A quick take on Syracuse’s tough-to-swallow 40-37 overtime loss against No. 19 Wake Forest Saturday afternoon at the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a thrilling Syracuse desperation drive to tie the game in the final 2:00, Wake Forest got a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sam Hartman to A.T. Perry in overtime to stun the Orange and stay undefeated and match its best start (6-0) to any season since 1944. Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) had the ball first in OT, but Garrett Shrader was sacked on third down forcing an Andre Szymt field goal to go up 37-34. Wake’s OT possession resulted in a beautiful diving catch for the winning touchdown by A.T. Perry despite blanket coverage by Duce Chestnut, to get out of the Dome with the emotional victory. Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman and Shrader dueled throughout with Hartman and Perry combining for three scoring passes, and Shrader (198) and Sean Tucker (155) each rushing for over 100-yards in consecutive games, and collaborating on the clutch 28-yard touchdown pass to give SU a chance to win in the final minute of regulation. The Orange racked up 514 yards of offense overall in a losing cause.
ANALYSIS: It was another game that Syracuse played well enough to win, but couldn’t put enough sustained drives together in the fourth quarter or in its OT possession, and was victimized by two fourth quarter miscues. Andre Szmyt missed a 45-yard field goal that would have put the Orange up four points, then Cooper Lutz, in for a briefly shaken up Tucker, fumbled the ball back to Wake with 2:42 to play, although the SU defense held to give the Orange its final successful opportunity to tie the game. While the SU offensive play calling was on target in the first half, Wake Forest turned up its defensive pressure in the second half to limit SU to just two touchdowns after halftime and the OT field goal. The Syracuse defense played another strong game, but it gave Hartman one last shot to win in overtime and he delivered.
HERO: Wake Forest (6-0, 4-0) quarterback Hartman was cool and steady throughout bringing his team back from both halftime and fourth quarter deficits, and his touchdown throw (and catch by Perry) in OT was a thing of beauty. Hartman’s deep passing was crisp all game, earlier throwing for 46-yard and 69-yard touchdown passes to Perry, finishing 19-for-32 passing for 332-yards and three touchdowns.
ZERO: The Syracuse field goal and punting units continue to struggle. Szmyt’s wide left field goal was his third miss of the season with 7:13 to play, while punter James Williams struggled with an average of just 30-yards on his six kicks giving Wake Forest good field position on numerous occasions. Questionable game management situations hurt Syracuse in the second and fourth quarters. First, Dino Babers accepted a Wake Forest holding penalty that kept a drive alive and resulted in a Demon Deacons touchdown instead of a 51-yard field goal attempt, and then a crucial delay of game penalty on the conversion try after the clutch drive to tie the game, took away a chance to win in regulation with a two-point attempt instead of the PAT with 0:22 left.
WHAT’S NEXT: Can history repeat? Syracuse hosts Clemson in the Dome next Friday night, Oct. 15, and the last time SU faced the Tigers at home on a Friday night produced 2017’s thrilling 27-24 upset of the then-No. 2 ranked team. Clemson (3-2, 2-1) is uncharacteristically not ranked this week for the first time in seven years, and have the week off before heading to Syracuse. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN.