Wake Forest had the football on its own 23-yard line with 3:28 to play. The Demon Deacons trailed the Maryland by five points and needed a touchdown to take the lead. But Jim Grobe’s team could not pick up a first down, let alone move the ball into Terps' territory.

After an incomplete pass and a 4-yard Josh Harris run, quarterback Tanner Price was sacked twice, first by Kenneth Tate and then by Demetrius Hartsfield. Tate, who made his season debut in the team’s 31-21 loss at West Virginia, delivered the third-down sack, and Hartsfield, who notched 10 tackles against Wake Forest, recorded his sack on fourth-and-15.

It was the culmination of an impressive defensive performance — one that helped Maryland win its first conference game in more than a year.

“Our defense, I feel like, is one of the best.” Hartsfield said. “Our main goal is to be number one in the ACC.”

Statistically speaking, Florida State’s defensive unit still holds that title. However, following NC State’s last-minute win against the Noles — a loss that all but ensured that the ACC will not have a representative in the national championship game — Maryland stands as the lone team in the Atlantic Division without a conference defeat.

The Terps, a season removed from a 2-10 disaster in Randy Edsall’s first year, have already surpassed their 2011 win total in large part due to new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and his 3-4 defensive scheme. 

“We want the three down linemen to take up four of five of the linemen so the linebackers can run free,” Stewart said.

Coming into the game, Edsall said he wanted to limit Tate’s playing time to keep him fresh, but felt he couldn’t pull Tate from the field in such a close game.

“When he’s out there, there’s a steadiness, there’s a calmness,” Edsall said of Tate’s impact on the defense. “When you have a guy out there that has the intelligence that he has and understands the game … that helps you as a defense.”

When Edsall was hired as the Maryland football coach, he wasn’t sure if Tate would enter the NFL draft or return for his senior season.

Tate decided to return to Maryland. After suffering a knee injury and missing last season, he was granted a medical hardship waiver that provided a fifth year of eligibility.

With his resurgence, offensive coordinators now need to emphasize that their offensive linemen have to find Tate on the field at all times. While many teammates say Tate is the smartest football player they've met, that'd be a smarter move by the coordinators.

Complete Conference Standings

Boston College (1-4, 0-2 ACC)
• The Eagles allowed Army to rush for 516 yards. Three Black Knights -- Raymond Maples, Trent Steelman and Larry Dixon -- ran for 184, 141 and 128 yards, respectively, leaving Boston College yet to beat an FBS team this year.

“We’re going to have to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out where to go,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “There’s no place to go but up.”

• Boston College faces a challenge in Tallahassee, Fla., this weekend as it tries to win its first conference game. It will be difficult to do so against the Seminoles and best defense in the ACC.

Next Game: at Florida State Oct. 13

No. 16 Clemson (5-1, 2-1 ACC)
• The Tigers avenged the upset it suffered at the hands of Georgia Tech last year with a 47-31 victory at home. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd threw two touchdowns, including the 50th and 51st in his college career to pass Charlie Whitehurst’s previous school record of 49.

“This was a must-win situation for us, especially going into the bye week,” Boyd said. “I think this is a momentum shifter heading into the second half of the season.”

• After Virgina Tech hosts the Blue Devils, the Hokies visit Death Valley. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has more than a week to prepare to stop quarterback Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech attack.

Next Game: vs. Virginia Tech Oct. 20

Duke (5-1, 2-0 ACC)
• Duke is off to its best six-game start since 1994, when it also started 2-0 in conference play. Sophomore Anthony Boone made his first career start in place of injured quarterback Sean Renfree and threw four touchdowns in the 42-17 win against Virginia.

• Conner Vernon set a new ACC record for career receptions, pulling in the 239th of his career. He finished with seven catches for 93 yards, breaking former Clemson wide receiver Aaron Kelly’s record.

Next Game: at Virginia Tech Oct. 13

No. 12 Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC)
 • In a hostile environment, EJ Manuel had his worst game of the season as the FSU offense struggled against NC State. The Noles offense managed only 122 yards in the second half. Manuel and the FSU offense had averaged 51 points per game before it posted a paltry 16 in Raleigh.

• The loss kept Florida State from moving to 6-0 for the first time since 1999 when the Seminoles won the national championship. The loss, however, likely knocks the Noles out of national championship game consideration.

