Wake Forest did similar things Saturday against Louisville that it had done to build initial leads against Florida State and Georgia Tech in the past month.
And then came the Deacons’ chance to reverse course, to put forth a 60-minute effort and keep a lead against an elite Atlantic Coast Conference team.
They didn’t miss it.
Wake Forest (5-3, 2-3 ACC) stayed ahead of Louisville (5-4, 2-4) for a 42-32 victory in the Deacons’ first game at BB&T Field in nearly a month, breaking a three-game losing skid and taking out whatever frustrations — if any — remain from the Wakeyleaks scandal.
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Greg Dortch caught four touchdown passes, the first Wake Forest player to ever have four in one game. They all came from senior quarterback John Wolford, who threw for more than 400 yards for the first time in his career.
Wake Forest’s lead was 35-10 after Dortch’s fourth one, his longest of the day going for 52 yards on a middle screen. Dortch wound up with 167 yards on 10 catches. Wolford was 28-for-34 for 461 yards, adding a 1-yard touchdown run.
Lamar Jackson scored on a touchdown run with 5:53 left in the third quarter to make it a 35-17 game. The Deacons put the game on ice with a 10-play drive — every single play a run by Matt Colburn II — that gobbled up 7:15 in the fourth quarter. To tack on another score, Wolford threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Chuck Wade with one minute left.
The first half was the closest representation of the first three games and the first half of last week’s game at Georgia Tech as it could have been. In five full possessions, Wake Forest’s offense scored four touchdowns and was only stopped the other time because of a missed fourth-and-5 from Louisville’s 30-yard line.
Wolford ran in a 1-yard touchdown for the Deacons’ first points. The next four were Dortch touchdowns — his first scores since the Appalachian State game. The redshirt freshman went 32 yards on a bubble screen, 4 yards on a swing pass and then 25 yards on a slant with 1½ minutes left in the first half.
The third might have been the most important for the Deacons, from the standpoint that coach Dave Clawson made a point during the week that his team would have to become better at playing from ahead and responding to opponents’ scores while leading. Dortch’s third score came less than two minutes after Lamar Jackson scored on a 7-yard touchdown scamper to make it 21-10.
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Wake Forest coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/wfu/