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Skinner, defense lead Wake Forest past Elon 35-7
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Riley Skinner threw for a career-high 289 yards and three touchdowns, and Wake Forest tuned up for its conference schedule by beating Elon 35-7 on Saturday night.
Not that they needed it, but even the officials helped the Demon Deacons (2-1) in the first meeting in 70 years between the neighboring schools.
Skinner's 54-yard touchdown pass to Chris Givens late in the second quarter came after back judge Tommy Pace inadvertently tripped Elon cornerback Karlos Sullivan near the goal line.
The blooper made it 21-0, and Skinner was through for the night after throwing an 80-yard touchdown to Marshall Williams late in the third quarter.
Never threatened against the Phoenix (2-1) — a Football Championship Subdivision program — the Demon Deacons won their second straight. Wake Forest plays at Boston College in ACC opener next week.
Terrell Hudgins caught 13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown for Elon.
Building off its comeback win over Stanford a week earlier, Wake Forest held Elon to 68 yards rushing and dominated special teams.
Gelo Orange's third career blocked kick — on Scott Riddle's punt — led to Josh Adams' 1-yard TD early in the second half for a 28-0 lead. Coach Jim Grobe — who used true freshman Jimmy Newman on extra points ahead of struggling Shane Popham — soon began substituting freely.
The crowd watching the schools separated by 50 miles included former Wake Forest basketball star and NBA player Rodney Rogers.
Paralyzed after a dirt bike accident late last year, the wheelchair-bound Rogers was given a standing ovation before the game. The 2000 NBA Sixth Man Award winner was mobbed by the Wake Forest players as they ran onto the field before kickoff.
Skinner soon led Wake Forest on two long scoring drives. His 5-yard pass to Jordan Williams made it 7-0 and the Demon Deacons doubled their lead before the quarter was over on Mike Rinfrette's 1-yard plunge.
The most bizarre TD came at the end of the half, when the back judge couldn't get out of way of way. After knocking down Sullivan, Pace got up and signaled touchdown.
Sullivan got up and was incredulous, palms pointed to the air. But officials are considered part of the field and Elon's coaches could do nothing.
Riddle, Elon's decorated quarterback, struggled to find time to throw. He was 24 of 43 for 195 yards and was pressured all game by the Boo Robinson-led defensive line.
Elon, which came in ranked No. 11 in the FCS polls, had beaten Davidson and Presbyterian by a combined 97-7.
Wake Forest, however, proved to be too strong and fast for the Phoenix, whose 28-13 loss to South Florida in 2007 was its only other game against a Bowl Subdivision school since they moved to Division I a decade ago.