Deacs Crush Vandy in Regular Season Finale

Alphonso Smith

Wake Forest didn't just spoil Vanderbilt's hopes of a bowl game. It crushed them.

Alphonso Smith had two interceptions to lead a Wake Forest defense that forced five turnovers and beat Vanderbilt 31-17 on Saturday, shattering any chance the Commodores had to make their first bowl game in 25 years.

Smith's two interceptions gave him eight for the year, making him Wake Forest's single-season interception leader. The previous record of seven was set by A.J. Green in 1987.

Josh Adams added 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Demon Deacons (8-4) to seal an eight-win season for only the fifth time in school history. Wake Forest also ended its four-game losing streak against the Commodores.

For Vanderbilt (5-7), another season that began with high expectations ended with the same result: bitter disappointment. The Commodores needed only one victory in its final four games to be bowl eligible for the first time since going to the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl.

The Commodores allowed a season-high five turnovers against Wake Forest, and fans in the 39,773-seat Vanderbilt stadium - not even filled to half its capacity - continually showered the home team with boos.

MacKenzi Adams managed just 64 yards passing with two fumbles and two interceptions. He was replaced by third-string quarterback Richard Kovalcheck, who threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns against Wake Forest's backups.

The Demon Deacons, who played in last season's Orange Bowl after winning the ACC, already had earned back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in school history.

They just improved their resume.

Kevin Marion returned the opening kick of the second half 81 yards fore Wake, setting up an 8-yard touchdown catch by De'Angelo Bryant that blew the game open 21-3.

It would get worse.

MacKenzi Adams fumbled for the second time in the game to give Wake Forest a short field yet again. Josh Adams ran for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Demon Deacons ahead 28-3 just two minutes into the half.

Any chance of a Vanderbilt comeback - or at least something to cheer for on Senior Day - were silenced after the Commodores failed to score on four consecutive plays at the goal line. Most of the meager crowd filed out, and Vanderbilt's chance at bowl eligibility looked as dark as cloudy Nashville.

A late 28-yard touchdown catch by Earl Bennett made it 31-10, but most fans already had left. Bennett's six catches gave him 75 for the season, and the SEC career receptions leader became the first receiver in league history with three consecutive seasons with at least 75 catches.

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