A quick take on Syracuse’s 13-0 win over Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse shook off a woeful offensive first half to hang two scores on Wake Forest in the third quarter. The Orange broke a 0-0 tie after a physical 14-play, 75-yard drive culminated in a Terrel Hunt scramble into the endzone for the game’s first score. True freshman Isaiah Johnson then deflected a Tanner Price pass and made a leaping interception. On the very next play, Syracuse ran a reverse to receiver Jarrod West, who then threw a perfect strike to a wide open Brisly Estime for a touchdown to put the Orange up 13-0 with 6:06 left in the third quarter. After Estime’s score, the Orange leaned on its running game to wind down the clock, with Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Hunt accounting for 182 yards on the ground.
ANALYSIS: This was an absolute must-win for Syracuse if they wanted to make the postseason, and Scott Shafer’s group game through. It wasn’t pretty, but with the win, SU (4-4, 2-2 ACC) only needs to win two of its last remaining four games against Maryland, Florida State, Boston College and Pittsburgh. The Orange has had some ugly losses this season (Northwestern, Clemson and Georgia Tech), yet the outlook for back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the late 90s looks bright. Syracuse can thank its defense, which was absolutely superb, holding the Demon Deacons to just 213 on offense while pitching the shutout. The Orange pressured Price all afternoon, especially after star wide receiver Michael Campanaro went down in the first half with a shoulder injury. Without his favorite target, Price finished with just 22-53 for 173 yards.
HERO: Estime’s touchdown reception was part of a breakout game. He finished with 9 receptions for 62 yards, eclipsing his previous best of four receptions for 50 yards against Northwestern. Kudos also to Syracuse legend Donovan McNabb, who had his jersey retired in a rousing halftime ceremony. “None of this would have been possible without these guys standing behind me right now,” McNabb said of his teammates who were on hand.
ZERO: Penalties continue to haunt Syracuse. The Orange was flagged 9 times for 91 yards against the Yellow Jackets, and weren’t much better against the Deacons, with 8 penalties for 61 yards. Hunt also continues to struggle through the air. Though he broke 100 yards for the first time in ACC play, he still has yet to throw for a touchdown in that same period.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse heads to College Park to play Maryland on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 3:30 p.m. TV: ACC Regional Sports Network.