WEST POINT, N.Y. – Sam Hartman threw for a career-high 458 yards and five touchdowns in a big-play display and ran for another score, and No. 16 Wake Forest defeated Army with a 70-56 victory on Saturday to remain unbeaten.
Army (4-3), which lost its third straight, had not defeated a ranked opponent since a 17-14 victory over Air Force in 1972, but the Black Knights made Wake Forest (7-0) earn it.
Hartman was unstoppable and rarely pressured, completing 23 of 29 passes and hitting touchdown passes of 41, 54 and two of 75 yards as he matched the Michie Stadium record for scoring passes. Army never led, and a costly interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter gave the Demon Deacons the breathing room they needed.
Two touchdown passes by Army’s Jabari Laws, a 21-yarder to Isaiah Alston late in the third, and a 25-yarder to Tyrell Robinson midway through the fourth, kept it a one-possession game until Hartman scored on an 8-yard run with 6:57 left
Army rushed for 416 yards and finished with 595 yards offensively as the teams combined for 1,233 yards in a game that featured just one punt.
It was a one-possession game until the third quarter after Army knotted the score at 28-all on Jakobi Buchanan‘s 1-yard touchdown run.
Hartman came right back quickly, hitting Jaquarii Roberson over the middle for a 75-yard score.
The Black Knights then drove deep into Wake Forest on the ensuing possession and tried some trickery on a fourth-and-5. It backfired big-time when quarterback Cade Ballard, in his first play of the season, lined up as the holder and his pass into the left flat was intercepted by Traveon Redd, who returned it 83 yards for a touchdown and a 42-28 lead.
But the big plays just kept coming.
Anthony Adkins raced 71 yards for an Army score and Hartman responded with a 75-yard strike to Ke’Shawn Williams.
Army matched the Demon Deacons on the scoreboard in the first half until Christian Beal-Smith scored on a 13-yard run up the gut of the Army defense with 35 seconds left in the second quarter to give Wake Forest a 28-21 halftime lead.
Hartman guided the Demon Deacons to two quick scores in the first quarter. The second was keyed by two big plays. Pinned at his own 3, Hartman hit A.T. Perry for 50 yards down the middle and three plays later connected with Roberson for a 41-yard score and a 14-7 lead.
After Buchanan’s 3-yard scoring run knotted the score at 14-all early in the second quarter, Hartman connected on a 54-yard scoring pass to Perry, who was free and clear after Army defender Cam Jones fell.
Army, which used three quarterbacks in the first half, tied it at 21-21 on Tyhier Tyler‘s 24-yard run up the middle with 3:17 left in the second. Army had failed on a fourth-and-2 play, but after a video review by the officiating crew, Wake Forest was penalized for having too many players and Tyler took advantage.
Playing a ranked team at Michie Stadium for the first time this century, Army entered the game with the fewest penalties in the nation (21) and committed three on Wake Forest’s first possession, which ended with Christian Turner‘s 3-yard TD run.
Hartman broke the Michie Stadium record for passing yards set in 2014 by Buffalo’s Joe Licata, who threw for 401 yards in Jeff Monken‘s first game as Army coach. The Black Knights won that one, 47-39.
Wake Forest: With Hartman at the controls, the Demon Deacons are a force, but the defense didn’t measure up against Army and they face a huge test in November in the race for the Atlantic Division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference with consecutive games at North Carolina, home against NC State and at Clemson.
Army: The Black Knights have demonstrated that they can play with the best programs in the country. They rushed for a season high in rushing and threw for three touchdowns, a good sign going forward.
Wake Forest returns to ACC action to host Duke next Saturday.
Army has a break before it faces a Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy matchup against service academy rival Air Force on Nov. 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. It’s the first neutral-site game in the series since 1965 at Soldier Field in Chicago.