Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. has not been kind to Wake Forest (3-1, 2-0 ACC) in the past, but the Demon Deacons wrecked the Eagles nest Saturday, stealing a 27-19 road victory at Boston College (1-4, 0-2 ACC).
If someone was to tell Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe that Boston College was going to have a 32:10 to 27:50 edge in time of possession he would have probably said that is 4:20 longer than he wants his defense on the field.
For the first time this season Wake's defense put four good quarters together, forcing two turnovers, sacking BC quarterback Chase Rettig twice and often flushed him out of the pocket.
"We had terrible field position for the longest time," Grobe said. "Our offense seemed to be always starting inside the 20. Defensively, we were always defending a short field. It was a real gut check out their today."
The Deacs average starting field position was at their own 22 yard line, while BC's was its own 39.
What was arguably most of impressive about Wake Forest's defensive effort was its pass coverage. Rettig only connected on 23-47 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, and had an astonishing average of just four yards per completion.
Wake's success in this area was largely due to the front seven often bringing pressure, forcing Rettig to throw it away or settle for short passes, but the secondary deserves the lion's share of the credit.
Strong safety Cyhl Quarles led the way with seven tackles, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Free safety Josh Bush added an interception and cornerback Merrill Noel defended his island well. Noel is listed at 5-foot-10, which is very generous. He battled the much taller BC receivers, breaking up two passes, including one in the endzone.
Offensively Chris Givens was again Tanner Price's top target. The junior receiver reeled in seven balls for 132 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown on a screen pass.
With a weak rushing attack (only 104 yards on 33 touches) Price carried the offense with his fourth game of the season with 200 or more yards passing, completing 19-29 throws for 252 yards, a touchdown, turning it over once on an interception in the third quarter.
The Demon Deacons overcame Price's interception, and a furious rally by the Eagles, tackling Rettig two yards short of the first down with 1:43 left in the game.
"It definitely was getting hairy," Wake Forest wide receiver Terence Davis said. "We weren't having too much progress, but the defense definitely stepped up and kept us in the game."
This victory and the win over N.C. State mark the second time since its season-opening heartbreaking loss to Syracuse Wake Forest has been able to withstand a furious second half comeback. The Demon Deacons appear to be adopting a bend, but don't break team persona. That cannot be good for Grobe's heart-rate, but one can be sure he will take any kind of win.
Wake proved to be more disciplined than BC, as the Deacs committed two penalties for 10 yards to the Eagles seven penalties for 56 yards.
"The margin of error for us, where we are at, is miniscule," Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani said. "It's unconscionable, really, for us to have two 15-yard penalties in the first half and three offsides, two of them by veteran players."
Wake Forest's players now know they can win on the road, and is able to fight through adversity in a hostile environment. The Deacs are going to need every bit of that confidence and discipline as they enter murderer's row the next two weeks with visits from Florida State (Oct. 8) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 15).
*All postgame quotes courtesy of the Boston College Athletic Communications Office.