Mitch Griffis, taking over full-time quarterback duties, threw for three touchdowns as Wake Forest defeated visiting Elon 37-17 on Thursday night in both teams’ season opener at Winston-Salem, N.C.
Griffis, who started last year’s opener when record-setting Sam Hartman was dealing with a medical issue, completed 19 of 30 passes for 329 yards and an interception on Thursday.
Elon, coming off a season in which it reached the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, trailed 24-0 at halftime. The Phoenix had 66 yards of total offense at that juncture before Jalen Hampton ran for a 49-yard touchdown on the team’s first possession of the second half.
Just four minutes later, it was 27-14 after Elon’s Caleb Curtain intercepted a Griffis pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
Matthew Dennis’ third field goal of the game late in the third quarter restored order for the Demon Deacons, who added a 10-yard Demond Claiborne touchdown run with 4:09 left.
Elon quarterback Matthew Downing, who previously played for Georgia, Texas Christian and Louisiana Tech, made his Phoenix debut. He was replaced in the second quarter by Justin Allen, who was intercepted twice and threw for 128 yards.
Downing was 3-for-7 for 17 yards.
It was a spectacular opening 3 1/2 minutes to the season for Wake Forest, which forced a three-and-out and then went 53 yards in seven plays to score on Griffis’ 18-yard pass to Wesley Grimes. Griffis was 5-for-5 for 46 yards on the drive.
Wake Forest was up 10-0 later in the first quarter on Dennis’ 34-yard field goal.
On the third play of the second quarter, Griffis connected with Jahmal Banks for a 33-yard touchdown play.
The Phoenix reached the Wake Forest 8-yard line late in the first half, but Demarcus Rankin intercepted Allen in the end zone. The Demon Deacons wasted no time in converting, as three snaps later Griffis and tight end Cameron Hite hooked up for a 69-yard touchdown pass.
That put Griffis at 11-for-14 for 230 yards in the half.
The Demon Deacons scored on Dennis’ 29-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
Wake Forest is 12-0-1 all-time vs. Elon, with the most recent matchup in 2019. Thursday night marked the first time in the series that Elon reached a double-digit point total.
–Field Level Media