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Monarchs can't exorcise Demon Deacs

ODU didn’t get to the end zone until late, with Hayden Wolff lofting a 9-yard toss to Isaiah Spencer with 2:27 left as they lost 42-10.
Credit: AP
Wake Forest running back Christian Beal-Smith out runs Old Dominion's Ali Ali for a first-half touchdown during an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Winston-Salem, N.C. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Christian Beal-Smith ran for two touchdowns while Ja’Sir Taylor scored on a 99-yard kickoff return to help Wake Forest beat Old Dominion 42-10 in Friday night’s season opener for both teams.

It marked the Monarchs’ return to the field after not playing last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beal-Smith ran untouched around the left end and sprinted down the sideline for a 48-yard touchdown in the first quarter to get the Demon Deacons on the board. Then, after the Monarchs managed a field goal, Taylor came through with his huge return that squashed any fleeting momentum for ODU.

Taylor broke through an arm-tackle attempt and stayed on his feet through a stumble around the 20-yard line, then kicked into gear and down the sideline for the 99-yard score and a 14-3 lead.

It marked only the second kickoff return for a touchdown for Wake Forest since 2008 — and it came from a fifth-year senior with only two punt returns on his resume in the return game.

Sam Hartman also threw for three scores for Wake Forest, with one of those going to Jaquarii Roberson for his fifth consecutive game with a TD.

Old Dominion was playing its first game since Nov. 30, 2019 and its first game under head coach Ricky Rahne. Rahne, who had previously been Penn State’s offensive coordinator, took over the program nine days after the Monarchs’ last game.

But the Conference USA program canceled all fall sports last season due to the pandemic, delaying Rahne’s debut — which was scheduled to be at home against Wake Forest last year — for more than 640 days.

The Monarchs didn’t get to the end zone until late, with Hayden Wolff lofting a 9-yard toss to Isaiah Spencer with 2:27 left.