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Settling in red zone proves costly for Deacons

October 2, 2017 GMT

For the first time in five games, Wake Forest didn’t score on a trip inside the opponent’s 25-yard line.

As every play gets magnified after a close loss, that was one of the costly aspects of Saturday’s 26-19 defeat to Florida State.

But costlier were two trips on which the Deacons did score.

The Deacons’ first score was a 24-yard field goal by Mike Weaver that came after a fumble recovery gave them the ball at Florida State’s 26-yard line. A 16-yard pass put the Deacons at the 10, but a holding penalty made it first-and-goal from the 20. Wake Forest’s next possession started at Florida State’s 30, the cause of a 10-yard punt. The Deacons failed to convert a third-and-2 and settled for a 39-yarder from Weaver.

In the first four games, 18 drives advanced to or started in the red zone. Ten of them resulted in touchdowns.

“When we got down there, you know, I thought we were moving it all night. Here and there, and then when you get down in the red zone, you’ve got to put up touchdowns,” quarterback John Wolford said after Saturday’s game. “So, we’ve been great in red zone scoring, we haven’t been great in red zone touchdowns.

“That’s something we’ve got to work on, we’ve gotta find extra ways to get it … four extra points, the both times we kicked the field goals, the game’s over.”

Being 22 of 23 in red zone scoring puts the Deacons at 14th in the country, behind 12 teams that have scored on every red zone and Ohio, which is 26 of 27. But Wake Forest has kicked more red zone field goals than any team in the top 30 of red zone scoring percentage.

In simpler terms, Wake Forest has to capitalize on chances, especially given its upcoming schedule. This weekend’s trip to Clemson looks as daunting as ever after the Tigers blew out Virginia Tech on Saturday night.

“We played hard, I don’t know if we executed as clean as we needed to to beat a team of that caliber,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We can’t hang our head that long because we have a big one next week against a very good football team.”