A quick take on Syracuse’s satisfyingly sweet 21-6 win Saturday afternoon against Boston College on Homecoming weekend in the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Hosting Boston College for the third straight year, Syracuse (5-4, 2-3) won its all-important fifth game of the season with a second half comeback, to inch one win away from bowl eligibility and also ended a two-year losing streak to the Eagles. Three explosive touchdown plays in under 5:00 changed the momentum in the third quarter, as it took the ‘Cuse offense a while to get going. Sean Tucker scored on a 51-yard run, Garrett Shrader scampered in from 48-yards on the next series, and Courtney Jackson, filling in for an injured Trebor Pena, returned a punt for a 64-yard score on the next BC series. The SU defense was strong throughout not allowing Boston College (4-4, 0-4) into the end zone.
ANALYSIS: Down 6-0 on Syracuse’s first possession of the third quarter, Shrader expertly executed the beginning of the comeback with a couple of nice runs to set up Tucker’s 51-yard scamper for the lead SU would not relinquish. A key block by tight end Max Mang set up Shrader’s touchdown run (his 13th of the season), then Jackson provided a rare special teams highlight this season with the punt return to the house. The Orange defense was strong, especially against the run (just 71-yards by BC), harassing Eagles quarterbacks Dennis Grosel and Emmett Morehead into a combined 15-for-32 passing with four sacks. Tucker remained the nation’s leader in rushing yards (1,267) going for 207 yards on 26 carries before exiting to an ovation with just under 3:00 to play.
HERO: A salute to the Syracuse defensive which did not give up a touchdown and played inspired all afternoon. A great stop of the Eagles on 4th and 1 at the goal line with 4:13 to play served as the icing on the cake. Despite some secondary lapses that resulted in a few long BC pass completions including plays for 40 and 44-yards, the pass rush was ferocious led by Kingsley Jonathan’s three sacks. Linebackers Marlowe Wax, Mikel Jones, Stefon Thompson, and Geoff Cantin-Arku combined for 15 solo tackles, and cornerback Garrett Williams was all over the field with a game-high six solo tackles, in on seven stops total.
ZERO: Despite the victory that puts the Orange in terrific position to record a winning season and get to a bowl game, self-inflicted errors continue to crop up this deep into the season. The offense overcame Shrader’s first quarter fumble on the BC 3-yard line that likely prevented a touchdown, four false start penalties stymied several first half drives, along with a couple of dropped passes by the wide receivers. Syracuse needs to play smart football in November’s home stretch.
WHAT’S NEXT: A much appreciated weekend off. After playing nine consecutive weeks dating back to Sept. 4, Syracuse players and the program’s staff have some time to regroup and take a few days off before the final three November regular season games. The next opponent, Louisville (4-4, 2-3), lost 28-13 at North Carolina State on Saturday evening. UL hosts Clemson next week, Nov. 6, before welcoming Syracuse to Cardinal Stadium for the third consecutive season on Nov. 13. Game Time/TV: To be announced on Nov. 1.