While it came with 2:20 left on the clock, Sean Tucker turning the corner and sprinting for a 25-yard touchdown run effectively iced a victory for #18 Syracuse. The score made it a two-touchdown game and the Orange (6-0, 3-0) held on from there for a 24-9 victory over #15 North Carolina State in front of a sellout crowd at the JMA Wireless Dome.
SU put together a handful of big plays, creating enough of a difference between themselves and the Wolfpack (5-2, 1-2) to claim victory in a mostly defensive-minded contest. The Syracuse defense held N.C. State to 255 total yards and, more impressively, 3.7 yards per play. The Orange nearly doubled the guests in that last statistical measure, posting 7.1 yards per play, thanks to 15 offensive plays that gained at least ten yards. The SU defense permitted just seven such plays, three coming on North Carolina State’s final drive.
Syracuse made it look like a potential blowout early, needing just five plays and a touch over two minutes to take a 7-0 lead on the first of two Garrett Shrader-to-Oronde Gadsden II touchdown connections. The 12-yard scoring pass and Andrew Szmyt extra point got the Orange crowd rocking.
The ‘Pack was able to strike back on their second possession, grinding out a 12-play, 48-yard drive for a field goal. SU matched that score, as Szmyt connected on a 22-yard chip shot to secure a 10-3 lead that lasted to intermission. Part of the reason the score held to the break was Shrader tossed a pair of interceptions deep in Wolfpack territory, including one in the end zone.
N.C. State clipped the margin to four again with a field goal following a nearly eight-minute drive to open the third quarter. SU responded with their own long drive and the second Gadsden touchdown, this one covering 17 yards. Szmyt’s extra point made it 17-6.
The Wolfpack responded with a drive that ate 9:30 off the clock and ended with yet another field goal, making it a one-score game at 17-9. Syracuse struck back with their own clock-eating drive capped by Tucker’s scoring burst that made it a two-touchdown game.