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Wake Forest Gets its First ACC Victory

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Wake Forest was coming off a 56-7 loss at No. 3 Clemson last week, and ranked last in the 14-team league in both scoring (18.4 points per game) and total offense (316 yards) coming in.

"I just had a sense that this was different."
~Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has been waiting for something different — higher energy, more fight, better execution — from his underachieving team. His Demon Deacons finally delivered Saturday.

Tanner Price threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score to help Wake Forest beat North Carolina State 28-13, extending its mastery of the Wolfpack at home.

Michael Campanaro caught two of Price's scoring throws in a huge performance of his own, helping the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shake free of the funk that had hung over their first five games.

"I just had a sense that this was different," Grobe said. "There was a different feel."

He was right. With Price looking sharp, Campanaro continually getting open and the defense frustrating the Wolfpack's no-huddle offense, Wake Forest earned its sixth straight home win against the Wolfpack (3-2, 0-2).

N.C. State hasn't won here in a dozen years in a mystifying streak. The only common thread is Grobe, the 13th-year coach who coaxed the best performance of the season from his team at the perfect time.

Wake Forest was coming off a 56-7 loss at No. 3 Clemson last week, and ranked last in the 14-team league in both scoring (18.4 points per game) and total offense (316 yards) coming in.

But it was more than numbers that had frustrated Grobe, now one away from tying the school record for career wins (77). He said this week that practice work hadn't carried over to game days and there had been "more electricity" coming from his coaching staff than his players.

This time, Wake Forest finished with 382 total yards, its best total since getting 408 in the opener against Presbyterian.

"We've not had one football game this year that I've felt good about," Grobe said. "... I always feel great with wins but none of it felt good to me. It didn't feel like Deacs. I told the kids we've got a reputation for playing Deac ball: that means full speed and smart. We just haven't had the electricity, we haven't had the spark. Today I felt it coming out."

Price threw for 268 yards and ran for a career-high 82 more, while Campanaro had 12 catches for 153 yards. His first touchdown came with 6 seconds left in the opening half for a big boost. His second touchdown, a 27-yard grab on a perfect throw from Price, gave Wake Forest a two-touchdown fourth-quarter lead.

"There was just a buzz in the locker room," Campanaro said. "Everybody was talking, everyone was going. I think we were more fired up at halftime than before the game. We were getting rowdy in there. We just knew our backs were against the wall and this was a make-or-break for our season."

As a result, N.C. State has lost eight of nine here dating to 1997. The Wolfpack's last win came in 2001, when 10-year NFL veteran Philip Rivers was a sophomore quarterback.

"I don't know what it is about Winston-Salem," senior cornerback Dontae Johnson said, "but we really do struggle here."

More importantly, the game was first-year coach Dave Doeren's first chance to see how his team responded to playing on the road. What did he learn?

"That we don't execute on the road the way we do at home," he said. "We talked about it umpteen million times this week. That was my message downstairs. The message has to go from the locker room to the field and show up on game day. They knew what they needed to do today, and we didn't do it."

N.C. State also had eight penalties for 74 yards, including a roughing-the-kicker call that allowed Wake Forest to swap a field goal for Price's 3-yard scoring pass to Jared Crump that made it 21-10 midway through the third.

Pete Thomas threw for 257 yards and an 11-yard score to Quinton Payton for a 10-7 lead with 39 seconds left before halftime, though Campararo's first score — set up by a 54-yard catch-and-run by tight end Spencer Bishop — took momentum right back.

The Wolfpack never returned to the end zone in what might have been Thomas' last starting opportunity before the return of Brandon Mitchell.

Doeren said earlier this week that Mitchell, the Arkansas graduate transfer who suffered a broken left foot after just three series in the opener, has a chance to play next week at home against new ACC member Syracuse.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press