ACC Football: Florida State 41, Wake Forest 28
WINSTON-SALEM ó The 80-year-old embattled coach was sitting in a golf cart and upbeat moments after his redshirt freshman quarterback kept their bowl hopes alive.
Not far away, the opposing team’s redshirt senior quarterback was overcome with emotion.
A good day for Bobby Bowden, EJ Manuel and Florida State meant a tearful final home game and bowl elimination for Riley Skinner and Wake Forest Saturday, with the Seminoles’ 41-28 victory perhaps marking a change in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s quarterback hierarchy.
Manuel, the highly touted recruit out of Virginia Beach, Va., threw for a touchdown and ran for another in his first career start. Jermaine Thomas helped out by rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown as the Seminoles (5-5, 3-4) moved closer to extending their nation-best 27-year bowl streak.
With his future uncertain, Bowden had to enjoy watching Manuel fill in capably for the injured Christian Ponder ó and hear Seminoles fans chant Bowden’s name in the closing minutes.
“Manuel passed the test,” Bowden said. “You still never know the answer until they get into a contest. I thought from the first play on, he showed a lot of poise.”
Manuel completed 15 of 20 passes for 220 yards and an interception, outplaying Skinner as the Demon Deacons (4-7, 2-5) fell behind 31-7 in the second quarter. Wake’s fifth straight loss ending a school-record streak of three straight bowl games.
The good times at Wake began in Skinner’s freshman year. And after struggling with his accuracy and throwing two interceptions, Skinner put his face in his hands and started crying after the game.
“It’s just crazy to think about,” Skinner said, eyes red and sniffling. “It’s been 41/2 years and I never thought it would come to an end like this.”
Wake Forest got within 31-21 early in the third quarter on Kevin Harris’ 12-yard touchdown run from the wildcat formation. But the Demon Deacons got no closer as they struggled to contain the run game.
Thomas became Florida State’s first back since 2002 to go over 100 yards three straight games.