WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Wake Forest’s offense had two shining moments in Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe — early in the first quarter, and in the final two minutes with the game on the line.
It was the Demon Deacons’ performance the rest of the game that had head coach Jim Grobe concerned after their 21-19 loss to the Warhawks.
Tanner Price threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns — both going to Orville Reynolds — and engineered a late scoring drive that managed to pull Wake Forest (1-2) within two points. But the Demon Deacons generated little else, with two other drives leading to field goals of 28 and 38 yards from Chad Hedlund in the first half.
“It has a lot to do not with what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it,” Grobe said. “We’re a very lethargic offensive football team right now. We have no sense of urgency. This is nobody’s fault but the head coach, when your offense plays like they’re asleep at the wheel.
“The way we’re playing right now offensively and the lack of intensity, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We’re just a very lethargic, sloppy offensive team. We’ve got to turn the volume up, and that’s my responsibility.”
Kolton Browning threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, completing a career-best 43 of 68 attempts (with two interceptions) as Louisiana-Monroe (2-1) won for the first time in three tries over a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Obviously, we’re excited about the win,” said Berry, in his fourth season as the Warhawks’ head coach. “But there were so many mistakes, and that’s not like us. It’s not what we do. So part of me is happy, but part of me is disappointed because we can be so much better than what we are.”
Louisiana-Monroe had its third straight 400-yard game on offense, piling up 424 total yards and 26 first downs against a struggling Wake Forest (1-2), which has now lost two straight games and five of its last six, dating back to the 2012 season.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” Demon Deacons nose guard Nikita Whitlock said. “I believe this game was a must-win. As a defense, our goal was to keep them to 21 and under (points). We were told that if we keep them to 21 and under, we were going to win, so we did that.
“I really believe we were the better team, but they played better. That’s how it goes.”
Reynolds finished with a career-best 101 receiving yards, with scoring catches of 65 yards in the first quarter, and a 23-yarder with four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that put Wake Forest in position to tie the game.
On the two-point conversion, Price threw low to Michael Campanaro, but the ball hit him in the chest and bounced away, ending the Demon Deacons’ comeback hopes.
“I told Tanner to come to me, and he did,” said Campanaro, who had 16 receptions — tying an ACC record — for 177 yards. “I just dropped it. It was a tough play, and I have to be better than that.”
However, Wake Forest’s offense did little else: only 15 rushing yards and 15 first downs, five of those coming in the second half.
“It’s just tough out there for the offense to get things going,” Price said. “The defense bailed us out all day. We were just a little too late with that last drive.”
Browning threw two TD passes — a 1-yarder to Harley Scioneaux and a 5-yarder to Kenzee Jackson — in the first half to stake the Warhawks to a 14-13 lead, then hit Tavarese Maye on a 9-yard score in the second half.
However, Louisiana-Monroe blew two other second-half scoring opportunities. A bad snap thwarted a 26-yard field goal attempt by Justin Manton in the third quarter, and he bounced a 24-yard attempt off the left upright in the fourth quarter.
“We started out hot on offense, but in the third quarter we kind of stalled out,” Browning said. “We’d get some kind of penalty or miss an assignment, things like that that would ultimately kill a drive. We left a lot of points out there — not just the two field goals, but some more touchdowns.
“We played a great game overall. We did some of the things that we wanted to do. A win’s always good, but there’s some things that we can fix.”