SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Saturday featured high highs and low lows for the Syracuse Orange football program. Syracuse has become a real threat but after another close loss, SU is still trying to find ways to win games against the ACC’s best.
Syracuse is now 3-3 after losing to Wake Forest 40-37 in overtime, but I think it’s safe to say now, the debate on who should be quarterback and what the identity of this offense should be has been answered.
Ironically, they involve the same answer.
Garrett Shrader, in his third start for Syracuse, became the third quarterback in program history to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games; joining Bill Hurley in 1979 and Eric Dungey in 2017. Shrader threw a game-tying touchdown to Sean Tucker to send things into overtime vs. The 19th best team in the country.
After settling for a field goal in OT, Sam Hartman threw his third touchdown pass of the game to A.T. Perry to break the hearts of Orange Nation for the second week in a row.
And also, for the second straight game, running back Sean Tucker joined Shrader with over a hundred yards rushing. And just like last week and the season finale at Notre Dame last season, Syracuse lost when doing so.
A crucial point in the game, and one that will be heavily debated over the coming days, came in the fourth quarter. Syracuse faced a 4th-and-2 deep into Wake Forest territory but elected to go with the former Lou Groza award winner Andre Szmyt and a 45-yard field goal attempt. Szmyt missed the FG and momentum went with Demon Deacons.
Hartman led an 11-play, 73-yard drive that lasted for 3 minutes, 45 seconds and resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run from Christian Beal-Smith. It gave Wake a 34-27 lead.
Though this was a game that began with injuries to the offensive line and other positions, Syracuse really showed their improved offensive gameplan and execution.
In the first quarter, after holding the Demon Deacons to a field goal, the offense came out on fire on their first drive. Shrader led an 8-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a Sean Tucker 6-yard touchdown.
Then on the first drive of the second quarter, Shrader took to the air on a perfectly dialed up play-action pass to Anthony Queeley from 24 yards out which gave the Orange a 14-3 lead.
That is when Wake Forest’s quarterback, Sam Hartman started to settle in. Hartman answered with a 46-yard touchdown pass to A.T. Perry on the ensuing drive, and then later in the half, plunged in on a one-yard QB sneak for the score.
The drive was aided by a controversial call from Dino Babers to accept a penalty on Wake which pushed the Demon Deacons back to try and convert a 3rd and 23 instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal. Wake Forest, thanks to only a three-man rush, was able to convert the 3rd and 23 on a 25-yard pass from Hartman to Jaquarii Roberson. The ensuing touchdown cut Syracuse’s lead to 21-17 at halftime.
The second half started like the first one ended. After a couple of failed drives and a Wake Forest field goal, Hartman continued to connect on the long ball. Hartman found Perry again, this time from 69 yards out. The TD gave the Demon Deacons the 26-21 lead after a failed two-point conversion.
Tucker got things rolling again for the ‘Cuse, wrapping up a 5-play, 75-yard drive with a 14 TD run, his second of the game. Tucker eclipsed the 100-yard marker for the fourth straight game. That is good for the second longest streak in SU’s history.
Shrader ran for 178 yards, threw for 160 more and had three total touchdowns. Tucker added 153 on the ground, ran for two touchdowns and added that game-tying reception in the fourth quarter.
Syracuse is now 3-3 and will host Clemson Friday, 7p.m. on ESPN.