Abbate, Wake Forest outlast North CarolinaOct 28, 2006 - 11:14 PM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- With one unofficial title wrapped up, Jon Abbate, Kenneth Moore and Wake Forest can start to set their sights on the Atlantic Coast Conference crown.
Abbate made a huge defensive play, Moore scored a pair of touchdowns and the 24th-ranked Demon Deacons completed their first sweep of in-state ACC rivals since 1987 with a 24-17 victory over North Carolina.
The Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1 ACC Atlantic) are off to their third 7-1 start in program history and first since 1979. Wake finished 8-4 that year but has a chance to improve on that mark thanks to linebacker Abbate.
The late heroics were nothing new to the Demon Deacons, who blocked a late field goal to preserve a one-point victory over Duke and need a late interception to clinch a two-point win over North Carolina State.
"I told the kids that we find some pretty neat ways to win football games," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "This is one of the first teams I have been on that you don't have much of an idea each Saturday how you're going to do it."
North Carolina (1-7, 0-5 Coastal) still hasn't defeated a Division I-A team this season but played an inspired game for outgoing coach John Bunting.
On Sunday, the school announced that Bunting will not be back next season. A North Carolina alumnus, Bunting is in his sixth season in Chapel Hill and has posted a 25-43 record.
"We were close in a lot of different ways but close is not good enough," Bunting said. "Obviously there were a lot of things going on that tear at you a little bit in terms of your preparation, but I thought the players did a terrific job and the coaches did a terrific job through the week."
It looked as if the Tar Heels would have a shot to pull one last upset for Bunting, driving deep into Demon Deacon territory in the closing seconds. But like a great number of games in Chapel Hill recently, things ended badly for North Carolina.
Trailing, 24-17, with four minutes to play, North Carolina took over at its own 20. The Tar Heels drove to the Wake 5 with 25 seconds to play but Joe Dailey threw a pass into traffic in the end zone that Abbate stepped in front of to seal the win.
"A lack of execution - put the blame on me rather than anyone else," Dailey said. "We were in the game the entire time and once again mistakes hurt us."
Moore scored on a 34-yard run in the second quarter to give Wake Forest a 14-7 lead. He hauled in a 39-yard TD pass from Riley Skinner with 12:08 to play for what proved to be the game-winning score.
Long a laughingstock, Wake Forest now controls its own destiny in the ACC. At 3-1, the Demon Deacons are tied for the division lead with Boston College and they host the Eagles next week.
Wake Forest opened the scoring when Alphonso Smith blocked a punt and returned it 16 yards just over three minutes into the game.
North Carolina tied the game with 5:09 left in the first quarter on a one-yard TD pass from Dailey to Andre Barbour. A redshirt freshman, Barbour was moved from tackle to tight end this week and the TD catch was his first career reception.
Ronnie McGill rushed for 117 yards on 29 carries for the Tar Heels. He had 100 of his yards, including a one-yard TD run, in the first half.
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