WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — One week season.
That’s been the mantra for Dave Clawson’s Deacs.
Coming off consecutive 3-9 campaigns to begin his tenure, Clawson felt like he had a squad that could accomplish something this season.
But the margin for error was small. Youth and depth were still a concern, and for this team to live up to its potential Clawson knew it would need to stay focused.
So the Deacs began their long journey through the season instead honing in on 12 one-week seasons. Prepare, scout, game plan and execute — one week, one game at a time.
Win enough of the individual one week seasons and all the sudden you start building something greater.
That something greater was realized Saturday afternoon, as the Deacs topped Virginia 27-20 at BB&T Field to become bowl eligible for the 11th time in program history.
With back-to-back matchups against top-five ranked teams Louisville and Clemson looming, grabbing the win Saturday had to be quite a relief for Clawson.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t. Six is a magic number, and now you work like crazy to get to seven,” Clawson said. “But it’s nice to know we’ve got six and we’re now bowl eligible. It’s a great feeling.
“I was very open about it and very frank about it at the beginning of the year, that I thought it was a very realistic expectation for us to go to a bowl game this year. I would have been very disappointed if we didn’t get into a bowl.”
Much like the other five this season, win No. 6 didn’t come easy for the Deacs.
Despite rebounding from a quick UVA score to take a 17-6 lead at the half, the Deacs found themselves behind 20-17 as the 4th quarter began.
The Wake defense made the difference late, picking off two Kurt Benkert passes, leading to two scores for the come-from-behind victory.
“It was just an amazing job by our whole team, and our defense to get those two turnovers. Cam Glenn with the one, Jessie Bates — big time players make big time plays, and Jessie’s play was an absolute game-changer for us,” Clawson said.
The Deacs rushed for 226 yards, but had just 79 total offensive yards in the second half while UVA took temporary control of the game.
Wake quarterback John Wolford was 8-for-9 passing for 83 yard, but he also rushed for 94 yards, including a 64-yard scamper for a touchdown.
“John is a warrior,” Wake tight end Cam Serigne said. “I couldn’t be more proud. It motivates you everyday to play for a guy like that. He came out here tonight and led us to victory.”
The victory assures Wake an opportunity to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011.
“This gives us momentum, along with building a brand new football center,” Clawson said. “This gives us recruiting momentum. This gives us program momentum.”
It was clearly a locker room full of jubilant Deacs.
“The greatest thing about this whole thing is that locker room,” Clawson said. “We have some kids in there who have really busted their butts and put a lot into this program for three, four and five years. The high of moments like that is why you keep coaching.”
They were loud and boisterous, and both their hooting and their hollering could be once again heard in the press conference area for several minutes.
Happy of course, to go 1-0 for the week, but also happy that they are part of a team that are taking the program to a bowl game once again.