Lack of offense dooms Syracuse football in loss to NC State

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Syracuse head coach Dino Babers addresses the media during a post-game press conference. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse was late to return to action after its bye week, turning in a mostly listless performance until coming to life in the third quarter at North Carolina State.  The Orange could not salvage the night, though, suffering a 16-10 loss.  The Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1 ACC) took an early lead on to first quarter field goals and were not threatened until into the fourth quarter.

SU (3-3, 0-2) looked lost on offense all night, as quarterback Tommy DeVito was sacked eight times. The offensive line was also a culprit in the run game, as three different backs amassed 54 yards on 21 attempts, including 19 yards on 11 second half carries.

Perhaps most concerning was the action on the sideline as Syracuse players yelled at each other on multiple occasions as their frustration rose. Wide receiver Taj Harris spent a portion of the fourth quarter on the bench, sitting away from the team after appearing to be benched.

North Carolina State forced punts on the first three Orange possessions and cashed in the first pair by notching field goals for a 6-0 lead with a little over five minutes left in the opening quarter.

SU started to show some life, notching their initial first down late in the opening quarter.  They could not string anything together until the second quarter, but a pair of drives were undone by penalties and sacks.

The ‘Pack broke through shortly before half, getting a wide receiver pass for a touchdown just over a minute before halftime, stretching their lead to 13-0.

Syracuse responded with their best drive to that point, getting a big play when DeVito connected on a third-down bomb to Trishton Jackson for 52 yards. The Orange settled for a 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the opening half, but Andre Szmyt’s kick hit the upright and fell into the end zone.

The SU defense made a pair of big plays in the third quarter to keep the game close.Andrew Armstrong made an interception after Curtis Harper deflected a screen pass to end the first N.C. State drive of the half. Scoop Bradshaw prevented a touchdown on the next Wolfpack drive when he stripped the ball away from a receiver in the end zone. That drive still resulted points as a field goal pushed the hosts’ lead to 16-0 with just over four minutes left in the third.

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Syracuse got on the board on their next possession. DeVito hooked up with Taj Harris for a 36-yard completion to get into Wolfpack territory and Szmyt eventually capped the drive with a 32-yard field goal to make it a 16-3 game headed to the fourth quarter.

After their defensive mates forced a three-and-out, the Orange offense drove deep, but came up empty when Cameron Jordan drew an illegal touching penalty after stepping out of bounds on a fourth down pass into the end zone.

SU’s next drive did result in points, as they moved 90 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. The drive was helped by a pair of third down pass interference calls against N.C. State, the latter coming in the end zone to move the ball to the two-yard-line. DeVito zipped a quick slant to Jackson on the next play for the score and Szmyt’s extra point made it 16- 10 with three minutes on the clock.

Once more, the Orange defense forced a three-and-out, using their timeouts to preserve as much time as possible. Syracuse took over at their 24 with 1:48 to play.

Three plays into the drive, the Orange were across the midfield stripe. Things melted down shortly after, though, as SU gave up a sack and committed a pair of penalties that required ten-second run-offs, the latter one ending the game.

Tommy DeVito was 29-for-39 though the air for 300 yards with a touchdown. One again, Trishton Jackson was his top target, catching nine passes for 106 yards and a score.

Andrew Armstrong had a strong night, finishing with 14 tackles and an interception. Brandon Berry and Tyrell Richards each recorded a sack while Curtis Harper and Kenyon Coleman split one.

Syracuse returns home for their next game, as they will take on Pittsburgh next Friday night. The Panthers (4-2, 1-0) have won their last three games by a total of seven points prior to being off this weekend. Wide receivers Maurice Ffrench and Taysir Mack are the top threats for Pitt, having combined for 91 receptions for 907 yards with four touchdowns on the season.

Kickoff for Friday night’s contest is slated for 7:00pm Eastern. The game will be televised by ESPN.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 566 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.