Wake Forest stung Sanderson with big plays in the first half that pushed the undefeated Cougars to a 30-8 Cap-8 football win.
Sanderson, meanwhile, slipped to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the league. The 14th-ranked Spartans had chances to keep up with top-ranked team in the News and Observer poll, but failed to score twice when in the redzone in the first half to trail 21-8 at halftime.
Wake (10-0, 6-0) got a 62-yard run on the first play from scrimmage by Demarcus Jones to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Marquis Dunn.
Junior John Jiles hauled in a pass from quarterback Chris James on a play that went 63 yards for the Cougars’ second score of the game and the James-to-Jiles combination hooked up again for a 41-yard gainer that set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Dunn that established the 21-8 lead.
Sanderson’s first-half points came on a safety off a blocked punt by Vince Thomas and a spectacular 63-yard punt return for a touchdown by Trent Pennix.
But it was the two lost opportunities that haunted the Spartans.
“A couple of big plays they made hurt us and offensively we didn’t finish,” Sanderson coach Ben Kolstad said. “We came away twice with nothing in the redzone.”
Wake’s defense continued to wear down the Spartans in the second half and added points on Chris Vidal’s 36-yard field goal and Dunn’s third touchdown on the game, a 1-yard run.
THREE TO KNOW
Trent Pennix, Sanderson: The junior receiver-turned-running back gained 122 yards on 25 punishing carries against the physical Cougars defense.
John Jiles, Wake Forest: Offense, defense, special teams, Jiles did it all with a blocked kick, an interception and two catches for 102 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown pass. “John stepped up on both sides of the ball, and on special teams,” Wake coach Reggie Lucas said.
Darius Hodge, Wake Forest: The linebacker was among the team leaders in tackles and blocked a Sanderson field goal attempt in the first quarter.
THEY SAID IT
“Offensively, we just have to keep grinding,” Lucas said. “They stuffed us on the belly sweep, a staple of our offense, but we have to get it going, because our backs can break it on any play.”
BY THE NUMBERS
10: Tackles by Sanderson linebacker Alim McNeill.
165: Rushing yards by Wake Forest’s Demarcus Jones.