No. 11 Virginia 35, Wake Forest 17
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Except for a short stretch midway through second half Saturday, 11th-ranked Virginia’s game with Wake Forest followed a familiar script. The outcome was just as predictable.
With a 35-17 victory, the Cavaliers beat the Demon Deacons for the 12th straight time.
During its streak, currently the longest by one ACC team against another, Virginia (5-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has beaten Wake Forest (1-4, 0-2) by an average of 19 points.
The Deacons seemed on the verge on changing recent history when they got within a touchdown of Virginia early in the fourth quarter. But the Cavaliers scored two quick touchdowns to improve their series edge to 26-11.
``In the second half we came out dead at first,″ wide receiver Germane Crowell said. ``Then we saw we had to come on and blow them on out.″
Mike Groh, Virginia’s career passing efficiency leader, threw for two touchdowns and completed 21 of 34 passes for 335 yards, including five for 120 yards to Derick Byrd.
Groh nearly topped the school record for passing yardage, 344 yards, by Shawn Moore against Georgia Tech in 1990.
In its first 12 plays, Virginia took a 14-0 lead without breaking a sweat. Groh threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Byrd, who pulled down a high pass over the middle and trotted into the end zone. On the next possession, Groh found Crowell two steps ahead of his defender and completed an 18-yard TD pass.
Byrd set up the next score with a 28-yard reception, juggling a pass on his fingertips and then carrying two defenders to the 1. Kevin Brooks ran it in two plays later to put the Cavaliers ahead 21-0.
The Deamon Deacons would have been down by four touchdowns had not Brent Morehead stolen the ball from Tiki Barber just outside the end zone after he caught a 47-yard pass.
``That was a great play,″ Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell said. ``If he doesn’t make that play they go in for a score. We were able to go into the locker room and regroup. It gave us a shot.″
Wake Forest came back to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter after John Lewis caught a 15-yard scoring pass on a screen play and then had a 4-yard touchdown run with 13:34 to play. The second score was a gimme that came after the Deacons got the ball on their 9 after an errant punt snap.
``We had Virginia doing what they aren’t used to doing for a stretch,″ Caldwell said.
Virginia coach George Welsh said he was concerned all week that his players would lack enthusiasm against the Deacons.
``I don’t know if they took them lightly or not; it didn’t seem to be in the beginning,″ he said. ``Obviously we’re still having problems in the second half.″
The Cavaliers, however, scored two touchdowns in less than a minute to preserve their victory.
With a line of blockers sealing off his path to the end zone, wide receiver Demetrius Allen took the handoff on a reverse at midfield and put Virginia back up by two touchdowns.
``When I came around the corner, it was open all the way,″ Allen said.
Barber scored on a 5-yard run with 11:28 remaining after Virginia recovered a fumbled option at the Wake 24, putting the Cavaliers up 35-14.
Wake Forest was able to move the ball effectively with short passes. Rusty LaRue had the most productive game of his career, completing 28 of 44 throws for 277 yards, and Marlon Estes had a career-high 10 catches. The Deamon Deacons also matched Virginia’s 21 first downs.
But the Cavaliers crushed their running game, allowing only 59 yards on the ground with 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and had five sacks.
This is the first time Virginia has won five games in a month since going 5-0 in September 1990 and rising to No. 1 in the rankings.