Freshman receiver Emeka Emezie tried to reach out at the goal line and give N.C. State a late comeback win at Wake Forest.
Demetrius Kemp wouldn’t let it happen.
Kemp forced a fumble right before Emezie scored the potential game-winning touchdown to secure a 30-24 win for Wake Forest over the 19th-ranked Wolfpack.
Wake Forest (7-4, 4-3 ACC) ended a three-game losing streak to the Wolfpack with three touchdown passes by quarterback John Wolford (247 passing yards) to receiver Tabari Hines (eight catches for 139 yards).
Emezie, who had scored his first career touchdown in the third quarter, thought he had another. He caught the ball at the 8 and outmaneuvered two Wake defenders to nearly get into the end zone, but as he stretched the ball out near the goal line, Kemp knocked it loose and then recovered it in the end zone with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.
N.C. State (7-4, 5-2), which has lost seven of its past eight trips to Winston-Salem, had its last-ditch effort end with an interception in the end zone by Essang Bassey.
Hines’ 18-yard touchdown catch at 8:03 in the fourth quarter, his third of the game, broke a 24-24 tie. Defensive tackle B.J. Hill blocked the extra point to keep it at 30-24.
Wake Forest had lost the previous three games to N.C. State and had not scored a touchdown in the first quarter since a 28-13 win in Winston-Salem in 2013. Matt Colburn changed that on the opening drive for the Deacs with an 11-yard touchdown run.
N.C. State tied the score at 7 with an 11-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Samuels, but then Hines notched the first of his two touchdowns on a 21-yard catch at 2:35 in the first quarter.
The Wolfpack got a 1-yard touchdown run by Reggie Gallaspy to even the score at 14, and the Deacs took a 21-14 lead into the half after a 7-yard touchdown catch by Hines.
With junior receiver Stephen Louis sidelined with an ankle injury, Emezie stepped in and helped Finley with a 20-yard touchdown catch at 10:32 in the third quarter to tie it at 21.
Emezie jumped and reached up for the ball over the Wake corner at the 1-yard line and then was able to get one foot into the end zone.
The teams traded short field goals to set up the late drama.