Suiting up in pink socks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, players were amped to put on a good show for the larger than usual crowd, but from the opening whistle, it was clear that the contest would be an outright brutal experience for both sides.
Given their considerable size advantage over the young Deacon squad, NC State tried to strong-arm the game’s tempo throughout the initial 20 minutes, but the first points of the match still went to Wake Forest with a penalty kick from senior Jack Zimmerman.
Maintaining possession and keeping play very tight, NC State made small but consistent gains and scored two penalty kicks before strong pressure from the Demon Deacon defense forced a Wolfpack handling error.
Wake Forest capitalized on the resulting turnover and shifted the game’s momentum with some quick thinking and big runs. Highlights included an interception by senior Bryce Lambert and a strong line break from freshman Austin Cunningham, but impatient play near the try zone allowed NC State to regain possession and kick away from Wake Forest’s pressure each time.
In the 86-degree heat, both sides were happy to hear the halftime whistle and leave the game on hold at 6-3.
NC State scored a third penalty kick at the start of the second half, but quickly found themselves with their backs against the wall as the Demon Deacons were awarded a lineout just 5 meters away from their scoring try line.
Senior scrumhalf Jack Zimmerman was able to clean up the mishandled lineout throw, slip a few tackles and set up a ruck just inches from the try line. With support close behind and the defense on the back foot, freshman Tim Peterson retrieved the ball from the base of the ruck and drove through a defender to score the first try of the game. The missed conversion put the score at 8-9 in favor of the visitors.
The next 20 minutes resembled the beginning of the match, with possession being kept very close and the forwards seeing most of the action. The Demon Deacons were able to force errors and pressure the Wolfpack deep into their own territory, but were consistently stopped short by handling errors and penalties.
With just under 15 minutes on the clock and the heat weighing heavily on both sides, the visitors sliced through a disconnected Deacon defense on two occasions, extending their lead to 8-19.
In the closing minutes of the contest, some well-placed kicks kept Wake Forest within scoring distance, but the home side was never able to convert the opportunities into points.
With 3 games remaining in the ACRL Fall XVs season, the Demon Deacons head to Blacksburg, VA on Friday, Oct. 11th to make up an earlier rainout against Virginia Tech.