WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — Wake Forest did almost nothing in the first half — and just about everything in the second.
Everything, that is, except come all the way back from 20 points down.
The Demon Deacons lost 23-17 to Boston College on Saturday despite a huge second half from freshman quarterback John Wolford.
After falling behind 17-0 at halftime and 23-3 early in the fourth quarter, Wolford put Wake Forest in position to claim a come-from-behind win before throwing an interception on his team's final offensive play.
"The morale in the locker room is, guys are just kind of frustrated because we're not getting the Ws, but at the same time we showed a lot of character," Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson said.
Wolford was 22 of 30 for 242 yards for Wake Forest (2-6, 0-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) — and 233 of those yards came in the second half.
Receiver E.J. Scott and Isaiah Robinson had short touchdown runs about 1½ minutes apart in the fourth quarter before the Demon Deacons got the ball back with 2Â½ minutes left in a one-possession game.
BC defensive back Justin Simmons then iced it by intercepting Wolford's sideline pass with 2:06 left.
"That wasn't the time to push it," first-year Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "It is OK to throw it away. That is a valuable lesson he will learn."
Jon Hilliman rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns for BC, which blew fourth-quarter leads at home against both Colorado State and most recently Clemson.
"I felt good to finally close something out," quarterback Tyler Murphy said. "You lose sleep after games like that. ... We were just a hungry team coming into this week, and to be able to close out and finish, that's definitely a big confidence booster for our team because it shows that we can do it."
Murphy finished 11 of 15 for 165 yards with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Shakim Phillips while Hilliman had touchdown runs of 1 and 33 yards to help the Eagles (5-3, 2-2) move within one win of bowl eligibility for the 14th time in 16 years.
"It gives us a chance to get win No. 6," coach Steve Addazio said.
A Wake Forest offense that in the first half didn't advance further than its own 37 and managed just 6 total yards sure made things interesting in the second.
Trailing by 20, Wake Forest came to life with a 15-play, fourth-quarter drive that ended with Scott's 3-yard touchdown run with 8:03 remaining.
When Myles Willis fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Brad Watson recovered at the BC 15. After Wolford hit Jared Crump for 14 yards on third-and-10, Robinson powered in from 1 yard out through the left side to pull the Demon Deacons within six with 6:26 remaining.
Wake Forest forced a punt and took over at its own 20 with 2:31 to play. Wolford hit Scott over the middle for 27 yards one play before Simmons picked off his sideline throw for Jared Crump.
"The second half, we knew they were going to take their shots," Simmons said. "Credit to them — they found what was working. We just had to fight it out and we were able to make a play at the end as a defense."
Murphy, a transfer from Florida who leads the team in both rushing and passing, appeared to put this one out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
After the defense stopped Wake Forest on a fourth-and-3 at the BC 19, Murphy led the Eagles downfield in a hurry.
He hit a wide-open David Dudeck for 41 yards one play before Phillips got behind the defense for an easy score that made it a 20-point game with 13:46 left. Tyler Harris blocked the extra point for Wake Forest.
Nobody thought a tight finish was possible in this one, after BC appeared to have taken firm control early. The Eagles scored on their first two possessions, and at one point in the second quarter outgained the Demon Deacons 139 to minus-1.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap