WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP)—Riley Skinner wasn’t good enough to play for the Florida State Seminoles. Once again, he proved talented enough to help Wake Forest beat them.
Skinner’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Moore in the fourth quarter led the Demon Deacons past No. 21 Florida State 24-21 on Thursday night and helped the sophomore quarterback improve to 2-0 against his homestate school that didn’t recruit him.
“We needed that for Wake Forest this year (because) a lot of people doubted us, we hadn’t really won real pretty,” Skinner said. “We needed that for our confidence and to show we’re for real.”
Skinner completed 19 of 27 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns for the Demon Deacons (4-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The defending league champs rallied in the second half to follow up last year’s stunning 30-0 rout in Tallahassee by claiming the first consecutive wins over the Seminoles (4-2, 1-2) in school history.
“They didn’t want to be a one-hit wonder and just have a good season last year,” coach Jim Grobe said. “There’s been a lot of pressure on this football team.”
Skinner led the Demon Deacons 82 yards in nine plays, converting three third downs during their game-winning drive. The biggest came when Skinner sidestepped a pass rush, stepped forward in the pocket and found Moore, who had a step on cornerback Jamie Robinson at the goal line, for the easy score that put Wake Forest up 21-14 with 6:41 remaining.
“It got into a battle of quarterbacks, and their quarterback made the play down there that won the game,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.
Florida State gave the ball right back to Wake Forest on the first play of its ensuing drive, when Chip Vaughn intercepted Xavier Lee’s deep pass at the 26. The Demon Deacons milked the clock and set up Sam Swank’s 48-yard field goal with 1:40 to play that made it a 10-point game.
Lee scored on a 17-yard run with 17 seconds left to draw the Seminoles within three, but Wake Forest recovered an onside kick to seal it.
“For the most part, I still think we had opportunities to put the game out of hand, but we didn’t capitalize on the chances we had,” Lee said.
Josh Adams rushed 18 times for 140 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run, and caught a scoring pass. Micah Andrews gained 57 tough yards in helping spark the comeback. The Demon Deacons ran all over Florida State’s 11th-ranked run defense, gaining 180 yards, more than double the Seminoles’ 81.8 yards entering the game.
“Everybody got that first hit, and after that, we kind of figured out that … we can play with these guys,” Andrews said.
Wake Forest’s defense in the first half allowed two big plays that set up the Seminoles’ two scoring drives, then shut them down after halftime. The Demon Deacons forced five second-half punts, intercepted two passes and allowed 105 total yards after the break—with a good chunk coming after Swank’s late kick. Florida State’s rushing offense never could get going, finishing with 47 yards on 24 carries.
“They pretty much ran a similar offense that we saw last week against Duke,” Wake Forest defensive lineman Jeremy Thompson said. “We pretty much knew what they were going to show us.”
Lee finished 24-of-45 for 283 yards and two touchdowns for the Seminoles, who led 14-7 at halftime before the Demon Deacons’ offense began clicking.
Wake Forest moved 80 yards in nine plays late in the third quarter to force a 14-14 tie—a drive that started when Alphonso Smith intercepted Lee in the end zone. Skinner capped the drive with a nifty play in which he faked a handoff to Adams, deked like he would roll right and instead reversed field and flipped to the wide-open tailback for a 6-yard score.
Florida State rallied from an early deficit by using two big plays to set up short touchdowns passes. Lee hit Parker for 58 yards and then hooked up again three plays later from 6 yards out—the first TD of the receiver’s career— that snapped a five-quarter scoreless streak against Wake Forest.
Later, Carr outjumped Smith on a 50-yard gain down the right sideline, then did it again in the left corner of the end zone to make it 14-7 43 seconds before halftime.
Adams had given Wake Forest a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter when he took a handoff at his own 17, stutter-stepped through the line and burst down the right sideline for the fourth-longest touchdown run in school history and the longest run allowed by Florida State in more than a decade.
“The home run, that’s what Josh gives you,” Grobe said. “Against a team like Florida State, you’ve got to have that once in a while.”