Winston-Salem, NC - It was not a Thanksgiving holiday-hangover that kept Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5 ACC) from giving any semblance of a competitive effort in its 55-21 loss to Vanderbilt (8-4, 5-3 SEC) in the regular season finale, but the Demon Deacons appeared to expire following its win over Boston College Saturday, Nov. 3 as injuries piled up and quality depth disappeared on the offensive and defensive lines.
"We've had four losing seasons," Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro said. "That's tough. We just got to get back on track. I think players and coaches have to change things up just how we're doing things. We got to get things back into the winning attitude here at Wake Forest, but we got a great team coming back to do that."
"I was looking around tonight the game's on one end and I see a bunch of guys huddled up around the heater on the other end. That's just [a] losing attitude. It wasn't a pretty sight to see. The game was still in reach. We were down by a few scores."
The Commodores expanded a 14-7 lead to a 28-7 advantage in about a six-minute span in the second quarter, beginning with a 64-yard scoring strike from Jordan Rodgers to Jordan Matthews and ending with a four-yard touchdown run by Zac Stacy after Sherman Ragland gave Vandy the short field when he fumbled at the Wake 37.
"The long pass was a little bit ridiculous, and we looked like Keystone Cops back there stumbling around like we've never been back there before," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. "It was really a ball that I thought we should have made a play on."
"He's a really good receiver. They've got some talented kids, but that was one of those situations where it was just disappointing the way we played it. It looked like we were a little bit lost back there."
Wake's secondary could not be found for nearly the entire game, as it yielded 10 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown to Matthews.
The Demon Deacons were just as abysmal if not worse defending the run, as Stacy carried 21 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
"The fact that we're able to score 55 points against a team and a coach that I have tremendous respect for is great," Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin said.
"Zac Stacy reached 1,000 yards for the season and built on his fantastic career rushing accomplishments. I think Jordan Matthews also broke the single-season receiving record, which is very impressive. Overall, I thought we did some really good things."
Any hopes of a Demon Deacon comeback or an interesting second half were decimated when Andrew Williamson blocked Alexander Kinal's punt and Casey Hughes recovered the ball in the end-zone for the touchdown to give Vandy a 35-7 lead at the 14:08 mark in the third quarter.
However, Wake Forest did show fight on the ensuing possession, driving 75 yards in 11 plays for a one-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Martin and again when Chibuikem Okoro made a four-yard scoop and score after Tylor Harris forced Brian Kimbrow to fumble with 6:28 left in regulation.
On the other hand the Deacs allowed the Commodores to score on an 83-yard punt return by Jonathan Krause and a 90-yard scamper by Stacy.
"Some of the things I'm okay with, we've got some injuries, we've got some of those issues," Grobe said. "Our punt team was not very good tonight. I'm not sure we were good enough tonight to beat Vanderbilt if we did some better things, if we didn't have a punt blocked, if we didn't have a punt returned against us, but we certainly could have played better and that's what I told our team tonight."
"I'm disappointed we didn't play better. I'm not taking anything away from what I think is a veteran well-coached, good Vanderbilt team, but I'm disappointed that we didn't compete better than we did tonight. I'm very disappointed."