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WAKE FOREST — Wake Forest’s legendary 45-game win streak came to an end Saturday when Cardinal Gibbons defeated the Cougars 27-24 at Trentini Stadium.
Before the season started, Wake Forest did not lose a regular season game since 2013 and they didn’t lose a game at all since 2015. The three-time defending 4AA state champions have won 62 straight games against Wake County opponents.
Wake Forest head coach Reggie Lucas, who has been the coach for the Cougars since 2009, said it was a horrible way to open the season, but he remained positive after the loss.
“My overall reaction is like any other coach after a loss,” Lucas said. “I was disappointed, but I realize it’s not the end of the world. High school football has grown so much and seeing the different reactions to our loss I have to laugh at some of them. What’s important to me is my team and growing each day. Our young men have a life after football and we are using every aspect of the game to prepare them.”
Wake Forest was tied with Cardinal Gibbons 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. With 1:34 left in the period, Maquel Haywood scored a rushing touchdown. Less than a minute later, Cardinal Gibbons answered back with an 8-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, the Cougars started playing like their usual selves. Haywood scored back-to-back touchdowns for Wake Forest. The first was a 21-yard run and the second was a 54-yard receiving touchdown off a pass from Noah Douglas. Haywood was named the Farm Bureau player of the game for Wake Forest. He had 156 of the team’s 180 yards on offense and scored all of their touchdowns.
“Maquel is a tough young man who leads by example,” Lucas complimented.
Cardinal Gibbons cut the deficit on a 51-yard touchdown pass. With time expiring in the first half, Wake Forest kicker Austin Riley knocked in a 47-yard field goal. The Cougars led 24-14 going into halftime.
However, Cardinal Gibbons dominated Wake Forest in the second half. The Crusaders scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter to take the lead at 27-24. In the fourth quarter, Wake Forest could not muster up a comeback and Cardinal Gibbons held them off on defense. As time ticked down, Wake Forest could only watch as their historic streak of 45 wins in a row came to an end.
“Cardinal Gibbons finished the game and we didn’t,” Lucas said. “Football is four quarters. We won the first two and Cardinal Gibbons won the most important ones. Penalties played a big part, but more so missed assignments. On offense, we need to get better with blocking. Defensively, we can not give up big plays. Special teams hurt us with field position in the second quarter after a score which led to a score from Cardinal Gibbons. We must win special teams.”
In his first game as a starter, Douglas completed five of 13 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Wake Forest was also held to only 80 total rushing yards. Haywood caught four of Douglas’ five completions. Triston Spencer caught a pass for nine yards.
With the loss, Wake Forest starts the season 0-1 for the first time since 2006 when they lost to Riverside 18-16. Lucas talked to his players after the loss and offered some encouraging words to help them get back on their feet heading into week two.
“I told the guys not to let this game define us as a team,” Lucas said. “We knew the streak would not last forever and now we can get back to business. I told them each week is going to be a challenge, so we can make excuses or get better. Clayton is a very good football team so we need to move on and focus on them.”
Wake Forest will play at Clayton Friday at 7 p.m.