By land or by sea, Nick Sciba can make field goals. And Wake Forest is bowl eligible because of the latter.
Sciba made a 25-yard field goal in the pouring rain — his fifth of the game, after kicking four in dry conditions in the first half — to squeeze Wake Forest past Florida State 22-20 on Saturday night at BB&T Field.
Sciba, the sophomore kicker, tied a program record with five field goals in a game and extended his program record to 23 straight made field goals. He hasn’t missed since the fourth game of last season — the same game that he infamously forgot to take the field for a field goal attempt against Notre Dame.
Wake Forest (6-1, 2-1 ACC) didn’t have a touchdown until the second play of the fourth quarter, when Cade Carney surged in from 3 yards out. It came out of the wildcat formation — Wild Cade, if you will — and put the Deacons up 19-14 and alleviated some frustrations of being inside the 10-yard line four times in the first half and settling for four field goals.
The lead was short-lived. Florida State (3-4, 2-3) marched 75 yards in eight plays, scoring on a 36-yard pass from James Blackman to Tamorrion Terry in the end zone. Florida State failed on the 2-point conversion attempt, so its lead was 20-19.
Wake Forest notched the game-deciding points on a drive in which Carney converted a third-and-10 with a 13-yard run and featured a 15-yard catch by Scotty Washington on the next play.
The game wasn’t sealed until the Florida State quarterback James Blackman bobbled two snaps on the final two plays of the game.
Quarterback Sam Hartman passed for 308 yards in relief of Jamie Newman, who wasn’t in pads after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Louisville.
Finishing drives — or failing to — was the crux of the issue for the Deacons in the first half. Wake Forest’s first three drives all pierced Florida State’s 10-yard line, and all ended with short field goals by Nick Sciba.
Another one in the second quarter stalled again, leading to Sciba’s fourth — and longest — field goal of the game, from 27 yards.
Short-yardage situations have been an issue for the Deacons since the season-opening game, but this was particularly painful. The first three drives saw Wake Forest gain 196 yards and come away with nine points for it.
Rain from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Nestor reached Winston-Salem about two minutes into halftime. It coincided in the worst way with Wake Forest’s running game misfiring — the Deacons had 67 yards on 26 rushes in the first half — so while the rain fell for the entirety of the second half, the Deacons went to a pass-heavy attack.
Wake Forest scored on four possessions in the first half, Florida State scored on two. The Seminoles held a 14-12 lead because while the Deacons stalled inside the 10-yard line four times, while Cam Akers scored on a 2-yard run and a 19-yard catch-and-run.
Florida State had another drive reach Wake Forest’s 23-yard line before James Blackman was intercepted by Chase Monroe — the sophomore linebacker’s first career interception.
Wake Forest lost Justin Strnad for the game early in the third quarter with a right shoulder or arm injury. He had seven tackles, giving him 69 this season.
Newman went through preliminary warm-ups about two hours before the game, but when the Deacons came back out for their final warm-ups, he emerged in a jersey and sweatpants. The redshirt junior suffered a left shoulder injury last week against Louisville and played after the initial injury, but Coach Dave Clawson said he was “day-to-day” early in the week.