Wake Forest rolled through opponents in recent weeks, scoring 60 or more points in each of its past two games, but coach Reggie Lucas knew the Cougars’ conference matchup at Millbrook would be a test.
But Wake Forest (6-0, 2-0 Cap Eight), ranked No. 2 in The News & Observer rankings of area teams, showed no signs of slowing Friday, topping No. 9 Millbrook, 35-10.
“It was one of those games where I didn’t sleep last night because I was worried about all of the threats that they have on offense,” Lucas said. “Our defense has played well, but we have been vulnerable at times in the previous games, so after playing the game, I’m extremely pleased with the way our kids handled themselves against a very good football team.”
The Cougars scored on their first three possessions and limited Millbrook’s ground game as the Cougars remained undefeated midway through the regular season.
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Wake Forest made it to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA title game last season after entering the playoffs as the Cap Eight’s fifth-place team. For the Cougars, returning to the big stage starts with a tough conference schedule against teams like Millbrook.
“We’ve been working really hard trying to get back to where we were last year, trying to get to the ultimate goal of a state championship as well as a conference championship,” senior standout running back Bryce Love said. “It was a big game against a really, really good team. They have a lot of talent over there, so it was definitely a good gauge to see where we are so far in the season.”
Love (14 carries for 125 yards) got things started quickly, going 67 yards for his first of two touchdowns on the second play. On the Cougars’ next possession, Mack Moore capped a 68-yard drive with a 3-yard keeper after putting Wake Forest in scoring position with a 39-yard pass to Brooks Cunningham. The Cougars tacked on another score when Moore found Christian Bass on an 18-yard pass in the second quarter.
With things quickly getting out of hand, Millbrook’s defense and special teams came up with a stop nearing the end of the first half. A punt by Reid Herring, the Wildcats’ quarterback and punter, pinned the Cougars at their own 19 before Millbrook pushed Wake Forest back further with a loss of 10 yards on a rushing attempt followed by a sack for a loss of 8 more yards.
Kengera Daniel got a hand on the ensuing punt, giving the Wildcats possession at the Cougars 16, but Millbrook ended up settling for a 37-yard field goal after a 15-yard chop block penalty took the Wildcats out of a 4th-and-1 situation at the 6. The score put host Millbrook on the board, but the Wildcats trailed 21-3 at the half.
Wake Forest didn’t let up, scoring on an 8-yard run by Devon Lawrence (11 carries for 69 yards) in its first possession after the break. Love capped the scoring in the fourth with a 4-yard run.
Dajuan Green added 112 yards on 13 carries for the Cougars.
Millbrook’s offense hadn’t been stymied much since the Wildcats’ 7-6 loss to East Wake in Week 3. Millbrook (4-2, 1-1) entered the game averaging 41 points the past two weeks, but the Cougars defense swarmed on Millbrook standout Marcus Marshall early, limiting the Wildcats’ ground game.
“Our goal was to focus on trying to control the running attack that they have,” Lucas said. “Obviously we know the quarterback can throw, so we wanted to make them one dimensional and I think we did that tonight.”
Herring completed 21 of 31 passes for 155 yards, including the Wildcats’ lone touchdown, a 10-yard connection with Jonte Leaston (7 catches for 51 yards).
“Now the kids have confidence against anybody they’re playing especially on the offensive side where I think we’re still a work in progress,” Lucas said. “Our line is still getting better every week, so just putting up the numbers they did tonight against Millbrook I thought was a solid effort. ... I don’t have anything to complain about although there are some things we need to work on.”
Next week, Wake Forest hosts Wakefield and Millbrook hosts Broughton.