Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes, shaking off a trio of interceptions, as No. 12 Wake Forest edged No. 16 North Carolina State 45-42 in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Running back Justice Ellison scored Wake Forest’s final two touchdowns as the Demon Deacons never trailed for the last 26 minutes. Hartman completed 20 of 47 passes for 290 yards.
Wake Forest (9-1, 6-0 ACC) took control of the Atlantic Division, needing to win at Clemson next week or at Boston College in the regular-season finale to advance to the league championship game for the second time. Wake Forest’s lone divisional title since the league broke into divisions came in 2006.
NC State quarterback Devin Leary threw for 408 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, while running back Zonovan Knight had a big impact on kickoff returns.
Wake Forest went ahead in the third quarter on Hartman’s 5-yard pass to Brandon Chapman. It marked the first career touchdown for Chapman, a fifth-year senior tight end.
Hartman connected with Ellison for a 4-yard touchdown with 10:05 to play, putting the score at 38-27.
NC State (7-3, 4-2) responded less than two minutes later on Leary’s second touchdown throw to Emeka Emezie. The same duo combined for the two-point conversion. Emezie finished with 133 receiving yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns.
But Wake Forest controlled the ball for more than six minutes, scoring a touchdown on Ellison’s 4-yard run with 1:47 remaining. Leary threw 8 yards to Devin Carter (7 catches, 132 yards, 2 TDs) at the 45-second mark.
Yet it was a relatively calm second half compared with the second quarter.
Knight returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown after the teams combined for 24 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half.
NC State struck first on Christopher Dunn’s 28-yard field goal to cap its first possession.
Wake Forest notched the first touchdown on Hartman’s 24-yard pass to A.T. Perry later in the first quarter.
Leading 14-6, the Demon Deacons nearly expanded the edge, but Nick Sciba’s attempt on a 53-yard field goal hit the crossbar.
But a fumble by NC State’s Carter was costly, with Hartman running 5 yards for a touchdown on the next snap.
The momentum turned again quickly, with Knight’s 72-yard kickoff return setting up Leary’s 28-yard scoring pass to Emezie. The Wolfpack got the ball back and Leary hooked up with Carter for a 21-yard touchdown play.
Wake Forest wasn’t done, stretching its lead to 24-20 on Sciba’s 45-yarder on the last play of the half.
–Field Level Media