were just the ones to make the last play," Dave Clawson told ESPN after the game. "[Wake Forest's seniors] worked through 3-9, 3-9, and now eight wins and two consecutive bowl wins, those guys are winners and I'm proud of them."
Things didn't start great for Wake Forest. The offense couldn't get a first down early in the game -- a big problem for an up-tempo offense -- and Texas A&M blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the first three minutes of the game. The locally-leaning fans who made the drive to Charlotte had barely finished their Bojangles lunch by the time the Aggies were holding a 14-0 lead.
But Wake Forest responded well with scores on its next five offensive possessions to take a 31-14 lead early in the second quarter. Nick Starkel then answered with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk, then there was a 37-yard pass from Wolford to star tight end Cam Serigne, and before halftime hit, the game was already at the over-under total set by Las Vegas oddsmakers.
Wake Forest got a big-time performance from wide receiver Scotty Washington in the win. The redshirt sophomore from Washington, D.C. pulled in nine highlight-worthy grabs on 11 targets for a team-high 138 yards with a touchdown.
Cam Serigne added 112 receiving yards and a touchdown on nine receptions, moving into first place all-time on the ACC's list of receiving touchdowns by a tight end.
As Clawson mentioned after the game, this win is another huge step forward for a program that won just six games in his first two years as coach. It's an even bigger step forward for an offense that ranked near the bottom of the FBS in passing efficiency and now has finished the year as one of the top offensive units in Wake Forest history.
For Texas A&M, the performance showed that this team did not quit despite losing Kevin Sumlin after the regular season finale. Jimbo Fisher was in Charlotte for the game and even joined the ESPN broadcast to comment on the current roster, and he'll likely have plenty of encouraging words for a team that battled until the final play of a physically and emotionally draining game.