Winston-Salem, NC -DeAndre Martin's two-yard touchdown plunge gave with 13:24 remaining in the game to put Wake Forest on top for the first time and for good as it hung on to defeat Liberty 20-17 in the season opener.
"We were very fortunate to win tonight," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. "I thought Liberty had a very good plan for us, that they were really well-coached, that they had some good players, and that we were very fortunate to come out with the win tonight."
"DeAndre was playing good. He was running the ball physically and aggressively."
Orville Reynolds, who was expected to see time at running back against the Flames, only played as a kick returner. Grobe said he probably should have played him at running back, but stuck with Martin.
"We were getting some pressure from those guys, and Orville's not a very big guy, and there were several times where Josh when he was in the game and then DeAndre had to pick up some pretty big guys blitzing."
Grobe added that he and his staff are not disappointed with Reynolds at all.
Martin was forced to carry the rushing load after Josh Harris was knocked out of the game with a mild concussion just under the five-minute-mark of the first quarter. The redshirt freshman from Hialeah, Fla. ran 21 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, and caught two passes for 13 yards in his collegiate debut.
"That [replacing Harris] was unexpected, and it kind of hit me at first, but I got in there and I guess put the team on my back," Martin said.
Harris was not the only Demon Deacon to suffer a bite from the injury bug. Late in the second quarter Michael Campanaro re-aggravated an ankle sprain he sustained in pre-season practice. He returned to action in the third quarter before fellow receiver Sherman Ragland went down with compound dislocation of his pinky finger. Ragland did not return, putting more pressure on Campanaro to produce.
Campanaro finished with nine receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown.
"I kind of just kept pushing on it, loosening it up, and I think some of the medicine I took at halftime kind of kicked in," Campanaro said. "It takes a little while for that to kick in, but there were some things going on out there on the offensive side of the ball that being a leader of the team on offense I kind of felt responsible for, so I went over to the trainer and said, 'Can we take some of this wrap off, and can I try to give it another go?'"
"[I] just kept working with it, kept running on it, kept pushing it, and I asked him, 'What's the worst that can happen?' He said it's just going to hurt, and I went over to Coach [Lonnie] Galloway, and I asked if I could give it a go and he was all for it, so I was excited."
The redshirt junior from Baltimore added X-rays for his ankle came back negative, but he was wearing a protective boot.
Outside of Martin and Campanaro Wake struggled offensively, sputtering early. The Deacs did not record a first down until their fourth possession when Tanner Price connected on a 10-yard pass to Martin. Liberty held Wake scoreless till 7:15 left in the second quarter when Price hit Campanaro on a 31-yard scoring strike.
Price passed for 16-28 for 195 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted once.
"I didn't play very well," Price said. "I had a lot of misthrows I'd like to have back, but we'll take the win."
Wake Forest needed another shot in the arm after Liberty reclaimed the lead at 14-7 at the 10:51 mark when Brian Hudson completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to SirChauncey Holloway.
A.J. Marshall gave Wake the shot it needed when he intercepted Hudson and ran it back 39 yards for a touchdown that Jimmy Newman followed with the game-tying extra point.
"Well I saw the quarterback sprint out, which we expected, because they had four to a side, and Coach just really prepared us," Marshall said. "We played a certain technique that Coach told us to prepare, and I felt number two beside me, so I just jumped the route and made a play."
"He [Hudson] really stared down the receiver in that situation. I just took a chance, and God blessed me to make that play."