The dam finally burst for the Syracuse offense on Saturday, as they rolled up 545 yards and three different players scored twice in a 52-33 victory over Western Michigan at the Carrier Dome. Tommy DeVito only reached the end zone once, but tossed a pair of touchdowns to both Trishton Jackson and Aaron Hackett while Moe Neal added two scores on the ground as the Orange (2-2) jumped out to an early lead on the Broncos (2-2) and pulled away late.
The SU defense was gashed for big gains early and often, but made several impact plays, including forcing four turnovers and collecting three sacks. While they permitted 557 yards, that Syracuse defensive unit rose to the challenge in the fourth quarter, ending the contest with three consecutive fourth down stops and an interception.
The Orange offense clicked early. Tommy DeVito jumpstarted things with a 60-yard run on the second play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Moe Neal carried the ball for a 23-yard touchdown and Andre Szmyt’s extra point made it SU 7-0 lead with under 100 seconds off the clock.
Abdul Adams would get the first SU turnover on special teams, recovering a muffed punt at the Broncos’ 17. Three plays later, DeVito shoveled the ball to Aaron Hackett for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Szmyt added he conversion for a 14-0 lead with 5:29 left in the opening quarter.
Syracuse got the ball back when Antwan Cordy forced a fumble and Christopher Fredrick recovered the ball for a touchback. The Orange then marched 80 yards in 11 plays for another touchdown. DeVito had the scoring honors, ripping off the final 36 yards on the ground for the score. Szmyt pushed the lead to 21 with the extra point just over two minutes into the second quarter.
Western Michigan got their offense in gear later in the second, scoring a pair of touchdowns. The Broncos were aided by a Moe Neal fumble between the two scores, but missed the extra point kick following the latter, leaving themselves in a 21-13 hole with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.
SU responded with a scoring drive, extending the lead to 24-13 when Szmyt snuck a 24-yard field goal from the left hash just inside the upright with 2:28 on the clock. That score held to the intermission.
After their defensive mates held to start the third quarter, the Syracuse offense struck with a big play to extend their lead. DeVito hit Trishton Jackson with a deep pass down the right side, hooking up on a 59-yard touchdown. Szmyt tacked on the extra point to push the lead to 31-13.
After a Broncos touchdown sliced the margin to 31-19, the guests failed on a two-point conversion. DeVito and Jackson promptly got the score back, as the receiver took a quick pass, cut past one tackler and stiff-armed away two other defenders as he took off on a 46-yard touchdown sprint. Szmyt’s conversion was true and the Orange were doubling up the guests, 38-19, at the midpoint of the third.
WMU once again benefited from an SU fumble between a pair of touchdowns, this one by Adams, to pull within 38-33 late in the third quarter.
After the Syracuse defense stopped the Broncos on a fourth-and-one on their first fourth quarter drive, their offensive mates quickly added a score to seize control. The Orange needed just five plays to go 41 yards, capping the drive when DeVito lofted a nine-yard touchdown pass to Hackett. Szmyt booted the kick through for a 45-33 lead with under nine minutes to go.
The SU defense stopped the next two Western Michigan fourth down tries and the offense tacked on an insurance score after the latter. The Orange took over just 27 yards from the end zone and needed four plays to eat up that real estate. Neal capped the drive with a 16-yard jaunt to the end zone and Szmyt’s extra point finished the scoring at 52-33 with just over three minutes to play.
Tommy DeVito had a big day, completing 27-of-35 passes for 287 yards with four touchdowns and added 85 yards on nine rushes, as well as another score. Trishton Jackson and Aaron Hackett each caught a half dozen passes and two touchdowns with Jackson amassing 141 yards. Moe Neal had 123 yards and two scores on 26 carries, leaving him five yards shy of 2,000 rushing yards in his Syracuse career.
Alton Robinson had a forced fumble to go with five quarterback hits and three tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks. Antwan Cordy also forced a fumble while Abdul Adams, Christopher Fredrick, and Kenneth Ruff each had a fumble recovery. Eric Coley had an interception while Lakiem Williams had a sack and Curtis Harper had a half sack.
SU will make it two consecutive 12:00pm Eastern starts on the ACC Network next Saturday when they host FCS opponent Holy Cross. The Crusaders fell to 1-2 on the season on Saturday when they lost at Yale, 23-10. The Orange will be Holy Cross’s second FBS foe this season, as they lost their opener at Navy, 45-7.