Wake Forest pulls away for 38-21 win over Hens

Delaware receiver Diante Cherry goes up high to pull in a TD catch in the first half on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware receiver Diante Cherry goes up high to pull in a TD catch in the first half on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — For almost two quarters, Delaware somehow found a way to hang around with Wake Forest.

But the way the Demon Deacons were shutting down the Blue Hens’ offense, there’s no way it could last.

It didn’t.

Wake Forest broke open a three-point game with a touchdown to end the first half and another TD to start the second as it eventually put away Delaware, 38-21, before a crowd of 25,972 at BB&T Field  on Saturday night.

In the first football meeting between the two schools since 1932, the Division I FBS Demon Deacons (3-0) outgained the FCS Hens (2-1) by a decisive margin of 481 yards to 94. Wake Forest also held a 29-8 edge in first downs and almost a 20-minute edge in time of possession “We played a lot of plays on defense,” said coach Dave Brock, whose team has lost seven in a row to FBS teams. “I thought the kids battled and played hard. We were able to get the ball in the end zone and get a couple stops.

Delaware defensive end John Nassib brings down a Wake Forest ball carrier. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware defensive end John Nassib brings down a Wake Forest ball carrier. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“But we were a little overmatched. They’re a very, very good defensive football team. They whipped us up front certainly in the first half. We weren’t able to really do much. It’s frustrating.”

Delaware, though, converted a pair of first-half turnovers into touchdowns. When Thomas Jefferson scored on a 10-yard run with 6:17 left in the second quarter, the Hens trailed just 17-14.

But Wake Forest sandwiched its two touchdown drives around halftime to stretch its lead back to 31-14. The Deacons led 38-14 before Jalen Randolph scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone with 8:17 left in the game.

Delaware played without both starting running back Wes Hills (elbow) and starting quarterback Joe Walker, who injured his foot in last week’s win at Lafayette. Walker is expected to be back on the field when the Hens play next, at James Madison on Oct. 1 in their Colonial Athletic Association opener.

Senior Blake Rankin made his second career start at QB for Delaware, completing 6-of-20 passes for 38 yards with a touchdown.

Thomas Jefferson scores the Blue Hens’ second touchdown on a 10-yard run. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Thomas Jefferson scores the Blue Hens’ second touchdown on a 10-yard run. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Wake Forest lost its starting quarterback, Kendall Hinton, to an apparent knee injury in the first half. His replacement, John Woolford, was 13-for-24 for 155 yards with a touchdown passing and another running.

With Delaware trailing 10-0, an interception by cornerback Tenny Adewusi gave the Hens the ball at the Wake 10 late in the first quarter. Receiver Diante Cherry made a leaping catch on a 10-yard pass from Rankin for a TD with two seconds left in the first quarter.

Then, after the Deacons extended their lead back to 17-7, a fumble recovery by Ray Jones gave Delaware the ball at the Wake 19. Jefferson scored from the 10 to get the Hens back to within 17-14.

Randolph finished with 36 yards on seven carries while Jefferson added 30 yards on 10 carries.

Five different players had seven tackles to lead the Hens defensively.

“We left them out there too long,” said Brock. “We missed too many tackles. They run a good scheme. We had a couple assignment busts that led to third-down conversions and a couple long runs. You can’t allow that to happen.

“It’s back to the drawing board. We’re going to have a great opportunity to get better this off week. We’ve got two weeks to get ready for James Madison. We’ll be ready to rock and roll when we get to Harrisonburg.”

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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