Wolford throws 4 TD passes, Wake Forest tops Texas A&M 55-52

By  | 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - John Wolford threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, and Matt Colburn ran for 150 yards and the go-ahead score in Wake Forest's 55-52 victory over Texas A&M on Friday in the Belk Bowl.

The teams combined for 1,260 yards and 107 points, making it one of the highest-scoring games in bowl history.

Wolford, a four-year starter and the game's Most Valuable Player, threw all four TD passes in the first half for Wake Forest (8-5). Colburn had a 1-yard touchdown with 2:18 left in the game to give the Demon Deacons the lead.

Wake Forest stopped the Aggies on downs on their final drive to seal the win, which was no easy task given Texas A&M's potent offense. Texas A&M's Nick Starkel threw for a Belk Bowl-record 499 yards and four touchdowns - three of those to wide receiver Christian Kirk, who caught 13 passes for 189 yards.

Scotty Washington had nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown for the Demon Deacons, while tight end Cam Serigne had nine catches for 112 yards and a score. Tabari Hines had eight receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

Wake Forest spotted Texas A&M (7-6) a 14-point first quarter lead following a pair of special teams miscues, but rattled off 31 straight points in a span of 11 minutes, 16 seconds to take a 31-14 lead.

But Texas A&M battled back to take the lead late in the third quarter.

The Aggies turned two blocked punts in the game's first five minutes into a 14-0 lead.

DeShawn Capers-Smith smothered Wake Forest's first punt attempt and Charles Oliver recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. On Wake Forest's next possession, Roshauud Paul partially blocked a punt that advanced just 19 yards. Starkel then completed a 42-yard strike to Kirk to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Trayveon Williams.

But Wake Forest bounced right back as Wolford completed TD passes of 50 yards to an open Washington along the left sideline and 7-yarder to Harris on a slant route to tie the game midway through the first quarter. The second score came after Texas A&M ran into the kicker on a missed field goal attempt, giving the Demon Deacons an automatic first down.


Texas A&M: You would have to think Kirk will think strongly about heading to the NFL after a terrific bowl game. It's hard to believe he could do much more to impress the NFL scouts after an unbelievable performance.

Wake Forest: The most difficult task next offseason will be replacing Wolford, a four-year starter and the clearly the leader of the team.


Texas A&M: The Jimbo Fisher officially begins as the Aggies usher in a new era after six seasons under Kevin Sumlin.

Wake Forest: The future is looking bright for the Demon Deacons after their second bowl win in as many years under coach Dave Clawson.


Texas A&M fell to 7-6 on the season with the loss in the 2017 Belk Bowl.

• 2017 is Texas A&M’s eighth straight season with a winning record.

• The Aggies erased a 17-point deficit early in the second quarter to take the lead late in the third quarter but couldn’t hold the lead.

• It was Texas A&M’s 39th bowl game in program history and marks the Aggies’ ninth straight season with a bowl trip, which is a school record.


Junior WR Christian Kirk enjoyed perhaps the finest game of his career with 13 catches for 189 yards and the first three TD catch game of his career.

• Kirk’s three receiving scores matched the Texas A&M bowl record originally set by Travis Labhart in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Duke.

• Kirk’s 13 catches for 189 yards were career highs, as well as Texas A&M bowl records. (old bowl records were 12 and 177 by Josh Reynolds)

• Kirk’s big game pushed his career TD catches to 26 which moved him into sole possession of No. 3 on the career receiving TDs list behind Jeff Fuller (34) and Josh Reynolds (30). He passed Ryan Swope with his second TD snare of the game.

• Kirk also moved past Jeff Fuller into No. 2 on the career receptions list with 234 catches.

• Kirk improved his season TD catch total to 10, as he became the fifth Aggie to hit double-digits in season receiving TDs.

• Kirk raised his career bowl TD catches to four and his career catches to 29, which were both school bowl records.


Freshman QB Nick Starkel became the first Aggie to surpass the 400-yard barrier in passing yards in a bowl game with 499 vs. WF.

• Starkel’s career day broke the old bowl record of 382 by Johnny Manziel in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Duke. Starkel is the 5th Aggie to record multiple 400 yard passing games in program history and the third to do it in the same season.

• Starkel’s final passing stats were: 42-of-63 attempts for 499 yards, four TDs and one interception. Starkel set Texas A&M freshman records for attempts, completions and passing yards and matched the single-game touchdown record.

