By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Nick Sciba kicked a 29-yard field goal with 22 seconds left and No. 24 Wake Forest beat Louisville 37-34 on Saturday to remain unbeaten.
Sam Hartman threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense for the Demon Deacons (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who got a huge boost late from Justice Ellison with several patient and chain-moving runs on the go-ahead drive.
“We played hard for 60 minutes,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We never stopped competing.”
Louisville (3-2, 1-1) got a final drive with a chance to tie and no timeouts, but the Cardinals’ desperate, lateral-filled play never got across midfield before Wake Forest’s Rondell Bothroyd recovered the loose ball to end this one after time had expired.
Malik Cunningham had a big day for the Cardinals, throwing for 332 yards and two scores while running for two additional TDs. Louisville rallied from a 27-17 deficit entering the fourth quarter and 34-27 late, with Cunningham making his biggest throw by hitting Tyler Harrell over the middle in a frenetic final few minutes.
Harrell then turned the corner and down the left sideline, breaking away from four black jerseys in pursuit for a 75-yard touchdown that tied the game at 34 with 3:01 left.
“We made some plays,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We still left some plays out there on the field.”
Louisville: The Cardinals hadn’t lost since the season opener against Mississippi and were coming off a win at Florida State to open league play. They had won the past two meetings in the series, including a 62-59 shootout here two years ago against a 5-0 Wake Forest team. Cunningham was strong the entire way and helped Louisville to 540 total yards, but the Cardinals burned through their timeouts on Wake Forest’s final drive and didn’t have much of a chance to respond to Sciba’s winner.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons hopped into the AP Top 25 poll after a fourth 4-0 start in six seasons, and they entered October as the only team with multiple league wins. This marks Wake Forest’s first 3-0 start in league play since 2011, putting them atop the league’s shaken-up Atlantic Division race now that six-time reigning league champion Clemson has an early loss and No. 23 North Carolina State is the league’s highest-ranked team.
There was a critical sequence right before halftime that is sure to remain a topic of conversation for the Cardinals.
Facing a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 4 seconds left, Wake Forest ran a running play to Christian Beal-Smith who was smothered for no gain. Louisville’s players and sideline began celebrating and heading toward the locker room thinking the half was over, but officials ruled that Wake Forest had called a timeout with 1 second left on the clock.
That stood on review, and Sciba kicked a 20-yard field goal for the 20-17 halftime lead. That had Satterfield extending his arms, palms up, as he began the march to the tunnel.
The Demon Deacons keep winning, and that should keep them at least holding their position if not inching up the rankings as the ACC’s standings leader.
Louisville: The Cardinals return home to face Virginia next Saturday in a cross-divisional league matchup.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons stay in division play when they visit Syracuse next Saturday.
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