A quick take on Syracuse’s impressive effort in its 52-33 win over relentless Western Michigan at the Dome Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange snapped a modest two game losing streak by holding off their MAC Conference visitors, but it wasn’t easy. The SU offense dialed up just enough points in all four quarters, and the defense bent often against the offensively explosive Broncos, but made keys stops when needed, the biggest of which occurred with 10:18 left in the fourth quarter. SU stopped WMU on a 4th and 1 play at the Broncos 41, and promptly drove down the field five plays later to score its sixth touchdown of the day to help seal the victory.
ANALYSIS: The afternoon turned out to be one in which each team scored points off turnovers – Syracuse (2-2) in the first half, Western Michigan (2-2) in the second half, as neither team could seemingly stop the other until the ‘Cuse finally put the clamps on the Broncs in the fourth quarter. It was the game Orange Nation has been waiting for from Tommy DeVito, both in the air and on the ground, leading SU to its seven touchdowns, with a career-high four TD passes to go along with a beautiful rushing touchdown to boot. Moe Neal had a sharp game running the football finishing with 123 yards and two scores. The SU defense stopped the Broncos on downs on their three possessions in the fourth quarter before the final SU touchdown with 3:04 to play.
HERO: It was a game to grow for sophomore DeVito both in command of running the offense, and himself running the ball on a couple of perfectly executed first half plays, including the 36 yard run to the end zone untouched in the second quarter. DeVito finished 27-of-35 for 287 yards in the air with the two long touchdown beauties (59 and 46 yards) to Trishton Jackson, and two other scoring tosses to tight end Aaron Hackett who had a breakout game with six catches. Alton Robinson was all over the WMU backfield all afternoon, in on six tackles and with one sack, and along with punter Sterling Hofrichter, who had five booming punts for a 44 yard average and constantly changed field position, had to make strong impressions on NFL scouts in attendance.
ZERO: It’s become a chronic Dino Babers complaint; sloppy football. Whether that’s missed tackles, as his defensive players were flailing after Western Michigan’s suburb tailback LeVante Bellamy (165 yards, with two long touchdown runs) at times, or penalties (11 for 103 lost yards) to stop momentum. The Orange secondary, playing minus injured starters Andre Cisco and Iffy Melifonwu, had an up and down performance when the game was still competitive, but were aided by the early injury to WMU dual-threat standout D’Wayne Eskridge.
WHAT’S NEXT: The annual match-up against an FCS team, this year it’s Holy Cross traveling to the Dome next Saturday Sept. 28. SU and the Crusaders used to face each other quite often (21 games) during the Ben Schwartzwalder era, the last meeting occurring in Coach Ben’s last season – 1973. Holy Cross (1-2) lost at Yale 23-10 Saturday afternoon. Game Time: 12:00 p.m. ET. TV: ACCN.