50 minutes to kickoff: I have arrived at the Carrier Dome! Observation: it is hot. Like walking into a sauna.
10 minutes to kickoff: the journalist sitting next to me asks me if the cookies are soft or hard. “Soft,” I tell him. He reports that they tend to be soft during basketball games but hard during football games. We’re bucking trends tonight! Is that a good sign or a bad one? I have no idea.
6:20 0-3 SU’s offense seems tight. Lots of throwaways, and a couple bad drops as well. No first downs so far. The defense, fortunately, is playing better. They seem just as amped up but in a more focused way. They’ve had some lapses and a few penalties, but they’ve had some good stands too, holding Wake to just a field goal on an early trip to the red zone.
3:43 0-3 Our first truly ridiculous sequence of the game! SU with another solid red zone stand that leads to a missed field goal. Wake gets another chance on a roughing the kicker penalty. They promptly miss a second one, a 34-yarder. At this point SU is down 3. They should probably be down 10–they caught a ton of breaks this drive. The missed field goals, of course, but Wake also botched a snap for a big loss, and, most importantly, WR Chris Givens for Wake fell over catching a ball down the sideline when had about five yards on the entire SU secondary.
3:02 0-3 Another Orange 3 and out on an incomplete pass to an open guy. Bad sign.
2:54 0-3 …and it’s another bad penalty: interference on the catch when the Wake punt returner gets obliterated like two seconds before the ball arrives.
1:04 0-3 Wake is starting to find holes in the Orange defense. Uh-oh. QB Tanner Price is throwing basically wherever he wants to.
0:00 0-3 SU escapes the quarter somehow down only 3. Unfortunately Wake is threatening: on the Orange 25, third and eight.
14:27 0-6 Wake nabs another field goal (2 for 4, baby!), making it a 6 point game. Still, down six after allowing three trips to the red zone compared to zero first downs on offense (and –5 total yards) is pretty solid, all things considered.
14:19 0-6 Signs of life! Jeremiah Kobena with a 37 yard return, followed by two (two!) completed passes.
12:45 0-6 …And another three and out. But! Shane Raupers drops a punt in on the Wake Forest 2 yard line, and SU covers.
11:29 0-6 Stifling defense from the Orange leads to a comically bad punt, and just like that, SU is starting on the Wake 37, practically in field goal range already. The crowd, which looks to be at about half capacity, is finally waking up.
10:00ish 0-6 Another completed pass! They’ve all been like 2-yard screen passes, but hey. Baby steps.
9:29 7-6 TE Nick Provo catches a pass over the middle, breaks a tackle, and rumbles into the endzone for a touchdown. It feels like it must run counter to several natural laws, but SU is up 7-6.
9:20 7-13 Well, that didn’t last long. This time, Givens manages to keep his footing while roasting the Orange secondary deep, and goes 60 yards to put Wake back up by six. Really bad timing for SU–both the D and O seemed to be clicking up to that point. How will the Orange respond?
7:48 7-13 If you guessed “three and out,” congratulations, you win the prize. After a 6 yard return that featured Kobena tripping over his own teammate, Nassib gives the crowd trauma flashbacks to last quarter with a throw that sails a full five yards behind his receiver. Raupers booms another 46 yard punt, and now is probably a good time to mention that the Orange are killing it on special teams right now. Kobena’s long return and Raupers’ punt to the two set up SU’s lone touchdown; more to the point, when your offense is so out of sync, every extra yard helps.
7:31 7-13 Dude somewhere below is screaming “Let’s go!” so loud I’m afraid his vocal cords might explode.
2:18 7-20 Price whips what looks like a desperation heave to the back right corner. Instead he hits #3 Michael Campanero in stride for a TD. Ridiculous pass. Price has been absolutely picking apart the SU secondary, and Wake (not to mention SU’s anemic offense) is putting a ton of pressure on the Orange D. They’ve been on the field way too much, and Wake is figuring them out.
1:34 7-20 Nassib is hitting more passes, but the offensive line is looking, shall we say, a touch porous. And, hey, another 3 and out! I haven’t been keeping close track, but I think that’s like the 27th on the night.
0:00 7-20 Halftime! Mercifully. The Orange trail by 13 but, again, it feels like it should be so much worse. Wake has 258 yards of total offense to SU’s 52 (Price has 201 in the air), and they’ve picked up 14 first downs to SU’s 2. The lone silver lining might be my man Raupers, who’s out-kicking his opposite number by a full 10 yards per punt. The other silver lining: SU is down by 13, not 40. Also, now the defense has a chance to rest. Hey, things are looking up!
11:38 7-20 Finally, a pass that isn’t a screen! Nassib goes over the middle to WR Van Chew for SU’s third first down of the game. Not to worry, though––after threatening to take the momentum, SU meekly stalls on the 49.
10:49 7-20 What was shaping up to be a nice defensive stand gets derailed when Price finds Campanaro open by ten yards in every direction on a cross.
