Beal-Smith, Taylor help Wake Forest beat Old Dominion 42-10

Sep 3, 2021, 7:26 AM | Updated: 10:05 pm

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — 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.

The cornerback 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.

“Once I caught it, I broke a couple of tackles,” Taylor said. “And after the last stiffarm, I just saw green grass and a bunch of my guys leading the way.

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.

Taylor — who also had an interception — had assumed the role after a season-ending injury to receiver Donavon Greene. Taylor ran right to Greene to give him a hug behind the end zone after the score, too.

“He’s a guy that has ball skills and we trust, and thought if we had a seam, that he could hit it,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “And obviously that happened tonight.”

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.

“My team, as good as I think they are … we just didn’t play as well as we could today,” Rahne said. “And we’re going to play better.”


ODU: The Monarchs had some good moments on the ground behind Elijah Davis (69 yards) and Blake Watson (55). But ODU got nothing in the passing game from UCF graduate transfer D.J. Mack, who emerged from a three-way battle to start at quarterback. Mack completed 7 of 21 passes for just 39 yards with two interceptions. Wolff threw for 88 yards on 11-for-17 passing in mop-up duty.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had a stress-free start to their push for a sixth straight bowl game, this one with fans back in the stadium after having limited-capacity crowds last season amid the pandemic. Wake Forest had offensive balance (184 yards passing, 164 rushing), though the Demon Deacons ended the first half with Beal-Smith being stuffed on a fourth-down wildcat leap for the end zone at the goal line.


Wake Forest receiver A.T. Perry experienced some first-game jitters with fans back in the stadium after having limited-capacity crowds last year amid the pandemic.

He knew one way to handle it Friday: call Mom.

Three times, no less.

“I was really anxious, I was really nervous,” Perry said. “But as soon as I stepped on the field and I had seen al the fans, I was like, ‘It’s time.'”

Whatever she said worked. He finished with four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.


ODU: The Monarchs have their home opener against Hampton on Sept. 11.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host another visitor from Virginia on Sept. 11, facing Norfolk State.


More AP college football: and


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
27 days ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
27 days ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
27 days ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
27 days ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
27 days ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
27 days ago
Beal-Smith, Taylor help Wake Forest beat Old Dominion 42-10