Wake, rattle and roll
Deacons shut down body-challenged Sun Devils 22-3
Posted: Saturday December 25, 1999 09:13 PM
Wake Forest quarterback Ben Sankey won Aloha Bowl Most Valuable Player honors with his performance. AP
HONOLULU (AP) -- It's a good thing Jim Caldwell didn't give in to Ben Sankey's frequent requests for a position change.
During his four-year career at Wake Forest, Sankey, a backup quarterback until this season, asked for a switch so he could get more playing time.
Caldwell told Sankey to sit tight and good things would happen.
It did in the Aloha Bowl on Saturday, when Sankey ended his collegiate career by guiding the Demon Deacons (7-5) to a 23-3 victory over Arizona State.
Voted the game's outstanding player, Sankey passed for one touchdown and put his team in position for another TD and Matthew Burdick's three field goals.
"I can't say enough about him," Caldwell said of Sankey. "We are indebted to his commitment to the program.
"He played behind someone for four years. He wanted to play another position -- wide receiver or safety. He's a tremendous individual."
But Sankey wasn't about to talk about the past. His focus remained on the Sun Devils.
"Arizona State underestimated us and came to play smash-mouth football," Sankey said. "We were sluggish at first. That happens. But we worked our game plan. We did the little things and didn't worry about ASU's defense."
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, with Burdick and Mike Barth exchanging field goals.
In the third quarter, a partially blocked punt by Marvin Chalmers led to a 24-yard field goal by Burdick, and Sankey connected with Jimmy Caldwell -- the coach's son -- on a 56-yard scoring pass. Caldwell caught the ball on a slant pattern, dodged two defenders and raced untouched into the end zone.
"I saw the safety cheating up," Sankey said. "Jimmy ran a great route. I just look for his uniform. He did the rest. It was a momentum-builder."
Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder said, "We had a double-robber called. It was to take away that play. Once again, we didn't make the play. But it was the right call."
The final points came after Nick Murphy's punt went out at the Wake Forest 49. On the ninth play of the drive, Morgan Kane dived over for the score. A fumble recovery also led to Burdick's 43-yard field goal.
"It was one of our better-played games offensively. And we shut down a team with a lot of weapons," Jim Caldwell said. "Our special teams also did well.
"We're a pretty good football team, but it takes us awhile to get on track."
Arizona State was dealt a setback before the kickoff when 10 players, three of them starters, came down with food poisoning.
"Not to make any excuses, but we woke up this morning with eight to 12 guys sick," Snyder said.
"But that's not to take away from Wake Forest. They're strong, physical and I have a lot of admiration for them. They took us out of what we wanted to do."
Ten Arizona State players, including three starters - quarterback John Leonard, defensive tackle Jawell Samilton and safety Alfred Williams -- saw only limited action as a result of the outbreak. Prior to the game, the Sun Devils lost quarterback Ryan Kealy with a knee injury.
Sankey completed 13-of-22 passes for 188 yards. Kane rushed for 83 yards on 21 attempts.
For the Sun Devils (6-6), J.R. Redmond rushed for 89 yards.
But Arizona State, which had only 94 yards rushing overall, advanced beyond the 50 only twice. The first resulted in the Sun Devils' only points, and the second, to the Demon Deacons 24, ended with a missed field goal.
"They're a good rushing defense team," Snyder said. "And everything we do is off the running game."
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