10:20 7-20 Sack! Followed by awesome pressure. SU’s defense continues to keep the Orange in the game. They’ve had some lapses–the way Price keeps carving up the secondary is particularly worrisome–but there’s no way this game should even be remotely close. The fact that it is is pretty much all on the D.
7:28 7-20 After Wake’s forced to punt, SU starts marching down the field. (No, seriously.) A Wake player bear hugs an SU receiver practically before the ball is even thrown. Pass interference! First down! Hey, we’ll take what we can get. Gift horses etc.
7:17 7-20 Nassib’s play of the game so far. Scrambling, he breaks a tackle and nails HB Prince-Tyson Gulley for first and ten on the Wake 15. Nassib’s starting to hit the passes on the run that he was badly missing in the first half.
6:14 7-20 SU’s charmed life continues! Nassib decides to whip it over the middle through traffic and the ball pops up, allowing a Wake player to make a flailing, diving interception, which looks sort of funny in person but is also the kind of heinously athletic feat normal people can only dream of doing. Fortunately, the Orange maintain possession on a roughing the passer penalty. First and goal!
5:33 14-20 HB Antwon Bailey, who’s been SU’s entire ground game, bulls his way into the endzone, and the Orange are suddenly within six, 30 points closer than they have any right to be. A bonus: the long (real time) drive gave the defense some more rest. How’s the secondary going to hold up?
0:20 14-26 That one hurts. Wake gets a third and a fourth down conversion and breaks through for a TD. Still, SU’s string of sort-of-good-but-not-quite-good-enough luck continues, and Wake biffs the PAT.
14:53 14-26 A promising carry from Bailey turns into a fumble, which Wake promptly recovers. Whatever rickety wheels were carrying the offense just went spinning off.
12:09 14-26 After lasering another pass to the two yard line–which is called back on a hold–Price goes down with a knee injury and limps off the field. Terrible luck for him, and here’s hoping it’s not serious. In the meantime, the penalty may have pushed Wake out of field goal range.
11:40 14-29 Never mind. Wake gets the three. The Orange defense looks dejected walking off the field.
8:26 21-29 Nassib tosses a 2-yarder to FB Adam Harris, who stumbles into the endzone to cap the best Orange drive of the game by far. Nassib was excellent throwing on the run, including a wrong-footed 21-yard pass to WR Alec Lemon (who’s quietly been in the thick of it on most of SU’s good drives), and Bailey picked up a bunch of yards on the ground. Too bad it took the offense until now to wake up. Still, after a penalty and a re-kick on the extra point, SU is, incredibly, within 8.
8:19 21-29 Wake starts from their own 23. Price is still out, replaced by backup Ted Stachitas.
7:32 21-29 DE Chandler Jones with a monster hit on Stachitas, but the pass is complete for five yards. Third and four.
7:28 21-29 The crowd is going bonkers, and Wake seems confused on the line. Tackle for a loss! And it’s fourth and nine. Bold prediction: in the coming days, a lot of people are going to describe the Orange defense as “gritty.”
7:19 21-29 Short kick! SU has the ball just past midfield, still down 8.
7:07 29-29 Using a killer block by (I think) LG Zack Chibane, Bailey turns the corner on the outside and goes 53 yards for a touchdown. After the TD, Van Chew toes the sideline on a diving grab for the two point conversion. We have a tie game with seven minutes left. Don’t ask me how it happened. I’m confused too.
7:07 29-29 FS Jeremi Wilkes absolutely wrecks Campanaro on the 16 to save what looked like it might be a big return.
5:24 29-29 And it’s a diving pick from CB Kevyn Scott! SU ball on the Wake 32!
4:21 29-29 Wake again looks discombobulated. They’re scrambling on D.
3:40 29-29 Even the SU coaches are trying to get the crowd up. Honestly the crowd’s been great all fourth quarter. Except for the people who left early.
2:07 29-29 I was about to write something along the lines of ‘how big are those missed field goals and that missed extra point?’ But then Wake had to go and block SU’s field goal attempt, and it remains a tie game as we tick down to two minutes to go. I guess the point stands, though. How big are those misses? There’s no way this should be a tie game.
1:06 29-29 Hoo boy, the secondary’s looking shaky again. Wake marches it to the SU 44.
0:53 29-29 Sack! Right after a great pass rush on the last play. Wake concedes regulation. We’re going to overtime!
SU in possession: SU starts on the 25. Nassib makes yet another great pass while scrambling, followed by a draw play for Bailey, and it’s on the four, and now HOLY COW Van Chew makes ANOTHER diving grab in the front left corner! Will it stand? YES. Point after is almost blocked but it makes it through. Thank god.
WAKE FOREST in possession: At this point, my notes have decayed into gibberish. I remember some incomplete passes, and then on fourth and ten Scott (I believe) comes up big again and breaks up a desperation heave to the right side of the end zone, and now the Dome seems like it’s going to explode, or my ears are. GAME. Wow. What a way to start the season.Corey Mallonee (Follow on Twitter @CoreyMallonee)