The Wisconsin Badgers (4-3) cooled down a feverish start by the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-5), to win the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, 42-28, on Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.
Touted as one of the more fast-paced offenses in college football, the Demon Deacons lived up to the billing early on against Wisconsin, scoring quickly on back-to-back drives to start the game.
The Demon Deacons amassed a total of 136 yards on 15 plays over their two opening drives, both of which ended in Sam Hartman touchdown passes to Jaquarii Roberson. Their scoring drives lasted 3:39 and 1:59, respectively.
The speedy pace to start the game was aided by the Demon Deacon’s going 4-for-4 on third down and Hartman going 6-for-7 for 124 yards. However, following the score, Wake Forest’s offense struggled to move the ball, while Wisconsin’s offense was just getting started. Wisconsin scored twice in the second quarter, with rushing scores from both FB John Chenal and QB Graham Mertz.
Hartman and Roberson connected once more on the Demon Deacon’s opening drive of the second half, as Wake Forest appeared to be replicating its fast start from the first half, going 50 yards in only 1:51 of game clock, capped off by an eight-yard Roberson diving catch in the end zone.
However, following the Roberson score, Wisconsin got a shot in the arm by way of freshman Devin Chandler, the Huntersville, N.C. native, who returned the ensuing kick 59 yards, well into Wake Forest territory.
Wisconsin turned the short field into a 33-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Mertz rushing touchdown, his second of the game, tying the game at 21.
Following the tie, the Wisconsin defense took over, intercepting Hartman on four consecutive drives, setting up three Wisconsin scores – a Mason Stokke 14-yard touchdown reception from Mertz, a Groshek rushing touchdown and a Jalen Berger rushing touchdown, giving Wisconsin an insurmountable lead.
The Wisconsin defense also bookended the four interceptions with forcing two turnovers on downs.
Wake Forest would later add a touchdown with six seconds remaining in the game, on a Christian Beal-Smith, one-yard touchdown run.