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ACC CHAMPIONSHIP

Wake Forest takes it higher

December 03, 2006|From the Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — Wake Forest's defensive players huddled near the sideline, pushing and shoving, yelling and screaming, jumping and dancing.

They were trailing Georgia Tech by three points and ready to do something about it. Riley Swanson did.

Swanson intercepted a pass from Reggie Ball on the next play, sparking a comeback that gave Wake Forest its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 36 years and sent the Demon Deacons to their most significant bowl game in school history.

Riley Skinner followed Swanson's interception with long completions on consecutive drives, setting up Sam Swank's final two field goals that gave No. 16 Wake Forest (11-2) a 9-6 win over 23rd-ranked Georgia Tech (9-4) on a rainy Saturday.

"When you get our backs against the wall, these kids respond," Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe said.

Skinner, who grew up in Jacksonville, finished 14 for 25 for 201 yards in his homecoming -- and may have had the biggest cheering section in the half-empty stadium. He struggled most of the game and was sacked four times, but he came through when the Demon Deacons needed it most.

He hooked up with John Tereshinski for a 39-yard gain on third and 10, setting up Swank's second field goal, a 33-yarder with 8:27 to play. The kick tied the score at 6-6.

On the next possession, Skinner found Willie Idlette down the middle for a 45-yard gain, setting up a 22-yarder that turned out to be the game-winner.

The Demon Deacons won their second league title and first since 1970. The season finale comes in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2.

"I can't even put it in words," linebacker Jon Abbate said.

Georgia Tech will return to Jacksonville in four weeks to play in the Gator Bowl.

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