The Syracuse offense rolled up lots of yards on Saturday afternoon, but could not finish many drives with points and fell to Maryland at the Carrier Dome, 34-20. The Terrapins (3-1) benefitted from three huge plays – a 90-yard touchdown on a screen pass, a blocked punt, and an interception returned 88 yards for a touchdown – en route to overcoming the offensive effort of the Orange (2-1), who rolled up 589 yards of offense, including 370 on the ground.
While SU was able to pick up chunks of yards seemingly at will at times, they were a lousy 4-of-14 on third down conversions and failed on their lone attempt to convert a fourth down. The Orange defense buckled down after a poor start, permitting the Terps to gain a total of 93 yards on offense in the final 36 minutes of action and 89 yards on the ground in the entire game.
In a trendsetting drive for the game, the Orange took the opening kickoff and rolled up 59 yards before the offense stalled out. Ryan Norton came in and tucked a 35-yard field goal attempt inside the right upright to stake SU to a 3-0 lead just over three minutes into the game. Just under two minutes later, Maryland took the lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass. The extra point put the Terps up, 7-3.
After SU could not sustain their next drive, Riley Dixon’s punt pinned Maryland at their own 10. Two plays later, Maryland showed their explosiveness when C.J. Brown zipped a screen pass to Brandon Ross, who exploded for a 90-yard touchdown. The conversion put the visitors on top, 14-3, with 6:31 left in the opening quarter.
Syracuse came back with another field goal, this one off the foot of Cole Murphy covering 49 yards. Murphy’s successful kick was the first in his career and it cut the Maryland lead to 14-6. The Orange kept the pressure on the guests, forcing a quick punt, which Brisly Estime returned to the Maryland 47 to set up a short field. Terrel Hunt cashed in on the short field, running into the end zone from eight yards out on the first play of the second quarter. Norton put the extra point through the uprights and the Orange were within 14-13.
Maryland again used the big play to threaten the Orange, this time using a 45-yard completion to flip the field and get into the red zone. The Terrapins advanced as far as the SU three-yard-line before the Orange defense pushed back and forced them to settle for a 31-yard field goal attempt. The kick was true, putting the visitors in front by a 17-13 margin.
After the teams traded punts, the Orange were forced to kick again. The Terrapins blocked this one, however, taking over possession at the SU 28. Four plays later, Maryland scored another touchdown and the conversion made it 24-13 in their favor.
On the ensuing drive, the Syracuse offense struck back with a big play of their own when Hunt connected with Jarrod West on a 52-yard pass to get inside the Terps’ 20. Two plays later, though, the Orange committed their first turnover of the season. On what looked like a miscommunication with his receiver, Hunt’s pass to the left was intercepted by William Likely, who raced 88 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. The extra point boosted Maryland’s lead to 31-13 with 3:37 left in the first half.
Prince-Tyson Gulley jumpstarted the next Orange possession with a 39-yard run and, two plays later, Hunt connected with Estime for a 26-yard gain through the air to get to the Maryland eight-yard-line. SU then self-destructed under a flurry of penalty flags, eventually settling for a 25-yard field goal try with five seconds left in the half. Norton, however, missed the short kick, sending the Orange into the locker room down 18 points.
Maryland opened the third quarter with a first down, but three straight incompletions forced them to punt to the Orange and they pinned SU deep in their own end. Hunt and Gulley combined for 53 yards in three runs to cross the Terps’ 40, but the Orange offense slowed there. On fourth-and-one from the Maryland 27, the Orange committed a false start, backing them up five yards. On the next snap, Hunt was sacked, giving the ball back to Maryland.
The Syracuse defense put forth a strong effort through the majority of the half, forcing punts on the next four Maryland drives. The Orange offense was no better, though, punting the ball back on their first three possessions in that time. After that fourth straight Maryland punt, Hunt fumbled on the first play of the ensuing Syracuse drive, giving the Terrapins the ball at the SU 23. The turnover turned into a 44-yard field goal a few plays later. The first tally of the second half stretched Maryland’s lead to 34-13 with just over four minutes to play.
Syracuse responded by ripping off chunks of yards on the ensuing drive, eventually breaking into the end zone when Hunt carried the ball in from a yard out with 48 seconds on the clock. Murphy connected on the extra point to make it 34-20.
The Orange opted for an onside kick, which Maryland covered, then ran out the remaining seconds from there.
Terrel Hunt had a spotty day through the air, finishing 14-of-28 for 219 yards and an interception. Hunt was one of two SU players to roll up over 100 yards on the ground, finishing the game with 156 yards on 23 carries. Prince-Tyson Gulley joined Hunt in the century club with 14 carries for 138 yards. Jarrod West topped the receiving cast with three grabs for 74 yards.
Cameron Lynch led the Syracuse defense for the third straight game with seven stops and also had one of the team’s three sacks. Marquez Hodge tallied a sack and Micah Robinson and Julian Whigham split the other.
Next Saturday, Syracuse will meet up with Notre Dame at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The Fighting Irish (3-0), who are off this week, have outscored their opponents by a cumulative score of 109-31 on the season. The game marks SU’s return to prime time, as the game will start at 8:00pm Eastern and be televised by ABC.