WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Mitch Griffis threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, and Christian Turner and Taylor Morin added spectacular individual efforts in the scores, helping No. 22 Wake Forest beat VMI 44 -10 on Thursday night in the first match for both teams.
Griffis started with veteran Sam Hartman sidelined indefinitely with a non-football-related medical issue. Hartman, who guided the Demon Deacons to last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, stood on the sidelines in his black jersey, black shorts and a black cap to watch his alternate lead an easy win against an opponent. from Championship Subdivision.
Griffis’ first TD throw was a perfect ball as he moved to his right, with Morin diving just inside the right end zone sideline for the 23-yard touchdown and a 17-0 first-quarter lead. .
Turner had preceded him with his own standout TD. He seemed headed for a modest gain when he was staggered by a hit from Aljareek Malry in a crowd near midfield. But Turner extended his left hand to the turf to stay on his feet, then bounded free down the left side for a 35-yard touchdown run.
Both scores held after repeat reviews.
Turner rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the game to lead the Demon Deacons, who had 506 total yards but also had seven penalties for 70 yards.
VMI, from the Southern Conference, sought its first victory against a nationally ranked opponent from the ranks of the Bowl Subdivision. Their only offensive highlight was Grant Swinehart taking a pass from backup QB Collin Ironside and running down the right side for a 34-yard touchdown, though that came with Wake Forest winning 30-3 late in the third.
THE TO GO
IMV: Led by eighth-year coach Scott Wachenheim, the Keydets are coming off their first consecutive winning seasons since 1961-62. They were trying to get their first season-opening road win since 2002. They finished with 222 total yards, never making it to the red zone, and couldn’t stop the run.
Wake Forest: The offense moved well without Hartman, though this wasn’t a clean performance. In particular, there were three holding penalties during two second-quarter drives, two for forcing a punt and one for disallowing an easy touchdown and forcing Wake Forest to settle for a field goal. There was another to deny Griffis’ two-point keeper late in the third, which irritated ninth-year coach Dave Clawson so much that he kicked the turf in frustration, even with a big lead.
Wake Forest is unlikely to move much in the upcoming AP Top 25 after facing little drama in beating an FCS foe.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
IMV: The Keydets host Bucknell in their home opener next Saturday.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have an away game against a power conference opponent, visiting Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference next Saturday.