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Wake Forest earns Gator Bowl victory, beating Rutgers
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Wake Forest earns Gator Bowl victory, beating Rutgers

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The Deacons end their season with an 11-3 record

After 75 years, Wake Forest is a Gator Bowl winner again.

The Demon Deacons (11-3) finished 2021 with a 38-10 victory on Friday against Rutgers, tying a school record for victories in a season. A second-half surge from the Wake Forest defense allowed a two-score margin to hold and thrive. The Deacons, No. 17 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, started the second half with an interception, then forced a punt and a turnover on downs.

Wake Forest Rutgers Gator Bowl

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman celebrates as head coach Dave Clawson raises the championship trophy after the Deacons’ 38-10 win over Rutgers in the Gator Bowl, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. More from the game, Page C1.

The response was stellar for a unit that struggled early, allowing Rutgers to convert four of seven third-down attempts and hold a five-minute margin in the time of possession. 

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Wake Forest won the inaugural Gator Bowl in 1946, beating South Carolina, 26-14. The Deacons claimed their first bowl win since 2018, which came in the Birmingham Bowl. They've gone to bowl games for six consecutive seasons. 

Wake Forest Rutgers Gator Bowl

Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson is doused in Gatorade after the Deacons’ 38-10 win over Rutgers in the Gator Bowl on Friday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

Sam Hartman, the Deacons' starting quarterback, helped Wake Forest score on their first two drives, connecting with tight end Brandon Chapman and wide receiver A.T. Perry for touchdowns of 4 and 29 yards. He finished with 304 passing yards and three total touchdowns. Chapman, a team captain, had two touchdowns catches in his final game. 

Wake Forest Rutgers Gator Bowl

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman gets protection from his offensive line as he throws in the first half of the Gator Bowl, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

Perry had 10 caches for 127 yards and his scoring play, giving him his 15th touchdown of the season and extending his own program record for touchdown receptions. 

Wake Forest Rutgers Gator Bowl

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman gets protection from his offensive line as he throws in the first half of the Gator Bowl, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

Rutgers, which replaced Texas A&M in the bowl after the Aggies pulled out because of a COVID-19 outbreak, scored on its first two drives but never did so again. The Scarlet Knights finish 5-8. 

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@ByEthanJoyce

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