The wind, the wet, and the Wake Forest defense proved to be too much for Syracuse on Saturday night, as they dropped a 28-9 road game. On a night when heavy rain came down for the majority of the contest, the Orange offense could not move the ball with any consistency and the defense, while game, eventually gave up a backbreaking score in the fourth quarter.
SU (2-4, 0-2 ACC) gained a season-low 326 yards in the game and gave up five sacks on the night. On their 14 drives, they ended up punting ten times with eight of those coming after failing to generate a single first down. The Demon Deacons (5-1, 2-1) were not much better, but were able to stack up 21 first downs and also owned the field position battle, forcing the Orange to start their average drive inside their own 25 and face long fields most of the night.
Each team started the game with a three-and-out, but Wake’s was followed by their long snapper airmailing the ball over the punter’s head from their 40-yard-line. After a scramble, Ted Taylor nearly recovered for a Syracuse touchdown, but the Orange settled for a safety and a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes elapsed when the Deacons recovered in their own end zone.
A couple Demon Deacon possessions later saw the hosts have a first-and-goal inside the two and SU mustered a strong defensive stand in response, stuffing three runs before Jonathan Thomas ripped the ball out on fourth down for a fumble. Cordell Hudson eventually covered it in the end zone for a touchback with under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Wake, however, was successful on their next drive, cashing in with a touchdown just under four minutes into the second quarter to take their first lead at 7-2 when the extra point was good.
Midway through the second quarter, Eric Dungey scampered for 27 yards, the longest play for the Orange offense to that point, to get inside the Wake 30. A handful of plays later, Dontae Strickland carried the ball in from a yard out to cap a 10-play, 59-yard drive with a touchdown. Cole Murphy’s extra point kick was true, nudging Syracuse out to a 9-7 lead with 4:46 remaining in the first half.
Wake responded with a touchdown of their own to take the lead once more. The extra point was good for a 14-9 Demon Deacon lead with 1:43 on the clock.
With under 30 seconds left in the half, Strickland ripped off a 49–yard run to get to the Wake 12. Dungey, however, was picked off on the next play trying to find Steve Ishmael in the end zone, allowing Wake to take their lead into the break.
The second half was no better for the Orange offense, as their first three possessions were all three-and-outs. The second came after defensive end Jake Pickard intercepted a deflected pass and gave SU the ball at midfield, but they could do nothing with the ball.
Syracuse was able to string together a couple first downs early in the fourth quarter, but could move no farther than the Wake 36. Even from there, they were backed up by a pair of quarterback sacks.
The defense held up as long as they could, but the Demon Deacons eventually broke through for a backbreaking score. With just under four minutes left in the game, Wake capped a 78-yard drive with a touchdown, stretching their lead to 21-9.
Syracuse responded with their best drive of the half, but a Jordan Fredericks fumble was returned by Wake Forest 83 yards for a touchdown. The extra point made it 28-9 in favor of the hosts with 90 seconds left.
Eric Dungey completed 16-of-25 passes on the day for 156 yards while Dontae Strickland paced the ground game with 74 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown.
Parris Bennett led three SU players in double digits with a dozen tackles. Zaire Franklin had a sack as part of his ten stops. Jake Pickard had an interception while Cordell Hudson recovered a fumble that was forced by Jonathan Thomas.
The Orange continue ACC play next Saturday when they return home to play former Big East rival #25 Virginia Tech. The Hokies (4-1, 2-0 ACC) have won three straight games, including a 34-3 suffocation of #17 North Carolina on Saturday in which Tech only allowed 131 yards and forced four turnovers in their own bad weather game.
The former rivals rekindle their series at 3:45pm Eastern on Saturday from the Carrier Dome. ESPNU will televise the game, which will also be available online at ESPN3.com.