Frenetic comeback gives Syracuse football a victory

Caleb Okechukwu
Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu speaks to the media following SU's 32-29 win against the Purdue Boilermakers at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brad Bierman-The Juice Online.

It was just your average game with 19 combined points scored in the first three quarters and 42 scored in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Syracuse, they were able to rally after blowing a ten-point lead midway through the final quarter and escape with a 32-29 home win over Purdue.

The Orange (3-0) got a 46-yard touchdown on a short pass and run from Oronde Gadsden II on fourth-and-one shortly before the midpoint of the fourth to take the lead. Garrett Shrader ran in the two-point conversion for an 18-15 lead.

On the first Boilermaker play from scrimmage after that, Aidan O’Connell was trying to avoid a sack and threw a fluttering pass that Caleb Okechukwu intercepted and returned 17 yards for an SU touchdown. Andre Szmyt kicked the extra point for a 25-15 lead with 8:08 to play.

Purdue (1-2) struck back quickly with a long scoring pass to cut the lead to three, then missed a game-tying field goal from 41 yards with just under three minutes to play. The guests quickly forced a punt, then marched for a touchdown and a 29-25 lead with 51 seconds remaining.

However, a Boilermaker player was called for unsportsmanlike conduct on the field after the extra point, followed by their coach earning a similar flag. Syracuse started the ensuing drive at midfield, converted two third downs by picking up 25 yards on two additional Purdue penalties, then Shrader dropped a perfect pass to Gadsden for a 25-yard touchdown with seven seconds left. Szmyt’s extra point capped the scoring in the wild quarter, but the festivities were not over then.

Two more unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were assessed against the visitors, moving the kickoff to the Purdue 35. All it took after that was a very easy touchback on the kickoff and one tackle following a completed pass and lateral for the Orange to wrap up the game.

» Related: Former Syracuse LB ‘very optimistic’ following SU’s hot start

The bizarre final quarter was in sharp contrast to the remainder of the game. SU broke through first on a 50-yard field goal from Szmyt in the opening quarter. Purdue responded with a touchdown late in the first, but the extra point kick was blocked and Jason Simmons, Jr. nearly returned the ball all the way down the field for two Syracuse points, but he was tackled inside the Boilermaker 20.

Purdue pushed their lead to 9-3 on a field goal midway through the second. Szmyt pushed a 41-yard field goal attempt to the left with just over three minutes to play in the opening half. The six-point Boilermaker lead held until late in the third when Shrader connected with Isaiah Jones for a three-yard touchdown pass. Szmyt followed with the extra point to set the stage for the wild final quarter.

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About Jim Stechschulte 894 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. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by He currently resides in Syracuse.