WINSTON-SALEM — The pylon was in sight for Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman as he cut through the defense on the way for a score in his return from a shoulder injury.
That’s when the quarterback extended his arms to each side, ball in his left hand, as he crossed the goal line in a fleeting celebration that marked the start of the 23rd-ranked Demon Deacons’ 44-10 victory over NC State on Saturday.
“If Jamie could go, he was going to go,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “And Jamie could go. So he went.”
Newman threw for three touchdowns and ran for two scores, showing no signs of trouble from the injury that had sidelined him for one game and part of another. His status was uncertain — at least according to Clawson’s public comments — ahead of the long-running in-state series, though his performance was anything but.
Newman threw for 287 yards and ran for 30 more before checking out late in the third quarter. Clawson said he encouraged the 6-foot-4, 230-pound redshirt junior with a physical running style to slide or step out of bounds to avoid taking extra hits in his return.
Not that Newman sounded worried.
“I felt great, felt great all week,” Newman said, “and I still feel great now.”
That helps explain why Newman and the Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) had this one wrapped up early. By the end, the school said, the 34-point margin was its largest ever against an ACC opponent at its BB&T Field home since September 1968.
Newman scored twice on first-quarter keepers, starting with the arms-extended 20-yarder. He also had the first of his three TD throws to Jack Freudenthal in the first quarter, with Wake Forest scoring touchdowns on its first three drives and taking a 24-0 lead early in the second.
NC State (4-4, 1-3) never had an answer, with its defense unable to stop the Demon Deacons and its offense unable to sustain drives with first-time starting quarterback Devin Leary.
Leary had two interceptions, both to Amari Henderson, while Keyon Lesane’s fumbled kickoff return deep in Wolfpack territory set up Freudenthal’s first TD grab.
“That was a bad situation for us to have to be in on defense obviously,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “The whole first quarter didn’t go our way. We didn’t get off the field on third down. Field position was pretty critical in this football game on the road, and we didn’t have any.”
NC State: It was another miserable every-other-year trip west to Winston-Salem, where NC State has won once since 2001. It came following an open date that allowed Leary to get plenty of first-team practice reps to prepare as the Wolfpack’s third starting QB this season in an attempt to regroup for a November push. Worse, the injury-riddled Wolfpack lost starting running back Zonovan Knight in the first half; he got an X-ray for an undisclosed injury.
“We’ve just got to get better,” Doeren said. “I mean, I can’t even look at the score right now. … We’ve got 10 penalties, we’ve got three turnovers. There’s a lot to fix.”
Wake Forest: The open week bought time for Newman to get healthy for the only team still with a chance to interrupt fourth-ranked Clemson’s march to yet another ACC Atlantic Division title. The Demon Deacons were 0-7 under Clawson when emerging from an open week, but now they’ve beaten the Wolfpack for a third straight year.
The margin was impressive enough to potentially give the Demon Deacons a boost in the AP Top 25 poll, as was seeing Newman back at the helm of the offense.
Leary, a redshirt freshman, completed 17 of 45 passes (37.8) for 149 yards and a second-quarter touchdown for NC State. But he completed just 3 of 19 passes for 40 yards after halftime, including 0 for 8 in the fourth.
“Obviously, there are some things that we wish that we could have done better,” Leary said. “We wish that we could have got back (in the game) but at this point, we just have to control the controllables.”
Another Big Game
Freudenthal had the winning 32-yard TD catch from Newman with 30 seconds left in November’s 27-23 road win against a ranked NC State team. This time he had four catches for 16 yards with scores of 5, 2 and 4 yards.
“My name got called, and it worked out and everything was awesome,” Freudenthal said. “The looks were perfect for what we were running, so that helped.”
NC State: Reigning national champion Clemson visits the Wolfpack next Saturday night.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons visit Virginia Tech next Saturday.