WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest hadn't beaten an ACC team other than Duke in almost two years.
A visit from N.C. State changed all that on Saturday, although only after another tenuous fourth-quarter performance. The Demon Deacons continued their recent home dominance of the Wolfpack with a 34-27 win at BB&T Field.
The Wolfpack's second-half rally fell flat in its fifth consecutive loss in Winston-Salem and seventh in eight trips. Quarterback Mike Glennon (315 yards, three touchdowns) put up big numbers, but Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien didn't mince words after the team's 14th Atlantic Division road loss in a row.
"They had more energy than we did," O'Brien said. "You can't do that, especially on the road in a conference game. We have to look for leadership. We certainly haven't gotten any out of anybody on this football team."
Wake quarterback Tanner Price carved up State's secondary for 297 yards and the Deacs built leads of 17-3 and 27-6, as they rebounded from a season-opening loss at Syracuse.
Wake led Syracuse by 15 points in the fourth quarter of the opener, then Price got hurt and the team collapsed, losing in overtime.
Wake's defense nearly saw a repeat when Glennon, who was shaky in his first college start, started to find receivers down field.
Glennon hit receiver Tobais Palmer (seven catches, 96 yards) for a 65-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the third quarter. The throw covered about 50 yards in the air and cut Wake's lead to 34-20.
A Brendan Bishop interception, on a rare Price mistake (22-35, 297 yards and a touchdown), gave Glennon another crack at Wake's defense.
On fourth-and-10 from his own 37, Glennon beat a Wake blitz and connected with T.J. Graham for a 63-yard score.
Up 34-27, Wake went three-and-out and looked like its seven-game ACC losing streak was about to get longer. The Deacs, who had lost 11 of 13 ACC games with only wins over Duke during that stretch, got one last stop.
Tight end George Bryan, who caught a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter, dropped a key third-down pass and then Glennon couldn't connect with Graham on fourth down. Wake took over and ran out the clock.
"It was a little nerve-racking out there," Price said. "We allowed them to come back and it got a little closer than I would have like but the defense stepped up."
Price, who showed no signs of the knee injury that sidelined him for most of the fourth quarter of the Syracuse loss, gave Wake the cushion to survive the rally. He completed six passes to Chris Givens (for 111 yards), five to Michael Campanaro (93 yards and a touchdown) and six to Danny Dembry (96 yards).
Campanaro, who sat out the second half with a hamstring injury, also found Dembry for a touchdown on a reverse pass in the first half.
It was one big play after another in the first half for Wake as it took a 20-6 advantage to the half. Price hit his first eight passes, including a 31-yard touchdown to Campanaro on the first drive.
Wake coach Jim Grobe dug into the playbook for a reverse pass. Campanaro pulled up off a reverse and hit a wide-open - by a good 15 yards - Dembry for a 40-yard touchdown.
"We haven't played defense like this, in God knows how long," O'Brien said. "So many big plays."
State created more of its own problems to start the second half. Its first drive was derailed by a chop block and a dropped pass. The second drive ended with an interception in Wake territory (which set up a 15-yard touchdown run Josh Harris). Then the Pack had a 100-yard kickoff return by Graham negated by a block in the back.
Glennon got the offense going but only after Dembry's second touchdown, a 10-yard reverse, put the Pack in a 34-13 hole.
"We finally got it together in the second half but it was too late," Glennon said.
Too late for State, but just in time for Wake.
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