Turnovers Galore: Louisville Defense Destroys Wake Forest

Louisville forces eight Wake Forest turnovers
Timothy D. Easley – Associated Press

Coming into Week 9, one of the most anticipated ACC matchups came between the No. 10 Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Louisville Cardinals. This should have been a game dominated by Wake Forest who has done almost everything right this season, but Louisville came to play. In the end, the Cardinals walked away with a 48-21 victory behind eight Wake Forest turnovers.

This game went into halftime with Wake Forest up 14-13. Across the second quarter, it appeared that Wake Forest caught every break possible. The second half began and it all turned around for Lousiville. Let’s take a look at all of the turnovers and how they impacted the game.

Tons of Turnovers

Third Quarter

Wake Forest started the second half with the ball looking to add to their lead. After just 47 seconds into the half, QB Sam Hartman threw an interception that was returned 46 yards by Kei’Trel Clark for a game-changing pick-six.

In the first half Wake Forest was down 13-0 so trailing 20-14 was not much of an issue. However, it becomes an issue when mistakes pile up.

On the very next drive following the pick-six, the Demon Deacons were moving the ball well. On the fifth play of the drive, Hartman fumbled the ball right back to Louisville. Luckily for Wake Forest, their defense got a stop on 4th & 1 to get it back without any further damage.

Their third drive of the half looked much better. On the seventh play, they were already down at the 24-yard line looking to get into the red zone. To the dismay of Wake Forest, the Cardinals’ defense got to Hartman and forced yet another fumble. This time Louisville could not be held down as a five-play drive was topped off with a 52-yard TD run.

Now down 27-14 it was time for Wake Forest’s offense to get it figured out. On the fifth play of the drive, Hartman threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Monty Montgomery. This was a very unique return because as Montgomery returned the ball he then pitched it to teammate Josh Minkins who took it all the way to the nine-yard line. One play later Louisville was in the endzone.

The Demon Deacons got a great return on the kickoff which put them at the 36-yard line, only an 11-yard difference from a fair catch, but still important. Unfortunately, their decent field position did not matter as Hartman was once again swarmed and fumbled it to Louisville. Just two plays later the Cardinals scored another TD to make it a 41-14 lead.

This marked their fifth straight turnover after just 11:14 went by in the third quarter. The streak finally came to an end when they just had to punt after a three and out and in return, the Wake Forest defense forced a punt.

With 1:35 left in the third quarter, all Wake Forest had to do was end the quarter without another turnover. They ran one final play to end the quarter which was on 4th & 3 at the 17-yard line. That play resulted in Hartman throwing an interception which Quincy Riley returned 90-yards for another pick-six. This absurd quarter came to a close exactly the way it started.

Over those 15 minutes, Louisville forced six turnovers and scored on five for 35 points.

Fourth Quarter

The Demon Deacons got the ball to start the fourth quarter. They used up almost five minutes to only get 22 yards and then fumbled it over to the Cardinals on a 4th & 15. This was one of those rare times when Louisville did not score following a turnover.

The next few minutes turned out to be very unique. Wake Forest went 55-yards and got the ball all the way down to the 14-yard line. On a 4th & 6 the Demon Deacons’ backup QB Mitch Griffis threw an interception to Riley for his second of the day. On the return, Riley fumbled the ball back to Wake Forest. Three plays later Wake Forest got a TD in the final seconds.

Stats and Rarities

As the dust settled the results of the madness totaled up to eight total turnovers: four interceptions and four fumbles.

Throughout the first eight weeks Louisville forced 16 turnovers, they had half that in this game. They are now plus 11 in turnover margin.

Wake Forest only had five turnovers through their first seven games. They had a plus-seven turnover margin coming into this game and now they are at an even zero.

Surprisingly it has not been too long since a team committed eight turnovers. Last weekend the Duke Blue Devils forced eight turnovers from the Miami Hurricanes in a 45-21 victory.

This is only the second time in the last 15 years that a team had eight turnovers in a half.

Additionally, this was the first time a team scored 35 in a quarter against an AP Top-10 team since No. 5 Oklahoma did it to No. 2 Texas Tech on Nov. 22, 2018.

Wrap Up

This was an absolute disaster for one of the best offenses in the country. Wake Forest was completely overwhelmed by the Louisville defense which ultimately was the difference. It is not very often defenses force this many turnovers and Louisville did an incredible job of taking advantage. This completely kills any hope of Wake Forest making the playoffs or even getting close to the ACC championship game. Louisville looks to become bowl-eligible next week against James Madison. Wake Forest looks to bounce back on the road against No. 24 NC State.

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