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November 25, 2006

Wake Forest claims Atlantic Division crown

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -Wake Forest completed the finest road performance in Atlantic Coast Conference history against a team it had trouble beating anywhere.

Now, after defeating Maryland 38-24 Saturday night, the No. 20 Demon Deacons will take their successful road show to Florida to play for the league championship.

Wake Forest (10-2, 6-2) will be seeking its first ACC title since 1970 next Saturday against Georgia Tech in Jacksonville. The teams did not face each other this season.

The final game of a crazy ACC regular season matched two of the league's most surprising teams in a duel for the Atlantic Division title. Wake Forest handed Maryland (8-4, 5-3) its first home loss behind an offense that was virtually unstoppable.

Kenneth Moore ran for 165 yards and a touchdown, Kevin Harris scored twice, and freshman quarterback Riley Skinner went 10-for-13 for 125 yards and a touchdown for the Demon Deacons, who became the first ACC team in history to go 6-0 on the road.

It was Wake Forest's first win in eight tries against Maryland since 1998. The Demon Deacons were 13-40-1 against the Terrapins and had scored as many as 38 points against them only twice before.

Wake Forest went up 28-14 with an 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. Moore had runs of 15 and 23 yards and Skinner went 3-for-3 for 35 yards before Harris scored from the 3.

Maryland's Keon Lattimore then accounted for all the yardage in a 49-yard drive that produced a 26-yard field goal by Dan Ennis, but the Deacons answered with a field goal to restore the 14-point cushion.

Maryland closed to 31-24 when Sam Hollenbach threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams with 12:54 left. But Wake Forest responded with a 10-play, 76-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Rich Belton on a gutsy fourth-down call by Deacons coach Jim Grobe.

Lattimore rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, only the third player to reach the 100-yard mark against the Demon Deacons this season. Hollenbach was 14-for-26 for 125 yards, but threw three interceptions.

Wake Forest yielded 215 yards in the first half, but benefited from Hollenbach's turnovers in taking a 21-14 lead.

Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives. Lattimore ran in from the 12 before Harris concluded a 13-play possession with a 2-yard run.

Next came an exchange of turnovers. After Riley Swanson took an interception 30 yards to the Maryland 16, an apparent touchdown run by Moore was erased by a holding call. On the next play, Skinner threw his first interception on the road.

Terps cornerback Isaiah Gardner unwisely chose to run it out of the end zone and was tackled at the 4. A short punt gave Wake Forest the ball at the Maryland 38, and a 19-yard touchdown run by Moore made it 14-7 early in the second quarter.

The Terrapins' next two drives ended in interceptions by Alphonso Smith. After the latter turnover, Skinner threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Willie Idlette for a 21-7 lead.

Maryland then got a 1-yard touchdown run by Lance Ball.

For more coverage of Wake Forest, visit DeaconsIllustrated.com; for more on Maryland, visit TerrapinTimes.com.

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