• Starkel’s 499 yards through the air is the second most passing yards for a Texas A&M quarterback in program history, trailing only Kenny Hill’s 511 passing yards against South Carolina on August 28, 2014.

• Starkel’s 42 completions set an A&M bowl record and marked the first time an Aggie connected on over 40 passes since since Hill connected on 42 passes against Ole Miss on Oct. 11, 2014. The 42 completions ranks second on the all-time single game list in program history, trailing only Hill’s career-best 44 passes against South Carolina.

• Starkel’s 63 attemps were the third most by an Aggie in program history, trailing 64 attempts by Ryan Tannehill against Oklahoma in 2011 and Branndon Stewart against Colorado in 1996.

• Starkel connected on five “chunk” passes of 20-plus yards, including two over 40 yards. Starkel’s 52-yard TD pass to Christian Kirk marked his sixth straight game (every game since returning from injury) with at least one 45-yard pass play.


Texas A&M blocked a trio of kicks against WF -- two punt blocks and one FG block.

• With the three blocks, the Aggies moved into national lead for combined punt and kick blocks with eight (five punt blocks, three placekick blocks.

• With the two punt blocks today, the Aggies matched one of the oldest school records with five punt blocks in season originally set by Homer Norton’s 1941 team.

• The Aggies opened the game’s scoring when junior Deshawn Capers-Smith blocked a punt that was fumbled and bumbled and eventually recovered for a touchdowns by sophomore Charles Oliver. It was the first time Texas A&M had recovered a punt block for a touchdown since Jaxson Appel scored on one-yard recovery vs. SMU in 2005.

• Texas A&M blocked back-to-back punts when freshman WR Roshaaud Paul got a piece of a Demon Deacon punt.

• Later in the second quarter, freshman DT Jayden Peevy batted down a Wake field goal attempt.

kirk statistical update

• Junior WR Christian Kirk moved into second on the Texas A&M career receptions list with the 13 grabs today pushing his total to 234 receptions, passing Jeff Fuller’s 233 grabs from 2008-11. Kirk trails only Ryan Swope on the all-time list (252 catches, 2009-12).

• Kirk’s career mark of 2,856 yards through the air ranks third on the Texas A&M career list, trailing Swope (3,117; 2009-12) and Jeff Fuller (3,092; 2008-11).

• Kirk’s 26 receiving touchdowns ranks third on the A&M career list, trailing only Fuller (34; 2008-11) and Josh Reynolds (30; 2014-16).

• Kirk moved into third on the all-time all-purpose yardage list with his 219 all-purpose yards against Wake Forest. Kirk trails Cyrus Gray (6,423; 2008-11) and Darrren Lewis (5,138; 1987-90).

AUSBON matches

freshman record

• Freshman Jhamon Ausbon’s 12 catches matched a freshman record for catches in a game, set by Ryan Tannehill against Kansas State on Oct. 11, 2008.

• Ausbon set career-highs in both receptions (12) and receiving yards (112) against Wake Forest.

• Ausbon completed his freshman campaign with 51 receptions and 571 yards through the air. He joined Christian Kirk, Mike Evans and Jeff Fuller as the only true freshmen to post at least 50 catches and 500 yards.

• Ausbon’s 571 receiving yards ranks 7th on Texas A&M freshman’s all-time list, while his 51 catches rank 4th on A&M’s all-time freshman reception list.


• Junior kicker Daniel LaCamera’s nine points on the day pushed him into 15th on Texas A&M’s career scoring list at 212 points, passing Christine Michael’s 210 points from 2009-12.

• LaCamera registered his second straight 100 point season, marking the 7th 100 point season for a Texas A&M kicker in program history.

• Freshman safety Derrick Tucker led the Aggies in tackles with 12 despite only playing the second half, Tucker was forced to sit out the first half of the game due to a targeting penalty in the second half against LSU.

• Sophomore Tyrel Dodson record eight tackles on the day, pushing his season total over the century mark at 105 stops on the season.


• Game captains for the Aggies were Cullen Gillaspia, Christian Kirk, Trayveon Williams, Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson. Texas A&M won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff.

• The Aggies’ 12th Man representative was junior LB Cullen Gillaspia (Katy, Texas) in his 26th straight start.

• Weather for the 12 noon kickoff was 41 degrees with the wind from the west at three miles per hour