Wake Forest makes it 3 straight against FSU
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)—For Wake Forest, beating Florida State used to big news.
Now it’s almost routine.
Sam Swank kicked four field goals and No. 18 Wake Forest forced seven Florida State turnovers in running its winning streak over the 24th-ranked Seminoles to three games with a 12-3 victory Saturday night.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever played a better defensive game as far as forcing turnovers, making things happen,” said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. “Sam hit a lot of good balls out there today, we missed a couple of them but that’s going to happen from time to time.”
Before winning in Tallahassee in 2006, Wake had lost 14 straight to Florida State and hadn’t beaten the Seminoles here since 1959. But if there were any doubts the Demon Deacons (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) had passed Florida State (2-1, 0-1) in the ACC pecking, they erased them Saturday night.
And in the process, they dropped Florida State coach Bobby Bowden one game behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno for the most career wins in major college football. Paterno won his 376th Saturday as the Nittany Lions defeated Temple 45-3.
“We’re not where I hoped we were,” Bowden said. “Now (our) defense played about as good as theirs. … If our defense hadn’t been playing good tonight that score would have been awful.”
Swank made field goals from 48, 29, 49 and 31 yards to increase his career total to 69 and pass Florida State’s Xavier Beitia for third place in the ACC record book. Swank also missed three field goals.
“I have some things to go back and work on,” Swank said. “Me messing up. That’s about it. None of the other people had anything to do with it.”
“But,” Swank added, “It’s a ‘W’ to put in our pocket.”
The Demon Deacons squandered repeated scoring opportunities but the Seminoles (2-1, 0-1) sputtered on offense all night, losing two fumbles and throwing five interceptions.
Florida State’s only points also came on a 37 yard field goal by Graham Gano. It was his first game since undergoing knee surgery on his right—kicking — leg Aug. 22.
Wake Forest’s Riley Skinner completed 17 of 28 passes for 217 yards, but he committed a costly fumble at the Florida State 2 near the end of the first half that quashed a potential score.
“That was by far the toughest defense we’ve played so far,” Skinner said. “They were coming out firing on all cylinders.”
Christian Ponder played most of the first half at quarterback for Florida State while D’Vontrey Richardson took over for most of the second half, but neither was effective. Ponder was intercepted three times and Richardson twice.
“The offense could never get together and never really get a rhythm,” Ponder said. “It’s tough. It’s really frustrating.”
Alphonso Smith picked off Ponder’s pass on Florida State’s first offensive play of the game to set up Swank’s 48-yard field goal. It was the only score of the first half.
Wake Forest got the ball back just minutes later when Brandon Ghee forced a fumble by Anton Smith that was recovered by Aaron Curry at Florida State’s 27 yard line. An apparent Wake Forest touchdown pass was nullified by a holding penalty and then Swank missed for 27 yards wide right.
It was Swank’s first missed field goal of the season and broke a string of nine straight including his first three this year.
Wake Forest drove to the Florida State 10 late in the second quarter. Swank trotted onto the field for another 27-yard attempt on fourth-and-one, but Grobe changed his mind and called his star kicker back to the sideline.
Kenny Ingram knocked Skinner’s pass down in the backfield and Florida State took over. Wake Forest soon got the ball back deep in Seminole territory when Ponder was intercepted by Kevin Patterson. He returned the ball 32 yards to Florida State’s 17. Two plays later, though, Skinner ran the ball 11 yards to the Florida State 2 where he fumbled with 29 seconds left in the half.