Dortch catches 4 TDs, Wake Forest beats Louisville 42-32
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch kept zipping around, finding inventive ways to reach the end zone. For a change, the most explosive player in a Louisville game was someone other than Heisman Trophy-winner Lamar Jackson.
Dortch caught a school-record four of John Wolford’s five touchdown passes in Wake Forest’s 42-32 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday.
“The impact he’s had is, we have a big-play threat,” coach Dave Clawson said of Dortch, “and that opens up everything.”
Wolford became the first Wake Forest player in 19 years to throw for more than 400 yards, passing for 461 and completing 28 of 34 passes and adding a short scoring run for the Demon Deacons (5-3, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Matt Colburn rushed for a career-best 134 yards to help the Wake Forest offense roll up a season-best 625 total yards and snap its three-game losing streak.
“You’ve just got to find a way,” Clawson said. “Today we found a way, and probably got one of the biggest wins we’ve gotten in our four years here.”
On this day anyway, when the outcome was still in doubt, the biggest plays were made by Dortch, who finished with 10 catches for 167 yards. After scoring five touchdowns in the season’s first four games — all wins — he’d gone three straight without finding the end zone before nearly matching his season total in less than 35 minutes.
Wolford hit Dortch with a 32-yard catch-and-run touchdown and found the redshirt freshman speedster again on a 4-yard swing pass that he took into the end zone less than 5 minutes into the second quarter.
They connected for a third time on another catch-and-run score, a 25-yarder with 89 seconds before the break. Dortch broke the school’s single-game scoring record with his 52-yarder to make it 35-10 not even 5 minutes into the third.
Wolford hit Chuck Wade with a 44-yard score with 57 seconds remaining.
Jackson rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns — of 7, 4 and 55 yards — but the last two came after the Cardinals (5-4, 2-4) fell behind by 25 points in the second half. He was sacked a season-high six times, was 27 of 44 for 330 yards passing with a 20-yard score to Charles Standberry with 14 seconds left, and earlier threw an interception in the end zone for Louisville, which has lost three of four.
“We just want to finish strong and play with pride,” coach Bobby Petrino said.
Louisville: A defense that ranked in the ACC’s bottom third in most stat categories looked even more vulnerable with cornerback Jaire Alexander out. The Cardinals started freshman Rush Yeast and rotated in senior Ronald Walker, and both were repeatedly tested by Wolford, Dortch and Scotty Washington, who needed just 20 minutes to crack the 100-yard mark and finished with six catches for 133 yards.
“We went into the game thinking he wasn’t going to play, just based on, you get information here and there,” Wolford said of Alexander.
Wake Forest: The easy narrative is that maybe this is what happens when Louisville doesn’t have Wake Forest’s playbook . More important than the Wakeyleaks controversy that both coaches declared dead, the Demon Deacons found a way to put two halves together against their Atlantic Division rivals. Wake Forest had led at halftime of each of the two previous meetings but had never gone on to beat Louisville — or even score in the second half — until now.
Jackson missed one second-half series because he went to the locker room to have his right wrist checked out. He said he “put my hand down the wrong way” after his second touchdown of the game. Jawon Pass came in for a three-and-out, and Jackson was back for the next series. “It’s just sore right now,” he said.
The hard feelings between these two programs goes beyond the Wakeyleaks fiasco. Colburn was set to sign with Louisville in February 2015 before he says the Cardinals told him they wouldn’t accept his letter of intent and asked him to “grayshirt” — or, delay enrollment until the following January. “I was waiting for this for a long time — a long time coming,” Colburn said. “It’s just the cherry on top for me. This game is so personal, but I didn’t let that get in the way of anything.”
Dortch could have had a fifth touchdown, but he fumbled while lunging to cross the goal line and the ball went out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback for the Cardinals. “I don’t know how I could be mad when he scored four touchdowns,” Wolford joked. “We’re taught not to stick it out unless — you better score. We won the game, and I’m not mad at him because he makes me look good.”
Louisville: The Cardinals have next week off before playing host to Virginia on Nov. 11 in their annual cross-division matchup.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons visit No. 9 Notre Dame next Saturday, when they will be reunited with former defensive coordinator Mike Elko — who now has the same job with the Fighting Irish.
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