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Wake Forest stomps Vandy in Robbie Caldwell's final game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Wake Forest made sure it wasn't ending the 2010 campaign on a dubious losing streak.

The Demon Deacons scored 24 first-half points on their way to a 34-13 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday night to snap a nine-game losing skid, which was the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Paced by 138 rushing yards from Josh Harris, Wake Forest (3-9) went out a winner, handing Vanderbilt (2-10) its seventh straight loss.

"I was really impressed. We, like Vanderbilt, have played a brutal schedule," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "We've had nine straight losses to bowl teams. Tonight, our guys played good football and didn't lose focus. I was also proud of a Vanderbilt team that played through adversity losing their coach."

The Commodores played less than 12 hours after getting the news that coach Robbie Caldwell was stepping down after Saturday's game.

Caldwell addressed the players Saturday morning before the school held a press conference in which David Williams, the vice chancellor in charge of university affairs and athletics, said he and Caldwell reached a "mutual agreement that the university and the football program needed to go in a new direction."

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews, however, said the team was told it wasn't Caldwell's choice to step down.

"Coach Caldwell made it clear to us that he was fired. He would never quit on us. Coach Caldwell is not a quitter," Matthews said. "That is what he wanted to keep reiterating. Coach Caldwell is not a quitter. He is not going to resign on anyone. He loves all of us and he is going to fight to the very end, and he is going to go down swinging."

Added an emotional linebacker John Stokes: "I think coach Caldwell would be here if he had the opportunity to be here."

Vanderbilt struck first with a 31-yard field goal by Ryan Fowler on its opening drive. Wake Forest responded with a scoring drive of its own. The Demon Deacons drove 70 yards in seven plays and Harris capped it off with a 15-yard touchdown run with 9:07 left in the first quarter.

Harris set up Wake Forest's next touchdown with a 74-yard run early in the second quarter. On the following play, Josh Adams rushed it in from 11 yards out for a 17-3 lead with 10:09 remaining in the first half.

"Josh Harris' [74-yard run] was huge," Grobe said. "We came in with a plan to run the ball."

Harris had 131 of his 138 yards in the first half and rushed just four times after halftime. By that point, though, Wake Forest was in control.

With less than 3 minutes to go in the second quarter, C.J. Washington raced around Vanderbilt's blocking wall and got a hand on Richard Kent's punt. Gelo Orange recovered it at the Commodores' 11-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Tanner Price ran in for a touchdown from 3 yards out for a 24-3 lead with 2:28 remaining in the first half.

Chris Givens blocked Kent in the third quarter, setting up a 36-yard field goal from Jimmy Newman. With the kick, Newman set a school record with 12 straight field goals.

It also marked the first time since Nov. 29, 2008, that Wake Forest blocked two punts in one game, which also happened against Vanderbilt.

Givens added a touchdown on a 9-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter for an insurmountable 34-6 lead.

"I'm sad. I hated to leave those players in the locker room," Caldwell said. "I told them that my uniform colors may change but my loyalty to them will always remain the same. I love every one of them."