WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest started this season by doing so many of the things the Demon Deacons simply couldn’t do last year.
They broke long runs. They racked up huge yards. They kept finding the end zone.
And in quarterback John Wolford’s case, all on one busted play.
Wolford passed for three touchdowns and ran 70 yards for another score, and Wake Forest routed FCS member Elon 41-3 on Thursday night.
[callout2]”I know we’re better,” second-year coach Dave Clawson said. “I know we have more skill. I know our line’s improved. How much better? I don’t know if one game answers that, but there’s no way we could have done this a year ago.”[/callout2]
Wolford was 20 of 27 for a career-high 323 yards. After ending his freshman season against Duke with his first three-touchdown game, he picked up right where he left off.
Wolford threw touchdowns covering 10 yards to Cam Serigne, 30 yards to Cortez Lewis and 27 yards to Chuck Wade before exiting in the third quarter.
The Demon Deacons are above .500 for the first time in Clawson’s tenure and set highs for points, total yards (591) and yards rushing (203) under him.
“It was a really positive start,” Clawson said, “and I think when you’re a young team it’s good to get a game like this where guys get some confidence and they see on film that if they execute, if they do what they should, this is how it works. Now we’re going to have to do that against good competition in the ACC.”
Freshman Matt Colburn had a 2-yard rushing touchdown and Mike Weaverkicked field goals of 28 and 32 yards.
John Gallagher kicked a 45-yard field goal for the Phoenix, who had just 151 total yards. Picked last in the CAA, they were down by 24 points before they crossed midfield for the first time.
“I do not think that they were that much of a better team than the score showed,” said Elon freshman quarterback Daniel Thompson, announced as the starter moments before kickoff.
“We knew everything they were going to do defensively, from an offensive standpoint,” he added. “We just didn’t execute well at all.”
For Wake Forest, it was an encouraging start to Year 2 for Clawson. The Demon Deacons finished last season 3-9 with an offense that was the nation’s worst, averaging just 216 total yards.
Even with a roster full of freshmen, things certainly clicked against an FCS opponent coming off a 1-11 finish.
This was the Demon Deacons’ highest-scoring game since they hung 49 on Army in 2012. They rushed for 134 yards in the first half — more than they had in any full game last season.
They took command with three straight touchdown drives in the second quarter.
And the last score — Wolford’s run, the longest by a Wake Forest player in a decade — was the one that had BB&T Field buzzing.
Wolford didn’t have a rushing TD in 2014, but when Elon’s defense thwarted a screen play, he started left in an effort to avoid an interception, then cut back across the field and darted down the right side to make it 24-0.
When asked what was going through his mind in the end zone, Wolford replied that “I was just tired.”
That had Wake Forest well on its way to moving over .500 for the first time since a win over Maryland on Oct. 19, 2013, made them 4-3.
Freshman Tyler Bell’s 21-yard run set up Wolford’s scoring pass to Serigne that made it 10-0 with 11:19 left until halftime. Colburn’s touchdown run capped the 90-yard drive that preceded Wolford’s big run.