Clemson football's defensive backfield, already thin because of injuries, hurt itself even more with mistakes Saturday.
The Demon Deacons benefitted from penalties by the Clemson defensive backs on both of their touchdowns drives and were down only 20-14 to the fifth-ranked Tigers at halftime of the game at Truist Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Wake Forest, ranked No. 16, was looking to break a 13-game losing streak to Clemson and a 62-game losing streak to teams in the Associated Press Top 25. It was the first time both teams were ranked at the same time since 1950.
In the first quarter, Clemson had defensive pass interference penalties by freshman Toriano Pride Jr. and Fred Davis to allow Wake Forest to continue a drive that ended with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Sam Hartman to Jahmal Banks as the Demon Deacons trimmed the Tigers' lead to 14-7. Banks beat Davis one play after he was called for the penalty.
In the second quarter, Clemson had a pass interference call against Nate Wiggins to start a drive as he failed to turn around for the ball while covering a receiver. Then on a play that was going nowhere for Wake Forest because K.J. Henry of Clemson was chasing Hartman to force an overthrow, Pride was flagged for a late hit. Referees looked at replays to determine if it targeting. They decided it wasn't and Pride was not ejected.
Pride, however, then gave up a 30-yard pass to Banks down to the 5-yard line and again for a touchdown as Wake Forest pulled to within 17-14.
Clemson was playing without starting defensive backs Andrew Mukuba and Sheridan Jones as well as Malcolm Greene because of injuries.
Todd Shanesy covers Clemson athletics for the USA TODAY Network.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Clemson football defensive backs have penalty problem vs. Wake Forest