Birmingham Bowl: Wake Forest wins on missed field goal by Memphis

Wake Forest’s Sage Surratt (14) celebrates with teammates after catching a 9-yard touchdown against the Memphis Tigers in the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field on Dec. 22.
(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Jamie Newman ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left to cap a big performance and Wake Forest’s comeback in a 37-34 victory over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday.

The Demon Deacons (7-6) then had to wait to celebrate until Riley Patterson’s 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right as time expired.

Both teams scored touchdowns over the final 1:15. Memphis (8-6) lost a big lead for the second straight game after jumping ahead by 18 points in the first half.


Game MVP Newman ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth to lead Wake Forest, throwing for 328 yards and rushing 23 times for 91 more.

He led the Demon Deacons on a 75-yard drive starting at the 1:15 mark, covering most of it with completions of 49 and 20 yards to Alex Bachman.

The second catch was reviewed and the spot was upheld at the 1-yard line after Bachman’s right arm hit the pylon. Newman kept the ball for the go-ahead score.

Memphis swiftly moved into position to at least tie the game. Brady White found an open Joey Magnifico on the right sideline for a 44-yard gain, with the tight end battling for extra yards down to the 17.

The Tigers went backward after that, including a false start penalty after Patterson lined up to attempt a game-tying kick.

In their last outing, they had led by 17 points against No. 7 UCF in the American Athletic Conference championship game, only to lose 58-41.


Subbing for All-America running back Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor Jr. had given Memphis the lead with a 9-yard touchdown to cap a 14-play, 88-yard drive.

Tony Pollard scored on a 97-yard kickoff return to tie the NCAA career mark with seven.


Memphis: Lost its fourth straight bowl game and second straight big lead. Ran for 207 yards without Henderson, who skipped the game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Wake Forest: Newman made the most of his fourth career start since replacing an injured Sam Hartman. Outgained Memphis 529-378 in total yards.


Pollard matched the career mark shared by Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, Houston’s Tyron Carrier and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny. Memphis fans responded with chants of “Tony!” at Legion Field.


It was Pollard’s first kick return for a score this season, with teams kicking to him only 21 times before the bowl game. He returned four the distance in 2017 and did it twice as a redshirt freshman in 2016.


Wake Forest returns both Newman and the freshman Hartman, the starting quarterback until a season-ending leg injury. Dortch is a third-year sophomore, but three offensive line starters are seniors. The defense is poised to only lose three starters.

Memphis gets back both Taylor and Pollard, along with White, but the defense loses six starters for a team seeking its sixth straight bowl bid.