Syracuse, N.Y. – A quick take on Syracuse’s exciting 32-29 victory against Purdue Saturday afternoon, in front of an enthusiastic announced Dome crowd of 35,943:
WHAT HAPPENED: Garrett Shrader connected with Oronde Gadsden II for a 25-yard touchdown pass with :07 to play to cap an incredible fourth quarter scoring onslaught, and keep the Orange unbeaten after three weeks of the season. Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw his third touchdown pass of the game with :51 left to bring the Boilermakers back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to lead 29-25, before the final SU drive aided by two Purdue penalties. In all, there were six fourth quarter touchdowns in the nearly four hour game, that finally ended with the delirious Orange fans going home happy.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse indeed opted to receive the football after winning the coin toss in an effort to jump out to a fast start, but the Orange went three and out gaining just four yards with two incomplete passes, and that set the tone for the first half with SU unable to move the chains and trailing 9-3. The ‘Cuse was a different team in the second half, and finally took its first lead in the third quarter, when Shrader hit Isaiah Jones with a 3-yard TD pass to go up 10-9, and in the wild fourth quarter Shrader found Gadsden on a 46-yard TD pass, and converted the two-point conversion with 8:17 to play. One play from scrimmage later Caleb Okechukwu intercepted an O’Connell pass and returned the ball 17-yards for a score to put SU up 25-15 with 8:08 to go, before Purdue again took the lead in the final minute, which in turn set up SU’s winning drive with Gadsden’s 25 yard clutch reception from Shrader.
HERO: While O’Connell was poised and polished throwing the football for 415 yards and three scores, Shrader was simply outstanding on the game-winning drive, while he constantly kept SU drives moving all afternoon with his feet rushing for 89-yards, and ended up 13-for-29 passing for 181-yards. Gadsden had a big game with a team-high six catches for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning grab.
ZERO: A win is a win, so the warts don’t look so ugly. The Syracuse defensive line’s inability to get any sort of constant pressure on O’Connell most of the day almost cost them the game, as he picked apart the Orange secondary on route to his 415 yard performance. The SU running game also struggled with Sean Tucker held to 52-yards on 18-carries. Andre Szmyt, after connecting on a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, shanked a 41-yard attempt in the second quarter. But the only important zero is the one in the loss column after three weeks of the season.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays the second of four straight home games hosting Virginia next Friday night, September 23. The game features Orange offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterback coach Jason Beck facing their former team after leaving UVA for SU last winter. The teams last met in 2015 in Charlottesville with the Cavaliers winning 44-38 in triple overtime. Virginia (2-1), at home, had to furiously rally in the final minute to edge Old Dominion Saturday 16-14, getting the game-winning field goal with no time remaining. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN.