Sage Surratt

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Biletnikoff Award whittles hunt for nation’s top receiver down to 12


The Biletnikoff Award on Monday announced its list of 12 semifinalists for the 2019 award. The award specifies that any player who catches a pass is eligible to win — not just wideouts — but only wideouts have won the award through its 25-year history.

And for what has to be the first time in Biletnikoff history, both LSU and Alabama have two semifinalists, including 2018 winner Jerry Jeudy.

The semifinalists are:

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota: 44 catches for 945 yards (21.5 yards per) and seven touchdowns
Omar Bayless, Arkansas State: 73 catches for 1,262 yards (17.3 yards per) and 14 touchdowns
Ja'Marr Chase, LSU: 57 catches for 1,116 yards (19.6 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty: 64 catches for 1,244 yards (19.4 yards per) and eight touchdowns
Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State: 73 catches for 1,021 yards (14 yards per) and 13 touchdowns
Justin Jefferson, LSU: 71 catches for 1,010 yards (14.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama: 64 catches for 867 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma: 44 catches for 983 yards (22.3 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Michael Pittman, Jr., USC: 82 catches for 1,118 yards (13.6 yards per) and nine touchdowns
James Proche, SMU: 88 catches for 1,008 yards (11.5 yards per) and 12 touchdowns
Devonta Smith, Alabama: 56 catches for 1,026 yards (18.3 yards per) and 11 touchdowns
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest: 66 catches for 1,001 yards (15.2 yards per) and 11 touchdowns

The notable snub here is Devin Duvernay of Texas, who is one off the lead for catches (87) but could not crack the voters’ top 12. (Full disclosure: I am a Biletnikoff voter and had Duvernay on my semifinalist list.)

The 12 semifinalists will be chopped down to three next Monday, with the winner announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12.

Wake Forest loses ACC’s leader in receiving yards, touchdowns to season-ending injury

Wake Forest Sage Surratt
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Wake Forest lost much more than a football game this past Saturday.

In the fourth quarter of the Week 11 loss to Virginia Tech that, along with Clemson’s win later that night, cost Wake any shot at the ACC Atlantic championship, Sage Surratt went down with some type of upper-body injury and didn’t return.  Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, head coach Dave Clawson confirmed that the redshirt sophomore wide receiver will miss the remainder of the 2019 season because of the injury, which he again declined to specify.

Clawson added that Surratt will undergo surgery to repair the unspecified damage.

Surratt’s 1,001 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns are the most of any player in the ACC, and are good for fifth and tied for fifth, respectively, at the FBS level.  His 66 receptions are second only to Pitt’s Maurice Ffrench‘s 75 in the conference.

In addition to this Saturday’s game against No. 5 Clemson, Surratt will miss regular-season games against Duke and Syracuse as well as whichever bowl at which Wake lands.

No. 23 Wake Forest improves to 7-1 for first time since 2007

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For the first time in over a decade, No. 24 Wake Forest is 7-1. And if all goes as they hope, Wake Forest could be returning to a New Years Six bowl game for the first time since that 2007 season.

Wake Forest (7-1, 3-1 ACC) had no problem taking care of NC State (4-4, 1-3 ACC) on Saturday afternoon. The Demon Deacons jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and went on to polish off a 44-10 victory by shutting out the Wolfpack in the second half. Jamie Newman had a big day with 287 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. Jack Freudenthal was on the receiving end of all three touchdown passes, and Kendall Hinton led all players with 97 receiving yards while Sage Surratt caught a game-high nine passes. The Wake Forest passing offense averaged seven yards per attempt, which was more than double the average of a woeful NC State passing attack. Devin Leary managed to complete just 17 of his 45 pass attempts for 149 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions on the day.

NC State had three turnovers in the game and Wake Forest capitalize don them. Wake Forest scored 17 points off those turnovers, including an early fumble on a kickoff return to setup a quick touchdown after already owning a 7-0 lead.

Now with wins against NC State and UNC (in a non-conference matchup), Wake Forest has a chance to sweep the in-state competition just as they did in 2007. All that is left to pull off is a win at home against Duke on Nov. 23. But for now, Wake Forest has other business to attend to. A road trip to Virginia Tech is up next for Dave Clawson and his program next week. A trip to Blacksburg can never be taken lightly, especially with Virginia Tech potentially getting better as the season progresses. After that is a big division showdown at Clemson. Regardless of what happens against Clemson, Wake Forest is beginning to look like a team that could be representing the ACC in the New Years Six bowl.

the last time Wake Forest played in a big bowl game was after winning the ACC championship in 2007. Winning the ACC this year would require getting around Clemson, which may prove to be difficult in a few weeks, but it is becoming more and more clear that Wake Forest is the second-best team in the ACC.

