Leave it to the coach's son to make the play of the game in Wake Forest's 23-3 victory over Arizona State today in the 18th annual Aloha Bowl.
Playing before a crowd of fewer than 10,000, the Demon Deacons broke open a close game late in the third quarter on a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Sankey to wide receiver Jim Caldwell, the son of Coach James Caldwell.
Holding a 6-3 lead, Sankey moved under center on a third-down play, then stepped back and called an audible when he noticed the Sun Devils were going to blitz.
The Aloha Bowl MVP took a three-step drop and hit Caldwell, who split the coverage on a quick slant route and raced untouched down the middle of the field for the touchdown to give Wake Forest a 13-3 lead.
"It was an automatic at the line of scrimmage," Coach Caldwell said. Sankey "looked at the pass coverage and made a nice read. My son made a nice catch. It was a big play for us. . . .
"He has been a member of our team for quite some time, so it was nice for him to come up with the big catch. To be honest with you, the defense won this game for us. We knew Arizona State wanted to run and we were able to control that throughout the game."
Ten Arizona State players, including three starters--quarterback John Leonard, defensive tackle Jawell Samilton and safety Alfred Williams--played sparingly because of food poisoning.
The Sun Devils (6-6) managed only 164 total yards, and Wake Forest (7-5) gained 350 yards. Sankey, who ran for 56 yards on 15 carries, completed 13 of 22 passes for 188 yards.
"This was a huge win for our program," Sankey said. "We knew our defense would set the tempo for the game. All we had to do was execute our running game to set up the pass.
"On the touchdown pass to Jim, we saw right away that we had a chance to exploit their coverage on a quick pass. I checked off to Jim, who ran the perfect route. That was the turning point."
Wake Forest had several chances to build a big lead, only to settle for field goals. A partially blocked punt by Marvin Chalmers gave Wake Forest the ball at the ASU 35 on the second series of the second half.
But much like on its first scoring drive, Wake Forest drove inside the 10, but had to settle for Matthew Burdick's field goal after Chalmers dropped a ball in the end zone on third and goal from the 7. Burdick's 24-yarder made it 6-3 about six minutes into the third quarter.
The Demon Deacons put the game away in the fourth quarter on a scoring drive set up off a short punt. Wake Forest went 51 yards on nine running plays, with Morgan Kane scoring over the top from one yard to make it 20-3 with 11 minutes 11 seconds left.
"We came in here knowing we had to control the ball on the ground to win and that's what we did," said Kane, who led the Deacons with 83 yards. "I think we wanted it more than they did. And it showed."
An ASU fumble at the Wake Forest 46 led to Burdick's third field goal of the afternoon. The Deacons drove to the Sun Devils 36 on a mix of option and passing. Burdick's 43-yard field goal with 5:38 left made it 23-3. His three field goals tied an Aloha Bowl record.
"Give them a lot of credit for playing just the kind of game they wanted to," Sun Devils Coach Bruce Snyder said. "Their defense was big and strong, very physical. They took us out of the game by not allowing us to make any plays."