WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Kenneth Walker III had 123 yards rushing and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead 75-yard scoring, run, and Wake Forest beat Virginia 40-23 Saturday.
On the first play from scrimmage after Brian Delaney’s 32-yard field goal that pulled Virginia into a tie at 23-all early in the fourth quarter, Walker took a handoff, bounced left, broke free from a Virginia tackler and raced down the left sideline.
Virginia’s Perris Jones muffed the ensuing kickoff while attempting to make a fair catch, setting up Walker for a 4-yard TD run that put the Demon Deacons (2-2, 1-2 ACC) in control for good.
Prior to Walker’s 75-yard run, the Cavs (1-3, 1-3 ACC) had shut down the Wake running game and kept consistent pressure on Sam Hartman, who was sacked three times. Wake finished with 174 yards rushing on 42 attempts. The Deacons were hampered by 12 penalties for 119 yards.
Hartman did create time to hit on some long pass plays. The sophomore completed 16 of 27 passes for 309 yards and one TD. Jaquarii Roberson caught seven passes for 126 yards.
The Deacons seemed on the verge of making quick work of the Cavs.
Hartman found A.T. Perry behind the Virginia defense for a 40-yard TD strike on the game’s opening drive. After holding the Cavs without a first down, the Deacons tacked on a second TD on 3-yard run by Walker that followed a 49-yard pass from Hartman to Roberson.
With starter Brennan Armstrong sidelined due to concussion protocol, Virginia used a combination of backups Lindell Stone, Iraken Armstead and Keytoan Thompson, often rotating Stone and Armstead in the same series.
After a slow start, the trio lead the Cavs back into a 20-20 tie at halftime. Delaney, who kicked three field goals, missed a 36-yarder that would have given the Cavs the lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter.
Stone, seldom used in his first three seasons at Virginia, completed 24 of 42 passes for 193 yards and two interceptions. Led by Thompson’s 71 yards on 10 carries, the Cavs rushed for 218 yards on 38 carries.
Armstead scored Virginia’s first TD on a 4-yard run, capping an 11-play, 73-yard drive on the first play of the second quarter. The Cavs sent the game into halftime tied at 20 on Wayne Taulapapa’s 15-yard TD run in the final two minutes.
Virginia: The Cavaliers let a great effort get away without a victory. Bronco Mendenhall’s team responded well after falling behind 14-0 in the first four minutes, but Walker’s 75-yard TD run and the kickoff muff were too much to overcome. The Cavs defense gave up some big passing plays but stiffened in short-yardage and third-down situations.
Wake Forest: The Deacons almost squandered a fast start against a Cavaliers team playing on the road without an established quarterback. The Deacons’ inability to mount a capable running attack allowed the Cavs to put the heat on Hartman, who was sacked three times while under a consistent pass rush. But the Deacons made big plays in the fourth quarter to hang on.
Virginia: The Cavs play at Miami on Oct. 24 in an 8 p.m. kickoff.
Wake Forest: The Deacons play host to Virginia Tech on Oct. 24 in 3:30 p.m. kickoff.