NC State may not be thinking about an elusive conference championship, but the Wolfpack still have a chance to go bowling. But next week will be no easier for the Wolfpack. NC State visits Clemson next week for a primetime matchup.

Wake Forest takes ACC reunion over North Carolina

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Wake Forest started fast, then hung on for dear life to score a 24-18 win over North Carolina on Friday night, an important win over an ACC opponent for the Deacons as they prepare for their conference schedule, in the ACC.

If that doesn’t make sense, it shouldn’t. These Tar Heel State neighbors and ACC bunk mates, who played on an annual basis from 1919 through 2004, scheduled a non-conference series for tonight and 2021 in Chapel Hill to circumvent a bloated ACC schedule that saw them play just twice between 2015 and 2024 and only six times in the 20 seasons between 2005 and ’24.

As for the actual game, it started slow for both squads and even slower for UNC.

After seven punts to open the game, North Carolina (2-1, 0-0 ACC) saw its first successful offensive play of the game — a 17-yard Javonte Williams run — end in disaster, as he fumbled it away at his own 20, setting up a 2-play touchdown drive for the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest (3-0, 0-0 ACC) didn’t need UNC’s help adding to the lead. The Deacons went 78 yards in five plays to push the lead to 14-0 to open the second quarter on Deacons quarterback Jamie Newman‘s second rushing touchdown, then increased the margin to 21 points through a 5-play, 85-yard march punctuated by a 51-yard bomb from Newman to Sage Surratt.

The lead could have been 28-0 or 24-0 at the half but, facing a 4th-and-1 from the UNC 6 with 5:56 left in the first half, Dave Clawson elected to go for it and paid the price when Kenneth Walker III was stuffed for no gain.

North Carolina finally got off the mat midway through the third quarter, converting its first third down on its 12th try, but its 56-yard march was halted when Sam Howell, who threw for 15 yards in the first half and was temporarily pulled for back up Jace Ruder in the second quarter, took a third down sack and the Tar Heels were forced to settle for a 49-yard Noah Ruggles boot.

Howell, pulled for a drive in the second quarter, dusted off that drive-killing sack and started to heat up for the Heels, finding Dyami Brown for 55 yards, taking the ball from the UNC 33 to the Wake 14. An 11-yard swing pass to Michael Carter put North Carolina in the end zone for the first time of the game at the 9:21 mark of the fourth quarter and put UNC officially on the comeback trail for the third time in as many games.

Needing a drive for the first time in the second half, a dormant Wake Forest offense could not deliver; the Deacons got an 11-yard run from Walker on the first snap, but then went three-and-out after. After the punt, a red-hot UNC offense needed only five plays to go 80 yards, most of them coming on a 50-yard Carter run. Howell, by this point fully channeling the fourth quarter energy he used to lead comebacks over South Carolina and Miami, fired a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brown, then hit tight end Garrett Walston for a 2-point conversion to pull the Tar Heels within 21-18 with 6:09 remaining.

Now desperately needing offense, this time Wake got it. Newman and running back Christian Beal-Smith carried the offense down the field for a 12-play, 61-yard drive that culminated in a 34-yard Nick Sciba field goal and killed all but the final 69 seconds.

North Carolina started its potential game-winning drive with a 10-yard completion to the sideline, but then the fourth quarter magic ran out for the Tar Heels. Out of timeouts after trying to stop Wake Forest’s previous drive, Howell used 30 seconds on a 6-yard run to the UNC 42 then, with the clock running, threw a 3-yard completion to himself on a deflected pass that saw him tackled in bounds and short of the sticks with the clock running at 15 seconds and, crucially, with the sticks showing 4th-and-1. Unable to spike it, Howell handed off to Carter, who failed to get out of bounds before the clock expired, ending the game.

The win is Wake Forest’s first over the Tar Heels since 2012, but its third straight over UNC in Winston-Salem.

Wake Forest smothering North Carolina through one half

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At the half in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest holds a 21-0 lead over North Carolina.

Jamie Newman has dominated the game, completing 10-of-17 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown while rushing 10 times for 48 yards and two scores.

After seven punts to open the game, North Carolina saw its first successful offensive play of the game — a 17-yard Javonte Williams run that he then fumbled away at his own 20, setting up a 2-play touchdown drive for the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest didn’t need UNC’s help adding to the lead. The Deacons went 78 yards in five plays to push the lead to 14-0, then increased the margin to 21 points through a 5-play, 85-yard march punctuated by a 51-yard bomb from Newman to Sage Surratt.

Sage is playing opposite his older brother, Chazz Surratt, who started his career as a North Carolina quarterback and now plays linebacker for the Heels.

North Carolina might need Surratt to switch positions again in the second half. Sam Howell and Jace Ruder have combined to throw for just 22 yards, while UNC’s ground game has been out-rushed 134-49.

Overall, Wake Forest leads in total yards 305-71 and in first downs 14-2.