WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest hadn’t overcome a ten-point or greater deficit for a win since 2009 against Stanford.
After John Wolford found Cortez Lewis for a 37-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, that streak was in serious jeopardy.
But Boston College (6-6, 2-6) went 73 yards in eight plays in its first drive of the fourth quarter for what became the game decided touchdown in a 17-14 win Saturday afternoon over the Deacs (6-6, 3-5).
In a game decided by just a field goal, many plays seem vital. The Deacs failed trick play in the fourth quarter was back-breaking, and normally reliable placekicker Mike Weaver going 0-for-2 proved crippling.
The Deacs await their bowl fate, which will be announced by Sunday, Dec. 4.
Here’s what Wake coach Clawson had to say to the assembled press after the loss.
On if there’s any way to quantify what impact the wind had on Weaver’s final field goal attempt
Clawson: “I don’t know. He’s hit those kicks before. We have confidence in Weav and he’s had a good year for us. If the offense would have scored a touchdown we would have won the game and it wouldn’t have come down to a kick.”
Of if the wind died down in the second half a bit
Clawson: “Yeah. The first half was really strong. The second half the flags were not blowing as much.”
On Boston College’s Harold Landry
Clawson: “He’s a great player. He’s one of the best ends in the league. I think he leads the conference in sacks. He’s a great player. When you go against a good end, whether it’s Chubb at N.C. State, Walker at Florida State, or the other people that have to block Duke Ejiofor, that’s a tough matchup. He’s a really good player. They play a lot of man coverage, so if you try to help and put a back on him and double him, then they add another back that you can’t block. They use him really well.”
On the defense playing so well all year, but then watching BC drive 73 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown, and how the BC tight end got free for those two big plays
Clawson: “The one play was a three-level play and the quarterback made a good throw. The other play we just got beat inside. He was in a tight split, he got knotted up and he got inside us. Our defense has played great, but they aren’t going to be perfect. The two other scores were on short fields off turnovers. To say you’re going to play a football game and not one time is the other team going to drive and score — that’s not a fair expectation for the defense. To me, the bigger story is we start so slow on offense. We got shutout in the first half. We didn’t make plays. I thought we gave our receivers opportunities to make plays in the first half on deep balls and they didn’t make them. In the second half, they did. They have to make those plays consistently.
“Against the elite defenses in this conference — Clemson, these guys, Louisville, we struggle. We still are not - we don’t have a lot of favorable matchups on the perimeter, and that’s clearly where we have to get better. Against the middle-of-the-road and lower defenses, we score 33, 28, 24 points. If we can score in the mid-20s with our defense — all those games, we won. If we don’t score 20 points, we’re not going to win a lot of ACC games. If you look at our losses, it’s 12 against Louisville, six against Florida State, 16 against N.C. State, 13 against Clemson, 14 against these guys. Those are probably statistically five of the top defenses in the ACC. That’s where we are.
“The improvement on offense is that we ran the ball more, we scored three-or-four more points, whatever it is. It was incremental, we rushed the ball better, but when we played good defenses, we didn’t score points.”
On facing those better defensive teams in the back half of the season
Clawson: “We certainly played the better defensive teams in the second half of the season, with the exception of N.C. State, who I think has a really good defense. The last three weeks, Louisville, Clemson and B.C. are No. 1, 2 and 3. Not once did we crack 20 points. We’re better, but there’s still a talent gap against those teams. B.C. came out, played man coverage, loaded the box and dared us to throw the ball on the perimeter. They dared us. When we made some plays in the second half, we scored some points, but we went half the game without doing anything.
“There’s no mystery when you defend us. We ran the ball better this year, and people are starting to respect our run game. Part two of becoming a good offense is you have to win on the perimeter, and we did not consistently win those this year in the passing game. We really fell off in our passing game. That’s something we need to improve on, through recruiting and player development. Some of those wideouts need to grow up and start playing more consistently. That’s our challenge moving forward. We can’t just can’t count on winning games here 17-13. At some point, you have to start scoring enough points to win. Again, in our good wins this year — Indiana, Virginia, Duke, 24, 28, 33. Those were good wins. Every loss has been in the teens or not enough.”
On what the next week looks like for the team while they wait for the bowl announcement
Clawson: “We’ll be on the road recruiting, and the team will lift, probably twice. We’ll practice next weekend, and then we’ll find out where we’re going Sunday. Then we’ll get our schedule together and figure out our bowl prep.”
On if emotion of senior day led to a slow start
Clawson: “You always worry about that. They were all emotional and crying, but you still have a game to play. Everybody has a senior day, so you try to get them back in the locker room and remind them to leave the emotions behind. In the first half, those two turnovers were killers. We talked so much about turnovers. We outgained them today by 120 yards. We had some costly penalties, and we had some costly turnovers. We lost the turnover battle 3-1, and we haven’t done that in games we won. Really disappointed, but we got six, we’re going to a bowl and we’re going to try to get that one.”
On Jessie Bates play in the punt return game, especially following the fumble
Clawson: “There was a lot of hidden yardage Jessie saved us on those. He made aggressive, smart plays on those punts. He’s a good player and good players get over their mistakes.”