Shootout at Wake

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A Sam Swank 41-yard field goal with three seconds to go did Ole Miss in and gave No. 20 Wake Forest a victory over the Rebels 30-28 in a thriller before 31,986 at Groves Stadium/BB&T Field.

The Rebels had scored with 1:01 to go and appeared to have victory in their grasp. WFU's head coach thought so, too.

"I was really down when we didn't get it done on defense and they scored," said Jim Grobe. "But then I turned around and saw No. 11, and I thought maybe we do have a chance."

No. 11 is All-America quarterback candidate Riley Skinner, who drove his team right down the field to the Rebel 24 to set things up for Swank. On the drive's 10th play, the senior placekicker simply did his job.

The Rebels had taken a 28-27 lead with 1:01 left on the clock when Jevan Snead hit Cordera Eason on a 5-yard pass for a touchdown on fourth and 3 at the Demon Deacon 5-yard line, capping a 15-play, 80-yard drive, taking 7:06 off the game clock. Joshua Shene was good on the point after, but the Rebels then had to stop one of the country's most effective offenses.

The Rebs had three turnovers in the contest (one fumble, one interception by Snead, one inteception by Dexter McCluster). The Deacons had only one. UM head coach Houston Nutt said that was a killer.

"I was proud of the way our team played," he said. "I thought we fought and hung in there. I was disappointed in the gifts we gave them. We talked all week about not giving them gifts because they're too good."

If Skinner was impressive on the game-winning drive, and he was, Rebel sophomore signal caller Jevan Snead was equally and perhaps even more impressive on the Rebels' drive right before that.

A sideline pass to Marshay Green for eight yards. An escape from a near sack and heavy rush and a heave to Eason while falling to the ground amidst that pressure. A pass in the left flat for 10 yards to Brandon Bolden to the 5-yard line set up the fourth down play. The Rebels only needed three yards to keep the drive alive but got five yards and a touchdown.

On that scoring play, Snead went back, looked, looked, moved around and drilled a pass just across the goal line to Eason for six points, with Shene then adding the go-ahead point.

That's when Skinner went to work and drove the Demon Deacons downfield to get Swank into position.

The Deacons had taken a 27-21 lead with 11:37 left on a 12-yard run by Brandon Pendergrass. Swank, the veteran kicker, was good and Wake Forest led bix six.

After exchanging punts, the Rebs got it back for their sensational final drive led by Snead.

In the first quarter, the Demon Deacons got on the scoreboard first after a punt return mishap for the Rebels. Swank punted after the Deacons first possession went nowhere and the ball, headed for returner Marshay Green, hit Dustin Mouzon on the foot. It was recovered by the home team at the Rebels 14-yard line and two plays later Skinner hit Kevin Harris for a touchdown. The extra point by Swank was good and Wake Forest led 7-0 early.

After an exchange of punts, the Rebels moved in for a score to tie the game. Last week Ole Miss' first drive in a 41-24 win over Memphis was a 97-yarder. This time it was 94 yards. Snead directed the Rebs downfield in nine plays, the big play a "Wild Rebel" snap to Dexter McCluster who handed off to Brandon Bolden who then handed to Snead. Snead then passed to Bolden on a 33-yard gain to the WFU 4-yard line. Snead connected with Gerald Harris on the next play, followed by a Shene point after for a 7-7 game with 4:12 to go in the first quarter.

Ole Miss held Wake on its next possession, and the Rebels went back downfield for points. From their own 17-yard line, the Rebs moved 83 yards in nine plays in 3:34. The touchdown came on a magnificent Snead to Shay Hodge 28-yard play. The Rebel sophomore quarterback broke free from a tackler in the backfield, looked downfield and spoted Hodge. The Rebel receiver was well-covered by Deacon safety Alex Frye but Hodge wrestled the football away from him in the end zone for the go-ahead score. Shene was good and Ole Miss led by seven.

The Demon Deacons closed the gap with a long, 16-play drive that covered 64 yards over seven minutes, capped by a 21-yard field goal by Swank with one second left on the second period clock. That Rebels led 14-10 at halftime.

Skinner was accurate on the last drive, and the final play from the 3-yard line before the field goal was a completion to running back Josh Adams. But Dustin Mouzon stepped up and made a terrific solo tackle for a loss of a yard, and that's when the Deacs had to settle for three points.

The opposing quarterbacks had excellent first halves and set the tones for the respective offenses. Snead was 13-of-17 in the first half with two touchdowns, while Skinner was 14-of-18 with one score. The Rebs outgained the Deacs 199 to 137 in the opening half.

It was all Demon Deacons in the third period as the home team put up 10 points on a 27-yard Swank field goal to pull his team to within a point at 14-13, and a touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Skinner to Marsh Williams, along with a PAT by Swank, to lead 20-14.

The Rebels went back out in front with 14:11 to go in the game on a 31-yard pass from Snead to McCluster in the right flat. McCluster simply outraced the Deac defenders into the end zone. Shene's kick made it 21-20.

The Rebels had got the football back when Wake fumbled a punt return to open the fourth quarter and Marcus Temple recovered for UM at the WFU 30. After Eason lost a yard, Snead hit McCluster for six.

That's when things got even more interesting in this one, which turned out to be every bit the exciting SEC-ACC matchup many had predicted.

Snead finished the game 20-of-31 for 253 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Skinner was 32-of-43 for 267 yards and two touchdowns.

The Rebels outgained Wake Forest 360 to 348. Ole Miss had 107 yards on the ground to Wake's 81.

The Demon Deacons had 22 first downs to the Rebels' 21.

Kendrick Lewis led UM with nine tackles, while Jamarca Sanford had eight. For Wake, Stanley Arnoux had eight and Chip Vaughn six.

Wake (2-0) is off next week while Ole Miss (1-1) hosts Samford.

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