Written by Garin Turner
The 2017 Belk Bowl is in the books. After a rough start, Wake Forest (8-5) prevailed 55-52 against Texas A&M (7-6) in a wild game.
The Demon Deacon’s fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter after back to back blocked punts. The first punt was recovered in the end zone for the first score. Aggie RB Trayveon Williams scored on a 2-yard run to bring the score to 14-0.
Wake Forest then responded by scoring 31 unanswered points. QB John Wolford connected on a 50-yard score to WR Scotty Washington to get things going for the Demon Deacons. With 5:47 left in the first quarter, Tabari Hines hauled in a diving catch for a seven-yard score to tie the game up at 14.
Hines would score again on another seven-yard touchdown grab to bring the score to 24-14. After a three and out, Jessie Bates III returned a punt 59-yards for the score.
Not to be outdone, Texas A&M finally answered with a 52-yard strike from QB Nick Starkel to Christian Kirk. The Aggies wouldn't retake the lead again until 1:59 left in the third quarter when Keith Ford punched it in from a yard out to make it 42-41.
The fourth quarter played out like a heavyweight boxing match with each team trading blows. There were three lead changes in the 4th. Cade Carney scored on a 1-yard run to give Wake Forest the lead 48-45.
WR Jhamon Ausbon capped off a 10 play, 72-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown reception to give the lead back to the Aggies 52-48 with 5:52 left in the game.
Wake Forest marched down the field on 13 plays and 69 yards. The most important yard was the last yard when Matt Colburn scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:18 remaining in the game. "When these games are over I'm emotionally spent. When it goes your way you're thankful and when it doesn't you're depressed," Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said.
Wolford was the Belk Bowl player of the game as he threw for 400 yards on 32/49 attempts and four touchdowns. "It's been a heck of a ride," Wolford said.
Colburn finished the day with 21 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown. Wake Forest receivers had a big day lead by Washington who had nine receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Cam Serigne also had nine receptions. He added 112 yards and a touchdown. Hines had the two touchdowns on eight receptions for 58 yards.
The Aggies blocked three kicks in the game as special teams played a huge part in the game. Starkel was 42/63 for 499 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. Kirk had a career day in what may have been his final colligate game finishing with 13 receptions for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow wide out Ausbon had 12 receptions for 112 yards and a score.
Between the two teams, 195 plays were ran. Wake Forest outgained the Aggies 646-614.
Wake Forest begins 2018 on the road against Tulane.
Texas A&M will face Northwestern State at home in the 2018 opener.
Written By: Garin Turner
The Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina will be host the Belk Bowl as Wake Forest (7-5) squares off against Texas A&M (7-5) in an ACC vs. SEC Matchup Friday, December 29th at noon CST on ESPN.
Both teams come into the game after losing their last games of the regular season. Wake Forest lost at home against Duke 31-23 while Texas A&M fell to LSU 45-21. The Aggies fired Kevin Sumlin on November 26 after six seasons despite having a 51-26 record. His replacement is Jimbo Fisher formerly the head coach at Florida State. The Aggies have to focus on the field if they want to come away with the win.
Quarterback Nick Starkel will get the start in the bowl game. Starkel has 10 touchdowns and five interceptions on the season on 81 of 142 passing for 1,294 yards.
The Aggies have a decent rushing attack. No running back rushed for over 1,000 yards, but they had solid play by Trayveon Williams (166 carries for 733 yards and seven touchdowns) and Keith Ford (122 carries for 493 yards and 11 touchdowns).
A big concern for the Aggies is if their wideout Christian Kirk would play in the game. It looks as the concern is over as Kirk plans to play citing the motivation of never winning a bowl game to play. Kirk has 58 receptions for 730 yards and seven touchdowns despite having two different quarterbacks during the season.
Wake Forest doesn't boast any 1,000-yard rushers either, but they do have dual-threat QB John Wolford. On the ground. Wolford has carried the ball 125 times for 615 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns. Matt Colburn has 145 carries for 754 yards and six touchdowns.
Wolford might be more dangerous with his arm than his legs. Coming into Friday's game, he has 2,792 yards passing with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He has a trio of wide receivers who have at least 500 plus yards. Greg Dortch (53 rec, 722 yards, nine touchdowns), Tabari Hines (45 rec, 625 yards, and five touchdowns), and Scotty Washington (36 rec, 573 yards, and two touchdowns) give Wolford a lot of options. Add Cam Serigne to the mix as he's second on the team in receiving touchdowns with eight.
Both teams are averaging over 30 points a game. but both teams are allowing over 25 points a game. This game will likely be decided by which defense can make the most plays and can control the line of scrimmage.
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