WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Wake Forest has scored a few touchdowns and beaten a couple of Atlantic Coast Conference teams under coach Dave Clawson.
Just never in the same game.
In Clawson’s two years, the Demon Deacons have two league wins with one thing in common: Neither team crossed the goal line in the games.
That probably won’t happen this week, because it’s going to be difficult to keep North Carolina’s best-in-the-ACC offense out of the end zone.
Reflecting Tuesday on last week’s 3-0 win over Boston College, Clawson said that “offensively, it was not pretty” but “we make no apologies for how we won.”
So after finding a way to beat the conference’s best defense last week, now Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2) is preparing for the Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0) and the league’s best offense.
“The whole defense was mad at me the whole week because I kept saying (BC has) the No. 1 defense in the country,” Clawson said. “Now the offensive guys will be ticked at me. … We’ve got to go play for play, point for point. Now the challenge is on us to do that.”
That’s going to be tough for a Wake Forest program that for the second straight year is riding its defense while the offense matures.
The Demon Deacons have perhaps the youngest team in the country, with only five players in their fifth season in the program.
The offense has five freshmen or redshirt freshmen listed as starters - and that’s not counting the uncertain situation at quarterback, where sophomore John Wolford and freshman Kendall Hinton remain listed as co-starters and are fighting various injuries.
Conversely, the defense starts one true sophomore and four seniors or graduate students.
So while the offense continues to try to find its legs, a defense ranked 15th in the nation, allowing 296 total yards per game, is once again carrying the load.
And that sometimes makes for ugly wins.
In a bizarre stat, Clawson is 2-1 in ACC games in which the Demon Deacons fail to score a touchdown.
They beat Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime last year for Clawson’s first ACC victory, a game that was scoreless at the end of regulation.
Then something similar happened last week in Boston during what safety Ryan Janvion called “the craziest ending I’ve ever been a part of in my Little League, high school, college career.”
Boston College came up empty on two possessions inside the Wake Forest 10-yard line in the final 2 minutes, fumbling the first with 1:09 to play.
The Demon Deacons’ Matt Colburn coughed the ball up three plays later with 56 seconds remaining. The Eagles had first-and-goal at the 1 with 29 seconds left, but ran a play for no gain and time expired before Jeff Smith could spike the ball.
“People call it an ugly game,” punter Alex Kinal said. “I don’t know, if you know football I guess it wasn’t so ugly, if you watched the defense.”
There’s a pretty good chance the Tar Heels will find the end zone: North Carolina averages 38.6 points and 471 total yards, both ACC bests. Since that befuddling 17-13 loss to South Carolina in the opener in Charlotte, the Tar Heels haven’t been held to fewer than 38 points.
Clawson wants the Demon Deacons to find a way to get another victory.
“This is a year that you’ve got to fight, compete, scrap and find ways to get wins and, at times, steal wins,” he said.
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