BOONE, N.C. — Quarterback John Wolford figured Wake Forest had lost its chance to escape the mountains with a win over Appalachian State when the Deacons jumped offside on a late field goal attempt.
But Wolford’s doom turned to glee when teammate Scotty Washington got a hand on Michael Rubino’s 39-yard field goal attempt with five seconds remaining, allowing the Demon Deacons to remain unbeaten with 20-19 win in a wild game that featured six lead changes.
“When we jumped offside I got a little negative,” Wolford admitted. “Like, he’s going to miss two in a row? What are the odds of that? But Scotty came up huge. Football is a crazy game. You win games in different ways.”
Four major special teams miscues cost the Mountaineers a chance at victory in front of the largest crowd to see a game at Kidd Brewer Stadium — 35,126. Appalachian State also had an extra point blocked, missed a short field goal at the end of the first half and jumped offside on a fourth-and-4 punt that gave Wake Forest another set of downs and led to a touchdown.
Wolford shook off a sluggish first half and threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 77 yards as Wake Forest improved to 4-0 on the season entering ACC play.
Taylor Lamb threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns for Appalachian State (2-2) and T.J. Watkins had three catches for 102 yards and an 84-yard touchdown.
Trailing 20-19 and faced with a fourth-and-14 at midfield with 2:20 left, Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield elected to punt the ball with three timeouts remaining, banking on his defense to come up with a stop.
They did, giving Lamb one more shot from his own 46.
The Mountaineers got a first down on a pass interference penalty on a fourth-and-14 pass to reach the Wake Forest 27. The Deacons jumped offside on the first field goal attempt, moving Rubino’s attempt up to the 39-yard line. But the 6-foot-5 Washington got his hand on the ball in the middle of the line to preserve the victory.
Washington said it’s a play the Deacons practice every Thursday.
“It was a low kick and I just jumped as high as I could and got it with my right hand,” Washington said. “It was one of those games you dream of.”
Said Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson: “If that ball is a little higher it’s a totally different celebration on the sideline.”
Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said Rubino probably didn’t hit the ball well as well he wanted to on the last kick.
“These kickers, it’s hard,” Satterfield said. “All the spotlight is on them, but it’s not just them. It’s the snap. It’s the hold. There’s so much timing that goes into it.”
Wake Forest trailed 9-3 at halftime after being limited to 106 yards and five first downs.
But Wolford, who had just 49 yards passing before intermission, found his groove to start the third quarter, leading touchdowns drives of 97 and 75 yards. He completed seven of his first 10 passes for 100 yards, including TD tosses of 10 yards to freshman receiver Greg Dortch and 3 yards to reliable tight end Cam Serigne to give the Deacons a 17-16 lead.
“It was perhaps the poorest first half we have had here,” Wolford said. “But in the second half we stepped it up and it was a total team win.”
The schools played 22 times from 1975 until 2001 but never in Boone until this year.
Appalachian State led 9-3 at halftime. The only touchdown came on a flea flicker off a reverse. Lamb handed off to Terrence Upshaw, who pitched back to Malik Williams coming around the end. Williams then pitched back to Lamb who threw to Levi Duffield for a 20-yard touchdown.
MOVING ON UP
Lamb moved into second place in school history in yards passing and now stands behind only former NFL third-round draft pick Armanti Edwards.
DORTCHED HIM AGAIN
Dortch has had an amazing start to his Wake Forest career. He has now scored in all four games this season for the Demon Deacons, becoming the first freshman in school history to accomplish that feat. Dortch has a team-high five TD catches.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had four consecutive three-and-outs on the first half and struggled early on offensively. However, they made some adjustments in the second half to jumpstart the offense. Still, there were too many lapses overall on offense.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers proved they could play with an ACC team, but special teams blunders ultimately cost them a chance to win. The Mountaineers outgained Wake Forest 494-344. “For us to go toe-to-toe with these guys, I’m extremely proud of them,” Satterfield said. “Looking at the stats, we played really good. No turnovers, and played a really clean football game.”
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons open ACC play when they host No. 12 Florida State.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers return home for a Sun Belt Conference game against New Mexico State.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org