The Demon Deacons kicked off their pool play with a match against NC State. The Deacs got off to a quick start with tries from freshman Mitch D’eramo and senior Johnny McMurray, but the Wolfpack shook off the cobwebs in the second half, slipping a few tackles and climbing back to win the game 24-12.
Next up, the Deacs faced off with Maryland. Wake Forest controlled possession for the better part of the first half, but the momentum changed just before the break as a series of offsides penalties sent senior Jack Zimmerman to serve a stint in the sin bin. The six remaining Deacons kept their composure and held the Terps scoreless throughout the two-minute advantage by maintaining a very conservative attack and tight defense. Freshman Austin Cunningham touched down two tries during the match; conversions from senior Johnny McMurray, who put in another try of his own, lifted Wake Forest to a 21-5 victory.
The Demon Deacons wrapped up pool play with a match against Virginia Tech, who will be joining NC State at the CRC sevens tournament in June. The Deacs’ defensive efforts were labored, creating several scoring opportunities for the speedy Hokies; a lone try from McMurray softened the blow of a 40-7 defeat.
With the pool play results tallied, the Deacons advanced to the 5th place match, where they faced in-state rival UNC. Both teams were very selective about their attacking options, but strong decision-making and outstanding support gave Wake Forest the upper hand as tries from Zimmerman and D’eramo sent the Deacs into the final two minutes of play with a one-try lead.
The Tarheels were awarded a controversial try that evened the score at 12, but Wake put together a great display of ball handling and support that ended with McMurray in the try zone. Unfortunately, the official concluded that McMurray had knocked the ball on while grounding it and sent the match into sudden death. The tie was quickly broken when the opening kickoff took an unlucky bounce towards an oncoming Tarheel, who scooped up the ball in stride and made a break for the try zone to secure the victory.
While the day’s top honors ultimately went to the US Naval Academy, the tournament gave Wake Forest great practice for the upcoming ACRL sevens season. The Demon Deacons will have plenty of time to rest up and hone their skills in preparation for their first spring match, which take place in February.