Next Game: vs. Boston College Oct. 13

Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 ACC)
• The Yellow Jackets put up 31 points at Clemson, but gave up 47 in the team’s third consecutive defeat. The Tigers' DeAndre Hopkins had seven catches, 173 receiving yards and two touchdowns as Clemson ran 93 plays and gained 601 yards against the Georgia Tech defense.

• Georgia Tech’s 2-4 start is its worst since the team went 1-10 in 1994.

Next Game: vs. Boston College Oct. 20

Maryland (3-2, 1-0 ACC)
• Freshman Stefon Diggs muffed a punt in the third quarter, but responded with an electric 63-yard catch on the Terps' final scoring drive. Diggs finished with five catches for 105 yards in a performance he called, “one of the worst games of my life.”

• Maryland looks to continue to build its momentum in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend. It will go into the contest with more confidence in freshman place-kicker Brad Craddock, who connected on field goals from 49 and 52 yards last week.

Next Game: at Virginia Oct. 13

Miami (Fla.) (4-2, 3-0 ACC)
• Two Notre Dame running backs, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III, ran for more than 100 yards as the Irish crushed the Hurricanes 41-3 in Chicago. The Irish finished with 376 rushing yards as they dominated time of possession. Notre Dame held the ball for 39:08, a huge difference compared to 20:52 for Miami.

• One week after Stephen Morris threw for a school-record 566 yards, he was 18 for 35 for 201 yards in a loss. The Hurricanes failed to score an offensive touchdown for the first time this year.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to grow up someday, and that’s a tough task,” coach Al Golden said. “What we’ve got to do right now is get back to Miami, heal up and then get ready for really our first home stand of the year. We are not going to get negative.”

Next Game: vs. North Carolina Oct. 13

NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
• For the second year in a row, coach Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack squad dethroned a top-10 team at home. Last year, No. 7 Clemson lost in Raleigh. This time, No. 3 Florida State was stunned as it lost 17-16 at Carter-Finley Stadium.

“This crowd really helps fill our gas tank in a game like this,” O’Brien said. “It was a great effort by the team. A great effort by our defense to shutout a team like Florida State in the second half like we did.”

• NC State held a players-only meeting last week after its loss to Miami. It paid dividends as Mike Glennon hit Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard score on fourth down with 16 seconds left. The Wolfpack converted three fourth-down plays on the game’s final drive.

Next Game: at Maryland Oct. 20

North Carolina (4-2, 1-1 ACC)
• Gio Bernard rushed for a career-high 262 yards as the Tar Heels beat the Hokies at home for the first time since 1938. Bernard broke off runs of 62 and 51 yards, both of which were greater than Virginia Tech’s rushing total of a meager 40 yards. Bernard is the Tar Heels’ first back to rush for 200 yards in a game since Ronnie McGill in 2003.

• Next up is a dangerous Hurricanes squad that is reeling after being whipped by Notre Dame. North Carolina lost 30-24 at home to Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 15 last year. The Tar Heels last beat the Hurricanes on Nov. 14, 2009 during the Butch Davis era.

Next Game: at Miami (Fla.) Oct. 13

Virginia (2-4, 0-2 ACC)
• Perry Jones had 95 rushing yards in the first half for the Cavaliers, but only five yards in the second half. The Cavaliers led Duke 17-14 at halftime, but were outscored 28-0 in the second half.

• Phillip Sims, who transferred from Alabama, made his first career start and completed 21 of 42 passes for 268 yards. Kevin Parks broke a 16-quarter streak without a rushing touchdown when he scored on a carry in the first quarter.

Next Game: vs. Maryland Oct. 13

Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1 ACC)
• The Hokies allowed more than 500 yards of offense for the second time this season in their loss at North Carolina. Frank Beamer’s streak of 10 consecutive road ACC victories was snapped and the 48 points his team allowed was the most it ever gave up in conference play.

• Virginia Tech hosts the Blue Devils Saturday. It will look to slow down a Duke offense that scored 37.8 points per game through six contests.

Next Game: vs. Duke Oct. 13

Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3 ACC)
• Terence Davis, who recorded career highs in catches and receiving yards against Duke, filled in at flanker for injured Michael Campanaro. Davis finished with seven catches for 130 yards.

• Sophomore Kevin Johnson nabbed his first career interception in the loss. Ironically, Johnson succeeded Campanaro as River Hill High School’s featured running back after Campanaro graduated.

• The Demon Deacons have an extra week to prepare for either Michael Rocco or Phillip Sims since Virginia has not announced its starting quarterback.

Next Game: at Virginia Oct. 20