WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The lead was about to slip away from Wake Forest when Demetrius Kemp took the ball away from No. 25 North Carolina State.
Kemp forced a fumble inches from the goal line in the final minutes and recovered it to preserve the Demon Deacons’ 30-24 victory over N.C. State on Saturday night.
“That was just a pure hustle play,” Kemp said. “I saw the quarterback throw the ball and just burst to the ball. That’s what we preach every day in practice — just burst to the ball and just hustling.”
John Wolford threw three touchdowns to Tabari Hines, including the go-ahead score from 18 yards out with 8:03 left. Wolford finished 19 of 28 for 247 yards for the Demon Deacons (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). They have won three of four and earned their first regular-season victory over a Top 25 opponent since 2011.
“We made one more play at the end,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.
Wolford hit Hines for scores covering 21 and 4 yards before they connected for the go-ahead TD, with Hines pulling in the pass while outstretched in the back corner of the end zone. B.J. Hill blocked the ensuing extra-point attempt for N.C. State to keep it a six-point game.
Ryan Finley drove the Wolfpack (7-4, 5-2) inside the Wake Forest 20 in the final minutes and hit Emeka Emezie inside the 5. Emezie made a move on Ja’Sir Taylor but was hit by Kemp and fumbled inside the 1. The ball squirted into the end zone and Kemp recovered it with 1:51 remaining for a touchback. The call stood after a brief review by the replay official.
“He was broken-hearted, as you’d expect him to be,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “Feel for him. That’s obviously not intentional. He didn’t have good ball security. You could see him swinging it as he was going in. Got to learn from it. Just too bad it was that play, because it was the play that (would have) put us up by one.”
N.C. State got the ball back with 41 seconds left but Finley’s deep throw to Harmon in the end zone was intercepted by Essang Bassey with a second left.
Finley finished 34 of 52 for 327 yards with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Emezie. Jaylen Samuels ran 11 yards for a score and…