for this game

Swank boots Wake Forest past Ole Miss

Sep 7, 2008 - 1:34 AM WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Sam Swank helped Wake Forest and the Atlantic Coast Conference avoid another letdown against an upset-minded team from the Southeastern Conference.

Swank calmly drilled a 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining Saturday, lifting the 20th-ranked Demon Deacons to a wild 30-28 victory over Mississippi.

Riley Skinner passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns for Wake Forest (2-0), which won for the 10th time in its last 13 home openers. The Demon Deacons improved to 68-37-2 all-time in home openers.

"It was really a sense of determination, not a sense of panic," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. "This win gives them a little bit of confidence. ... We certainly needed this."

The day nearly ended in disappointment for Wake Forest, which faced a 28-27 deficit following Jevan Snead's 5-yard touchdown pass to Cordera Eason with 1:01 remaining.

"I think the last drive where Ole Miss scored took a lot out of the crowd," Skinner said. "It was a big shot to the team's energy. We knew as an offense we could take the ball down in a minute thirty in field goal."

A loss for Wake Forest would have been a poor reflection on the ACC, which was embarrassed last weekend when Clemson - the preseason league favorite - was throttled by Alabama, 34-10, in a nationally televised game.

However, the Demon Deacons had a cool customer in Skinner, who completed five passes in a 36-second span on the game's final drive to push Wake Forest to the Ole Miss 23-yard line.

That set the stage for Swank, who leads all active kickers with 65 career field goals. The senior had room to spare on his booming kick from the far right hash mark that made it 30-28 with three seconds left.

"I was doing what I know how to do," Swank said. "I wasn't going to try to do something out of the ordinary. I was really focused to do what I've been doing for four and a half years for this program."

Swank's last-minute heroics spoiled a brilliant day for Snead, who threw a career-high four touchdowns and led the Rebels (1-1) to the verge of another upset for the SEC.

But Snead was matched by Skinner, who completed 32-of-43 passes and extended his school record with 20 wins as a starting quarterback. Skinner's favorite target was D.J. Boldin, who finished with 11 receptions for 123 yards.

A transfer from Texas, Snead completed 20-of-31 passes for 253 yards for Ole Miss, which has lost 14 of its last 15 road games.

"I was really proud of our team," Rebels coach Houston Nutt said. "I thought they fought and hung in there. I'm disappointed in the gifts that we gave them (Wake Forest). We gave them some gifts."

Wake Forest trailed throughout the second quarter and took its first lead of the second half on Skinner's 24-yard TD pass to Marsh Williams with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Ole Miss went ahead, 21-20, on Snead's 31-yard scoring strike to Dexter McCluster just 49 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But Wake Forest reclaimed the lead on Brandon Pendergrass' 12-yard run with 11:37 remaining. The redshirt freshman's scoring run capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive.

"If the home-opening crowd wanted a good game, they got it," Grobe said. "I think the guys did a good job of entertaining them."