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Ricky Dobbs leads Navy to last-second win over Wake Forest

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Still stinging from a tough loss to a fierce rival, Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs slipped into a salt bath the night before facing Wake Forest, closed his eyes and envisioned a late-game drive where everything went right.

He was a realist, though, since this is run-dominated Navy.

"I didn't think it was going to be a touchdown pass," Dobbs said. "I thought it was going to be a run straight up the middle by a fullback or something."

Not quite. The running QB came up with the big play with his arm, tossing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jones with 26 seconds left to give the Midshipmen a dramatic 28-27 win over Wake Forest on Saturday night.

By the looks of the wide smile on his face, he had also taken his mother's advice after she saw him struggle in the loss to Air Force.

"She told me it doesn't look like I'm having fun out there," said Dobbs, who accounted for four touchdowns and recorded the 40th rushing TD of his career. "She told me to just relax, release and let go. That's what the whole team needed, offensively."

It produced another nightmare for the Demon Deacons. Freshman Tanner Price threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score for Wake Forest (2-4), which lost its fourth straight and it's second heartbreaker in a row.

The Demon Deacons were beaten by Georgia Tech a week ago on a touchdown with 15 seconds left.

"There comes a point when they get tired of watching the other team celebrate after the game," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "When that point comes, we'll start winning games."

Dobbs, who had been knocked out of the game briefly when he aggravated an existing ankle injury after taking a sack on the previous drive, found an open Gee Gee Greene for a 34-yard gain to the Wake Forest 15 with just over a minute left.

Then on third down he hit Jones in the right corner of the end zone after a fake pitch.

"The ball did seem to stay in the air for quite a while," Jones said, smiling. "You see the ball and your eyes get big. You just want to make sure you catch the ball and you stay inbounds. The game is on the line like that."

Joe Buckley kicked the tiebreaking extra point and Navy (3-2) avoided a second straight loss.

Dobbs rushed for 22 times for 100 yards and two scores. He also completed 8 of 19 passes for 94 yards and two more TDs.

"He took a lot of heat, but we understand it's part of the profession," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said of Dobbs, criticized after completing 6 of 18 against Air Force.

The Demon Deacons appeared to be in control when Dobbs returned from the sideline on third-and-11 from the Wake 43 with just over 3 minutes left and had two passes knocked down by Kyle Wilber and Alex Frye.

But Wake Forest quickly punted and the short kick gave Navy an opportunity.

After Navy's TD, Michael Campanaro took back the kickoff 47 yards to Wake 49. Josh Adams dropped a pass along the sideline that could have put Wake Forest at the edge of field goal range before time expired.

It spoiled an excellent effort by Price, who returned after missing a game with a concussion. Seeing the field well, using his feet to avoid sacks and using a slew of swing passes, Price turned in a performance not seen since four-year starter Riley Skinner's departure after last season left Wake Forest's QB situation in flux.

Wearing Skinner's old No. 11, Price set true freshman records for completions, attempts and yards receiving, completing 37 of 53 passes.

He gave Wake Forest a 24-21 lead on a swing pass to Devon Brown, who ran 12 yards for a TD with 1:08 left in the third quarter. When Jimmy Newman kicked a 31-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, it looked like he'd get the win.

"It's tough losing two games back to back that close," Price said. "You've just got to stay positive."

Navy, already without starting safety Emmett Merchant (concussion), lost starting fullback Vince Murray (sprained knee) in the first quarter as it completed a three-game trip that covered more than 6,000 miles with an improbable win.

"We've got to get better," Niumatalolo said, "but I couldn't be more proud of our guys bouncing back."