Syracuse 41, Holy Cross 3 — Three Things We Learned

Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt attempts a field goal
Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt attempts a field goal. Manadatory Photo Credit: Mark Konezny, USA Today Sports.

Syracuse continued to gain momentum Saturday afternoon, topping Holy Cross 41-3 before seven straight ACC games. Here are three things we learned from the game.

DEFENSE STYMIES HOLY CROSS

Syracuse’s defense put in another solid performance against a much less potent offense. While Holy Cross came into Saturday afternoon only averaging 10 points in its first three games, Syracuse’s defense still put on a great show, holding them to a mere 138 total offensive yards and zero touchdowns.

“I thought our defense was fantastic,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “Obviously not giving up a touchdown in a college football game is a big deal.”

Not only would they not let up a touchdown, Syracuse also completely shut down the rushing attack. Just 8 of the Crusaders 138 yards were on the ground, finishing the day with a paltry .6 yards per carry attempt. Holy Cross would score their only points off of a 47 field goal with 12:47 in the second quarter after a drive that only went 28 yards.

THE OFFENSE HAD SOME HICCUPS

Syracuse’s offense struggled at times, but overall played well enough to outmatch Holy Cross. After putting up 17 points in the first quarter, the Orange offense sputtered, and was forced to put on four consecutive possessions.

But SU managed to score at least a touchdown in every quarter, and two consecutive touchdown drives to end the third quarter and start the fourth led to the Orange putting up over 40 points for the second straight game.

“I thought our offense did some things well in the first half,” Babers said. “I thought we were really clicking in the first quarter, slowed down a little in the second. Obviously in the second half, the three turnovers were a little bit of a downer but overall I thought it was a really good game.”

» Related: DeVito throws four touchdowns before exiting in Syracuse win

Biggest areas of concern for the Syracuse offense were the turnovers, their third down efficiency (5-16) and DeVito exiting the game early after an apparent arm injury.

The injury seemed to happen during the fourth quarter. On the second down of that drive, DeVito was chased from the pocket and threw a stiff arm on a defender, before falling forward for a yard.

On the next play, DeVito severely underthrew Trishton Jackson on a deep route and the pass was easily intercepted. DeVito winced as he walked to the sideline, and gestured toward his right arm. That was his final throw of the afternoon, and later, he jogged toward the locker room without pads, visibly frustrated.

“I saw [DeVito], he gave me the thumbs up and we have to wait and see what the doctor says,” Babers said.

DeVito finished the day 19 for 31, with 269 yards and four touchdowns.

SPECIAL TEAMS SHINES

Syracuse forced a turnover for the 19th straight game, continuing a streak that ranks third in the FBS.

On SU’s first punt of the day, long snapper Aaron Bolinsky forced a fumble and Tyrell Richards recovered to set up Syracuse with excellent field position on Holy Cross’ 17 yard line.

The Orange wasted no time capitalizing, with Tommy DeVito connecting with Jackson for Jackson’s fifth touchdown of the season.

The special teams didn’t stop there. Sean Riley returned a punt for 34 yards in the third quarter to setup Syracuse  at Holy Cross’ 27-yard line. Several plays later, an Andre Szymt field goal put the Orange up 27-3.

“There were some really good things done on special teams,” Babers said.

Punter Sterling Hoffrichter also got involved, but this time as a place kicker. He nailed a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter, surpassing his previous long of 38 yards against NC State in 2017.

“Sterling has the strongest leg on the team,” Babers said. “Andre has the most accurate leg I’ve ever seen. It was just one of those kicks where we thought, can Andre get it there? We know Sterling can get it there so we just went with Sterling. He practices that all the time.”

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