Saturday’s game between Syracuse and Tulane was close on the stat sheet, but not on the scoreboard as the Orange dominated on special teams on their way to a 52-17 romp at the Carrier Dome. SU (2-2) blocked three kicks in the game and also recovered a fumble on a punt return in jumping out to a pair of 25-point leads in the first half and not looking back.
In his first career start, quarterback Terrel Hunt had another exemplary game, guiding Syracuse to six touchdowns in eight first half possessions to blow open the game early. The Green Wave (2-2) had no response to Hunt, who accounted for five touchdowns on the day.
The Orange opened the game by moving 75 yards in just over two minutes to start the scoring with a touchdown. Jerome Smith made a one-handed snag of a Terrel Hunt and rambled in from 16 yards out for a touchdown. Ryan Norton connected on the extra point and it was 7-0, SU, before most of the home fans could get comfortable. Tulane responded with a field goal, but Syracuse repeated their opening drive, again needing seven plays for a second 75-yard touchdown drive. Hunt zipped a pass to a wide-open Christopher Clark from 19 yards out for the score and Norton’s kick made it 14-3 with over five minutes left in the opening session.
The Orange made their first big play on special teams on Tulane’s next drive when Darius Kelly snuffed out a punt and Durell Eskridge grabbed the ball at the Green Wave six-yard-line. Two plays later, Hunt floated a five-yard touchdown pass to fullback Clay Cleveland to cash in on Kelly’s big play. Norton booted the conversion and SU held a 21-3 lead with 3:21 left in the first quarter. Tulane fought back, posting a touchdown of their own, then forcing a punt on the ensuing Syracuse possession. The Green Wave returner, however, tried to scoop up the ball, but dropped it. Devante McFarlane pounced on it for the Orange, setting them up at the visitors’ 15. Three plays later, Hunt scrambled around the right side from 16 yards out for the score, diving into the front corner of the end zone. The extra point put SU on top by a 28-10 margin less than 90 seconds into the second quarter.
After the Syracuse defense forced a three-and-out, defensive tackle Eric Crume broke through the line and deflected the Tulane punt. The ball carried out of bounds at the Green Wave 17, once again setting up the Orange with great field position. Shortly after, Prince-Tyson Gulley sliced across the goal line for a one-yard score and Norton tacked on the conversion to make SU’s lead 35-10. Not satisfied with that performance, the Orange again got a major play on special teams at the end of the next Tulane drive when defensive tackle John Raymon swatted aside a Green Wave field goal attempt. The Green Wave scored on their next drive, however, cutting the margin to 35-17 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Aided by a pair of personal foul penalties, Hunt guided Syracuse to the visitors’ one-yard-line with seven seconds on the clock. With one time out still in his pocket, head coach Scott Shafer opted to try to score a touchdown and the bold decision paid off when Jerome Smith barreled in from a yard out with four seconds on the clock. Norton added the conversion for a 42-17 Orange lead at the break.
By comparison, the second half had a lot fewer fireworks, although most halves would pale in comparison after 59 points were tallied in the first half. SU posted another touchdown on their second possession in the third quarter when they rolled 68 yards in seven plays, capping the drive when Hunt hit Cleveland from four yards out for their second scoring connection of the day. The drive was set up by an interception by Julian Whigham, who returned the ball 17 yards for the Orange, and the conversion put the hosts up, 49-17. Drew Allen took over for Hunt in the fourth quarter and guided the Syracuse offense on an 18-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a Norton field goal of 22 yards. The kick closed the scoring of the day with just under three minutes remaining.
Once again, Terrel Hunt was the ringleader for the Orange, totaling five touchdowns, including four through the air as part of a 16-for-21 passing performance that gained 175 yards. SU rolled up 205 yards on the ground as six different players toted the rock. Prince-Tyson Gulley led the group with 57 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts. Eleven different players caught at least one pass in the game, paced by Christopher Clark, who led SU with four catches for 60 yards and a score. Clay Cleveland had a career day, snagging a pair of touchdown passes.
The SU defense played a physical game, peppering Tulane quarterback Nick Montana throughout the contest. Cameron Lynch and Eric Crume each recorded a sack, while Lynch paced the team with nine tackles and Crume also blocked a punt. Julian Whigham had an interception in the game and Josh Kirkland and John Raymon split a sack.
The list of special teams playmakers in orange was not limited to Crume. Darius Kelly blocked a punt, Devante McFarlane recovered a fumble on special teams, and Raymon batted down a field goal attempt.
Syracuse is off next week before making their ACC debut when they welcome #3 Clemson to the Dome for homecoming. The Tigers (3-0, 1-0 ACC), who have knocked off a top-ten opponent in Georgia this season, host conference foe Wake Forest while SU is at rest. Kickoff time and television coverage have not been set at this time.