Scores

Final

Vanderbilt 10

(6-6, 4-4 SEC)

Wake Forest 23

(7-5, 4-4 ACC)

Coverage: ESPNU

7:00 PM ET, November 29, 2008

BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC

1 2 3 4 T
VAN 3 0 0 710
WAKE 3 7 7 623

Top Performers

Passing: R. Skinner (WAKE) - 173 YDS

Rushing: B. Pendergrass (WAKE) - 10 CAR, 45 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Boldin (WAKE) - 8 REC, 73 YDS

Wake boosts bowl prospects with Vandy triumph

Associated Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Alphonso Smith's record-tying 20th career interception set up Rich Belton's game-clinching touchdown run, and Wake Forest beat Vanderbilt 23-10 on Saturday to boost its bowl prospects.

Brandon Pendergrass and Kevin Harris also had rushing touchdowns for the Demon Deacons (7-5), who closed the regular season with a victory that should give them a school-record three consecutive bowl trips.

Redshirt freshman Larry Smith made his college debut in the second half for Vanderbilt (6-6), throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Barden on fourth down on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut Wake's lead to 17-10.

But Smith, throwing from his own end zone, was intercepted by Alphonso Smith with 4:14 left. Playing in his final home game, Smith tied former North Carolina cornerback Dre' Bly's Atlantic Coast Conference career interception record.

Belton's 4-yard run two plays later sent the Commodores to their sixth loss in seven games after a 5-0 start.

Chip Vaughn had an interception and recovered a fumble as the Demon Deacons held the Commodores to 249 yards.

A persistent rain, wind and a temperature dipping into the upper 30s led to a half-filled stadium and plenty of sloppiness in a game involving two teams that came in mired in late-season slumps.

And while Vanderbilt is guaranteed its first bowl appearance since 1982 despite its second straight loss, Wake Forest entered the night in a much more precarious position.

Wins earlier in the day by Clemson (7-5) and North Carolina State (6-6) gave the Atlantic Coast Conference 10 bowl-eligible teams for nine guaranteed slots.

Wake's two-game losing streak coming in and small fan base were causes for concern, underscored by the lack of bowl representatives at BB&T Field.

A Chick-fil-A Bowl rep was watching, but he was eyeing Vanderbilt as the possible Southeastern Conference team in the Atlanta bowl. Like the ACC, that league's bowl situation was in flux after losses by LSU, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the final weekend. The Liberty Bowl is another place the Commodores could land.

Harris' 8-yard touchdown run in a driving rain midway through the third quarter made it 17-3. Pendergrass' 6-yard scamper, capping a 98-yard drive early in the second quarter, put Wake Forest ahead to stay in a game Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson tinkered with his struggling offense.

Johnson went back to Chris Nickson as the starting quarterback after Mackenzie Adams' struggles a week earlier in the loss to Tennessee.

Only Adams came in after Nickson was banged up on the fourth offensive play. Nickson returned in the second quarter when Adams injured his right shoulder on a combined sack by Matt Robinson and Boo Robinson.

After the pair combined to complete only 5 of 18 passes in the first half, with Adams adding an interception, Johnson turned to Smith after halftime.

Smith completed 9 of 17 passes for 46 yards and was sacked twice.

Riley Skinner was 13 of 20 for 173 yards for Wake Forest.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
VAN
WAKE
1st Downs1616
Total Yards249331
Passing133173
Rushing116158
Penalties6-293-45
3rd Down Conversions4-176-14
4th Down Conversions2-30-0
Turnovers32
Possession28:1731:43

Passing Leaders

VanderbiltC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Adams3/10717.101
Wake ForestC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Skinner13/201738.700

Rushing Leaders

VanderbiltCARYDSAVGTDLG
Graham7334.7015
Reeves6335.5013
Wake ForestCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pendergrass10454.5121
Harris7365.1112

Receiving Leaders

VanderbiltRECYDSAVGTDLG
Moore26030.0054
Walker4348.5012
Wake ForestRECYDSAVGTDLG
Boldin8739.1025
Adams23417.0030

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERVANWAKE
FG07:40Bryant Hahnfeldt 33 Yd 30
FG01:52Sam Swank 42 Yd 33
SECOND QUARTERVANWAKE
TD10:39Brandon Pendergrass 6 Yd Run (Sam Swank Kick) 310
THIRD QUARTERVANWAKE
TD07:02Kevin Harris 8 Yd Run (Sam Swank Kick) 317
FOURTH QUARTERVANWAKE
TD14:55Brandon Barden 5 Yd Pass From Larry Smith (Bryant Hahnfeldt Kick) 1017
TD03:12Rich Belton 4 Yd Run (Pat Failed) 1023