A quick take on Syracuse’s 37-20 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: With 8:10 left in the fourth quarter and Syracuse leading 30-20, Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims was intercepted for a fourth time on the afternoon, this time by Ja’Had Carter. Carter appeared to be stopped midfield when he lateraled the ball to Trill Williams in a “no-no-no-YES! moment,” who returned it for a touchdown to give the Orange an insurmountable 37-20 lead. Syracuse never trailed, jumping out to an early 17-0 lead behind two first quarter touchdowns from Sean Tucker. The Orange finally was able to put points on the board after combining for just 16 points in opening season losses to UNC and Pittsburgh. It was also Syracuse’s first win in four tries against Georgia Tech in school history.
ANALYSIS: Credit the Orange for showing resiliency and mental toughness in its first win of the season. Georgia Tech had seized momentum with 1:29 left in the third quarter, pulling to within 23-20 after a touchdown. But SU immediately responded, with Tommy DeVito finally having enough time to unleash a perfectly thrown deep ball to Nykeim Johnson for a 43-yard strike. Syracuse’s defense also frequently bent, but did not break, led by emerging star linebacker Mikel Jones. While SU surrendered 449 yards, including a flurry of missed tackles, it also created stops when it needed, with four interceptions, a fumble, and a turnover on downs.
HERO: Syracuse appeared thin in the backfield after its top two running backs, Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams, opted out of the season. But the Orange may have found its preferred starting back, with Tucker rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns (he had 100 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns by the half). Johnson also nearly accounted for half of the team’s receiving yards (194), with four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.
ZERO: Syracuse was able to debut renovations to the Carrier Dome, with a new crown truss, air conditioning and a new scoreboard hung over midfield. But despite lobbying from Syracuse athletics director John Wildhack (a former ESPN executive), the game was not shown on traditional linear cable television, and fans needed to move over to online platforms to watch. Both Syracuse and Georgia Tech are projected to finish near the bottom of the ACC, so the game had little traction outside of Central New York and Georgia.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse gets a bye week before continuing its home stand against Duke on Oct. 10.