Final Score: Hokies 3 – Demon Deacons 6 2OT, Attendance: 27,820
Weather: Cold but sunny, 30; Ticket Price: $25 Scalper, Face $40; Parking $20 (2 spots)
“Winning’s not the only thing” by Tree
Groves Stadium is the home of Demon Deacon football. It is a small stadium and it is one of the few remaining sites where lawn seats are available in the end zone. A very nice video scoreboard sits in that same end zone so any other seat you buy will allow you to catch all the replays. We picked up two tickets for $25 apiece with a $40 face value. They turned out to be pretty good seats, about half way up on the 20 yard line. It was a cold day but the sun kept us warm.
All the seats are benches with seatbacks. However, with the ever expanding waistlines of Americans, the row behind us couldn’t fit everyone in their assigned seats. There was a group of very large and irate Wake Forest fans complaining the Hokie fans in the row were taking up too much room. Ironic that the supersized family was complaining about the skinny students who were sitting squeezed in shoulder to shoulder. Fortunately, the experienced usher realized that physics ensured that this portly pack of porkers was not going to fit in their seats. He found them better seats closer to the field and moved them free of charge, diffusing what could have become an ugly scene.
As my son is a Hokie, we sat on the visitors’ side along with a ton of other Va. Tech fans. With it being the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, it appeared that the majority of students had gone home and sold their tickets to Hokies. At least half of the stands were orange and maroon. The Wake Forest fans that did remain, however, took up the challenge and there was spirited cheering and good hearted insults tossed back and forth the entire game. I did not hear any noteworthy signature cheers from the Wake fans however. There were plenty of amusing bits on the field during the TV timeouts, ranging from giant corn hole to sumo suits fights then finishing with shopping cart races. Given the historically poor entertainment quality of past Demon Deacon football teams, I guess the SID at Wake had to become pretty good at filling time and keeping fans around. The concessions were decent enough with funnel cakes topping the list of generally standard fare. My souvenir cup ran $5 with refills going for $2.
Getting to Wake Forest was relatively simple. Do note that the university resides in Winston Salem NC and not Wake Forest, NC. We found parking immediately across from the stadium and picked up two lots for tailgating for $10 each. We were very early and got the pick of the spots. Eventually the lot did fill up but I think folks were getting in up to twenty minutes before kickoff. It was refreshing to be able to simply drive to the stadium and start tailgating. You just can’t do that at the big programs. Instead, you have to spend as much on a parking pass as on your tickets. The atmosphere at the lots in Wake Forest was very laid back with a big mix of Hokie and Demon Deacon fans joining in. I did not see a lot of elaborate rigs from the Deacon faithful.
This was a game that had all the earmarks of a blowout. It was the end of the season for Wake Forest who was bowl ineligible. Tech on the other hand was practically in a must win situation. A victory here would secure a bowl for the Hokies. It was a sloppy game where neither team could decide if they wanted to win. Nonetheless, it made for an entertaining show if you were willing to embrace the mediocrity. Neither team was able to score in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and yes, the fourth quarter. It was an endless stream of punts, missed field goals and the occasional turnover. I have seen the Rockettes kick less than these two teams. The field goals weren’t chip shots but they weren’t fifty yarders either. Wake Forest had a chance to win it on the last play of the game, but the thirty-seven yarder was wide right.
So the game then went to overtime where the offenses didn’t get much better. It became a kicking contest where the Wake Forest kicker redeemed himself by hitting the winning thirty-nine yarder. SB Nation ranked this game as the worst one of 2014. It surely wasn’t pretty, but at least it was competitive. It was a bad game, but I have seen far worse games (such as the shellacking Florida State put on Clemson back in 2013).
There are a lot of things to like about Wake Forest football. The tickets aren’t too expensive, the stadium is reasonably attractive and the tailgating is cheap. On the downside, the program has been a historically weak one so the entertainment value is limited. But, one shouldn’t be too hard on the Demon Deacons. They have one of the smallest undergrad enrollments in the FBS. Despite that, the Wake Forest teams always seem to be competitive whenever I see them play.
In the end, I wouldn’t put Groves Stadium anyone’s must see list. However, there are worst places to see a game. If your team does play Wake at Wake, it is a good opportunity to get in some quality tailgating. The bonus is that your team will likely come home with the “W”.