Injuries, mistakes and malaise doom Syracuse to fifth straight loss

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Syracuse head coach Dino Babers speaks with reporters following the Orange's 27-23 loss to Clemson. Mandatory Photo Credit: The Juice Online, Mark Turcotte.

Syracuse held a 21-10 lead midway through the second quarter, but the wheels came off as Wake Forest scored 35 straight points, which proved to be enough for a 45-35 win Saturday night. It marked the fifth consecutive loss for the Orange (6-5, 3-4 ACC) while the Demon Deacons (7-4, 3-4) halted a three-game slide.

The game seemed to turn with SU holding a 21-17 lead late in the second quarter. Facing a 2nd-and-6 at the Wake Forest 11, Garrett Shrader was sacked on consecutive plays, losing 23 yards. Andre Szmyt left a 52-yard field goal try short and the Deacons converted their ensuing drive inro a touchdown and a halftime lead.

While Wake did not score on the opening possession of the second half, they did tack a touchdown onto their side on each of their next two drives to make it a three-possession game at 38-21. Two plays later, the Demon Deacons returned an interception for a 45-21 lead with 12:30 left.

Sean Tucker gave Syracuse the lead twice early, once with a nine-yard touchdown run to cap the game’s first drive, then with a two-yard score three-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter for a 14-10 lead. Tucker’s backup, LeQuint Allen, extended that lead on the next Orange drive by completing a 33-yard touchdown pass to DeVaughn Cooper. The extra point pushed the lead to 21-10.

SU did not break through for another score until there were ten minutes to play when Allen scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Shrader. Shrader added another touchdown with his legs, an eight-yard run, on the next Syracuse drive, pulling them within 45-35 with 5:13 left.

The Orange got the ball one more time, opting for a Szmyt field goal attempt from 34 yards out to set up a potential onside kick and miracle touchdown pass, but the kicker slipped on his approach and missed badly, giving the ball to Wake Forest with four seconds left.

QUICK HITS

  • Mikel Jones left the game with an injury in the first quarter, severely hampering the Orange defense. Marlowe Wax picked up the slack with 13 tackles while Anwar Sparrow had a dozen and Alijah Clark 11. Caleb Okechukwu tallied 1.5 sacks while Jatius Geer and Justin Barron
    Each had one and Leon Lowery was credited with half a sack. Geer also forced a fumble in the game.
  • Sean Tucker had his most productive outing since the Wagner game, notching 106 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tucker had five carries over ten yards, including a 39-yard dash that set up Garrett Shrader’s rushing touchdown.
  • Speaking of Shrader, he also had a fairly strong game, completing 17-of-31 passes for 324 yards with a touchdown and an interception. On the interception, Shrader’s arm was hit by a defender on the release, sending it off-target. Shrader also had a 45-yard touchdown pass to D’Marcus Adams wiped out by a holding call in first quarter.
  • The Syracuse offensive effort (479 total yards, 7.9 yards per play) was a strong one, especially considering three starting offensive linemen did not travel for the game. Tackle Matthew Bergeron and guards Chris Bleich and Kalan Ellis all missed the contest.
  • Wake Forest churned out 36 first downs with a machine-like offensive attack, including going 8-of-15 on third down. On eight of those opportunities, they only had to gain four or fewer yards and did so five times. They also had two scoring drives where they did not face third down at all.
  • The Orange were brutal on offense in the third quarter, gaining 20 yards on nine plays. A botched direct snap to LeQuint Allen ended up as a 13-yard loss and an intentional grounding penalty cost ten more yards, offsetting runs of 11 and 18 yards, as well as a reception for 13.
  • Oronde Gadsden II was a major beneficiary of Shrader’s return to form, grabbing six passes for 85 yards. Three of receivers each caught a pass for more than 40 yards – D’Marcus Adams (44), Damien Alford (43), and Allen (41).

» Related: Syracuse picks up commitment from 2024 WR Syair Torrence

WHAT’S NEXT

Syracuse will close their schedule next Saturday at Boston College in the 56th all-time matchup between the two schools. The Eagles (3-8, 2-5 ACC) have dropped five of their last six games heading into their matchup with the Orange (6-4, 3-3), including a 44-0 shutout at the hands of Notre Dame on Saturday.

Wide receiver Zay Flowers will likely be a handful for the SU defense, having amassed 70 receptions for 967 yards and ten scores on the season. Emmett Morehead took over the starting quarterback spot for Boston College at the beginning of November and threw for seven touchdowns and two interceptions in two games before tossing three picks against the Fighting Irish.

The season finale between Syracuse and BC will get underway at 7:30pm Eastern and will be televised by regional sports networks.

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About Jim Stechschulte 861 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 NBA.com. He currently resides in Syracuse.