Upon receiving the opening kickoff, Wake Forest strung together over two and a half minutes of continuous play before the first whistle. With some quick back and forth, the strong start was quickly awarded when the host team would lose a scrum just 5 meters from their try line. Once the ball came out, Senior Jack Zimmerman was able to shake two would-be tacklers and touch down under the posts. John McMurray would add the conversion and give the Deacs a 7-0 lead after six minutes of play.
Not to be outdone by his long time teammate, McMurray was quick to find the try zone himself. Finding a gap around the wing, the senior put a kick ahead and found himself in a track meet with multiple defenders. With pressure defense in pursuit, McMurray gave the ball an extra nudge and was able to win the race into the try zone for another 5 points. Missing his own conversion would still give the visitors a 12-0 lead after just eleven minutes.
With the initial spark fading, both teams would settle into a more even battle as field conditions led to numerous handling errors and multiple reset scrums. In set pieces, the cohesive Demon Deacons would have the advantage over their mixed opponents. Seniors Rob Elmore and Liam McIntyre returned to the team for this one special match. Both veterans showed their experience as Elmore dominated in the lineouts stealing much of the opposition ball and McIntyre, playing 8-man, set up a solid platform to attack off the scrums.
Fellow classmates Dwaine Hodges and Bryce Lambert made their presence known in the front row, as Wake would steal many of the All-star put-ins.
Just minutes before the break, the Demon Deacons would find themselves knocking on the try line again. Sophomore John Passarelli would take a short ball off a ruck and make a strong run into a wall of defense. The tackler was too aggressive in his effort and would be sited for a dangerous tackle, which resulted in a penalty try and a yellow card. The conversion kick bounced the wrong way off the post and left the score at 17-0 in favor of Wake Forest.
Still holding a one-man advantage, Wake Forest made quick work off the second half restart. Freshman Austin Cunningham made a leaping catch to steal the kick off in the air. Making a quick break through the defense, the Deacons showed some great handling skills to keep the ball out of contact and Cunningham finished off what he started to add his own 5 pointer. McMurray slotted a fantastic conversion from the sideline to make it a 24-0 lead only 1 minute into the second half.
New line-up combinations caused the visitors to lose some focus while substitutions were rolling in. At 53 minutes the lack of chemistry led to some handling errors and miscues, which allowed the Atlanta All-stars to break onto the scoreboard. A missed conversion would leave the Demon Deacons well in control with the score at 24-5.
With a newly lit spark, the home team took the next kick off and used some strong forward runners to inch the ball deeper into Wake Forest territory. Tenacious tackling held out the barrage of crash runners for multiple phases, but the All-stars found a kink in the Deacs armor and added another try in their favor. The successful conversion would bring the score to 24-12 after 65 minutes of play.
The inspiration was short lived, as Wake Forest would regain composure. Using their fitness and team dynamics the visitors would eat up possession and control the clock in the dying minutes of the game. Senior Jack Ziimmerman would put a final stamp on the score board after finding a gap in the opposition backline and touched down under the sticks. McMurray would add one final conversion bringing the final score to 31-12.
Later that day, the team cheered on the USA Eagles to their World Cup Qualifying victory over Uruguay with a 32-13 victory. It was an amazing experience for the young Demon Deacons as they had the rare opportunity to see a live international rugby match very early in their playing careers.
The team made a safe trip back to Winston Salem and is now preparing for the Intramural Flag Rugby Tournament next Sunday.