The Birmingham Bowl apparently had no issues rebranding into the BirmingHAM Bowl in 2018.
An absolutely bonkers final few minutes saw the lead change three times before Wake Forest survived a missed field goal as time expired to win 37-34 and triumph in the postseason for the third straight year.
The Demon Deacons ran off 20 consecutive points over the final three quarters at one point and improbably put together a six-play, 75 yard touchdown drive in the final 75 seconds that proved to be the game-winning points.
Making just his fourth career start, Wake quarterback Jamie Newman showed why he’s a true dual-threat under center by leading his team in both passing and rushing. The redshirt sophomore finished his first bowl game by throwing for 328 yards and a touchdown (one pick) while also rushing 23 times for 91 yards and a trio of scores as well. He also distributed the ball quite effectively in finding nine different receivers in the game — no small feat considering the team’s best player, Greg Dortch, missed the contest with an injury.
Tailbacks Matt Colburn (61 yards) and Cade Carney (51 yards) also chipped in on the ground while wideout Alex Bachman showed why he wears the No. 1 jersey with seven catches for a whopping 171 yards through the air.
Their efforts were just enough to overcome a big start by Memphis (up 28-10 at one point) and nearly a terrific finish too as the Tigers took nearly five minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter with an 88 yard touchdown drive to take the lead back. After their defense let them down a bit in allowing Wake to come back and score, the offense zipped down the field in just four plays to set up up a potentially game-tying field goal… but a false start backed up Riley Patterson, who sent the 43-yarder just wide.
QB Brady White was hot and cold during the game in throwing for 171 yards and a touchdown (one INT) but did do enough to keep the defense loose for his tailbacks. Patrick Taylor was the workhorse with 110 yards and a score while all-purpose threat Tony Pollard did a bit of everything with 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go with a 97 yard kick return — an NCAA record-tying seventh of his career.
The thrilling ending dropped Memphis to 8-6 on the season after holding big leads in each of their past two games (this one and the AAC title game against UCF). While the disappointment was clear on behalf of the Tigers, so too was the jubilation on the Wake Forest sideline after the game as they won three of their final four to close out 2018 at 7-6.