Instant Juice: Syracuse 27, Clemson 37

Reserve quarterback Zack Mahoney struggled to help SU score points


Reserve quarterrback Zack Mahoney was gutsy in leading the Orange in its upset bid of No. 1 Clemson Saturday night.
Reserve quarterback Zack Mahoney (16) was gutsy in leading the Orange in its upset bid of No. 1 Clemson Saturday night (Kicia Sears – The Juice).

A quick take on Syracuse’s 37-27 defeat to No. 1 ranked Clemson Saturday evening, a great effort for a monumental upset that came up short, in front of a noisy Dome crowd in the penultimate home game of the season:

WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse dropped its seventh straight game, the longest losing streak since SU lost nine consecutive games in 2005, but not without a fight. After falling behind 14-0 less than two minutes into the game, the ‘Cuse couldn’t contain Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson on a critical drive in the fourth quarter with CU nursing a seven point lead, that ended with the third Tigers field goal of the day, and that proved to be the difference in the game.  Reserve Orange quarterback Zack Mahoney was valiant in guiding SU back to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, running for two scores in masterfully directing the option offense, before the final Clemson field goal put the game out of reach.

ANALYSIS: With the sophomore Mahoney struggling in the passing game, (8 of 21 for 80 yards), he did keep the Clemson ‘D’ off keel with his mix of running and passing in the second half to being the Orange back to within seven going into the fourth quarter, while the Orange defense was respectable in stopping the run, but as has been a season-long pattern, struggled in the pass defense giving up 360 yards in the air to the Tigers magnificent Watson.

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HERO:Clemson sophomore quarterback Watson showed why he’s a Heisman Trophy contender, at one point throwing 12 consecutive completions in the first half finishing 34 of 47 through the air with 360 yards and two scoring passes, while also dazzling with his legs rushing for 88 yards. Tigers kicker Greg Huegel was clutch with three field goals, including a 42 yarder, to help keep SU at bay.

ZERO: Too much space in coverage by the Orange secondary allowed Watson to find numerous receivers on the seven Clemson scoring drives, with Artavis Scott, Charone Peake and Deon Cain combining for 23 receptions and two touchdowns to pace the Tigers offense.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays its final road game of the season next Saturday, Nov. 21 at North Carolina State.  Two seasons back the Orange finally beat N.C. State after going 0-6 all-time, winning at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh 24-10, last year in the Dome NCSU prevailed 24-17.  The Wolfpack (6-4, 2-4) fell at Florida State earlier Sat. afternoon 34-17.  Game Time: 12:30 p.m. ET / TV: ACCN-ESPN3.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.