WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Sam Hartman threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and A.T. Perry grabbed seven passes for 155 yards and a TD as Wake Forest cruised past mistake-plagued Florida State 35-14 Saturday afternoon.
Wake Forest (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) rolled up 484 yards — 332 in the first half — of total offense, including 225 on the ground. Florida State (0-3, 0-1), which juggled McKenzie Milton and Jordan Travis at quarterback, committed six turnovers, but stayed within striking range in the first half thanks to a 65-yard deep strike from Travis to a wide-open Ontaria Wilson.
“The offensive line did an incredible job,” Hartman said.
Hartman hit Perry in stride with a deep strike down the right side for a 49-yard TD to start the onslaught. The Deacons scored their next two touchdowns after roughing-the-kicker and unnecessary-roughness penalties extended drives.
“No way did we ever give ourselves a chance to play winning football,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “We continue to see the mistakes that cost us in the previous weeks.”
Leading by 21 points late in the third quarter, Wake Forest wiped out any realistic Florida State hopes by stopping Milton short of a first down on a fourth-and-2 run from the Deacons’ 11.
Early in the scoreless fourth quarter, Milton fumbled the ball into the Wake Forest end zone while stretching for the goal line.
The ball slipped in and out of the hands of players on both teams before it was recovered by Deacons defensive end Luiji Vilain for a touchback.
“That kind of changed the game,” Hartman said of the touchback. “The defense I would say won this game for us.”
Milton lost a fumble again on the next drive when crunched by defenders while trying to avoid a pass rush.
Perry, who also went high to haul in a 44-yard pass late in the first half, had six catches for 141 yards at halftime.
“We really knew we had to come in with some fire,” Perry said. “This is a statement.”
Florida State: Already reeling from a loss to Jacksonville State, the Seminoles were pushed around by the Deacons, and seem headed toward a fourth consecutive losing season. Turnovers and the critical first-half penalties prevented them from mounting a serious threat. In the trenches, Florida State was unable to run straight ahead. On defense, the Seminoles gave up big plays and missed too many tackles.
Wake Forest: Following a pair of victories over non-FBS opponents, the Deacons passed their first ACC test. Hartman was particularly impressive, not only throwing, but scrambling from pressure. The Deacons seemed content to kill clock in the fourth quarter. With Hartman at the controls of a dangerous attack, the Deacons could be the surprise of the ACC.
Florida State again used both Milton and Travis at quarterback. Milton got the nod for most of the second half and the Seminoles moved the ball, but his fumbles were costly. Milton finished with 119 yards and two interceptions with 11 completions on 16 attempts. Travis was 5-for-6 passing for 107 yards, two TDs and an interception.
Hartman was effective running the ball when needed. The sophomore broke a tackle on a 23-yard run to set up the Deacons’ first TD. In the second half, he tumbled over defenders, landing on his head, for a 2-point conversion.
Though they didn’t receive a single vote in last week’s AP Top 25, the Deacons are in position to climb into rankings and up the ladder in the struggling ACC. If they don’t get any votes Sunday, they likely would with a victory at Virginia. With Louisville, Syracuse, Army and Duke to follow, The Deacons are in poll position.
Florida State: The Seminoles play at home on Saturday against Louisville.
Wake Forest: The Deacons play on Friday night at Virginia.
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