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Orange Rolling the Wrong Way Since Historic Win

Posted on November 19, 2017 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  Making a stop...

  Getting into the end zone...

  Watching the clock wind down to all zeroes...

  Rushing the field...

  That moment when the Syracuse Orange football squad defeated reigning national champion and the then #2 nationally-ranked Clemson Tigers seems far away in the distance of our memories.

  Since that wondrous glimmer of hope in a tumultuous recent history of Syracuse football, there has been little to want to recall and keep top of mind.

  The Orange have lost four straight since their defeat of the "big bad wolf", blowing down the house that held any chance of attaining a bowl berth this season.

  After holding Clemson to 24 points, Syracuse's defense has allowed their foes no fewer than 27 points and have given up as many as 64 and 56 points in their last two outings, respectively, leaving their defense resembling more of the unit that allowed a basketball game to play out at the end of the 2016 season versus the Pittsburgh Panthers than of that which halted a reigning champion in the middle of this season.

  Syracuse followed up a week in which they gave up 734 yards of total offense to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons by allowing 727 yards to the Louisville Cardinals most recently. That means that in the last two weeks of play, the Orange have given just two of their opponents a combined 1,461 yards of total offense.

  In the nine games prior, the Orange defense has allowed these totals: 167 yards (Central Connecticut State Blue Demons), 363 yards (Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders), 382 yards (Central Michigan Chippewas), 414 yards (LSU Tigers), 462 yards (N.C. State Wolfpack), 358 yards (Pittsburgh Panthers), 317 yards (Clemson Tigers), 480 yards (Miami Hurricanes), and 343 yards (Florida State Seminoles). 

  Therefore, on average over 11 games this season, Syracuse's defense is allowing 431.5 yards per game to their opponents. The national leader in yards allowed per game, the Wisconsin Badgers, are giving up 246.4 yards per game, meaning that Syracuse is allowing just shy of 200 yards per game above the nation's leading defense.

  Even tougher to swallow is that the national average among 130 Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdvision, or FBS) teams in yards allowed per game this season is 399.8, leaving Syracuse's defense 31+ yards over the national average.

  No matter how many points your offense may score, your defense has to prevent other teams from moving the ball downfield, something the Orange are not doing, as they head into their final game of the regular season ranked 111th out of 130 FBS teams in yards allowed per game.

  Adding injury to insult, Syracuse has had to play the last two games without their starting quarterback, junior Eric Dungey.

  Despite a three-touchdown start in the first two quarters with backup quarterback, senior Zack Mahoney, at the helm of the offense, the Orange have gone quiet offensively. In their last six quarters of play, beginning in the third quarter of the Wake Forest game and ending in the fourth quarter of the Louisville game, the Syracuse offense has amounted 13 points in 90 minutes of play.

  Including their Week-11 loss, the team has not won a single road contest this season in five tries, falling to LSU, N.C. State, Miami, Florida State, and Louisville, respectively.

  Against LSU, N.C. State, Miami, and Florida State, Syracuse fought to make a second-half comeback to remain in games where they started without momentum, but one half of play did not cut it.

  Versus Louisville, Syracuse appeared to be out of the game from almost the moment the first whistle was blown.

  What once was an above par season at 4-3 following the victory over the Tigers, needing a mere two wins in their final five games of the regular season in order to become bowl eligible, has now become an 0-4 spiral downward to last place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Atlantic Division and another season without a bowl berth.

  Syracuse's last trip to the postseason came at the end of the 2013 season, Scott Shafer's first season as the team's head coach.

  Babers, currently in his second season, will not be heading to a bowl berth now in back-to-back opportunities with the Orange.

  The team that once took down Clemson has since only taken down themselves.

  A win over the reigning national champion without a bowl berth leaves the Orange looking like a Cinderella story, a moment where everything just clicked, as opposed to a team that has replaced their glass slippers with cleats.

Coach Speak: What Bobby Petrino is Saying Before Syracuse

Posted on November 18, 2017 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Louisville Cardinals have tripped and tumbled down to the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Atlantic Division this season, but they have since risen up.

  In their four losses this season, Louisville has given up no less than 39 points, and over 40 points in three of those four games.

  But, the Cardinals have found their wings late here in the season to rise above the bleak bottom of the division, achieving a road win over the Florida State Seminoles and at home versus the Virginia Cavaliers most recently.

  Those two victories have gotten Louisville to bowl eligibility at 6-4, relieving some pressure with two games to play.

  Their next match-up pits them against the Syracuse Orange and their head coach Dino Babers.

  The Bobby Petrino-led Cardinals' first game versus the Babers-led Orange resulted in a 62-28 win last season for the Cardinals.

  Despite that convincing victory, Petrino has found respect for what Babers is working to do with the Orange. "He's a great coach," said Petrino. "He's got a philosophy about going fast, and they stick to it and do it really well. They are going to challenge our conditioning and challenge our ability to get lined up quickly."

  Switching focus to his offense and his quarterback, junior and reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, Petrino discussed whether seeing Wake Forest Demon Deacons' quarterback John Wolford gaining 363 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to go with 136 rushing yards and three touchdowns versus Syracuse showed an advantage for Jackson in their upcoming game against the Orange. "I don't know about that because it seems like all year long that people have come in with a different game plan than they have utilized for Lamar," Petrino offered. "So we have to be able to recognize it and adjust and see the different things that they are going to try to do."

  "Lamar has been very good at it," Petrino shared on his quarterback reacting to defenses trying to stop him. "He does a nice job of really understanding the fronts and coverages and who they are trying to pressure with. It's just a situation where we need to be aggressive early and we will have to make some adjustments as the game goes on."

Coach Speak: What Dino Babers is Saying Before Louisville

Posted on November 17, 2017 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange are coming off of one of the most emotionally draining losses a player may go through in their career, to have a substantial lead and watch it dwindle down to not only nothing, but rather build up to a more-than-substantial loss.

  Syracuse was ahead by as many as 17 points against the visiting Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Atlantic Division rival, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and concluded behind 21 points in a 38-point swing in Week 11 of the 2017 college football season.

  Following the 38-point swing, Dino Babers, in his second season as head coach of the team stated, "Obviously we're hurt, a little embarrassed. I don't think that's a true representation of how our defense has played this year. I throw it beneath the happening category and hopefully we're gonna play a lot better versus an even more explosive offense than what we faced against Wake Forest."

  The Orange allowed 734 yards of total offense to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons a game ago, which included over 360 yards given up in the passing (363 yards) as well as in the rushing game (371 yards).

  Against an offense built on getting to the line quickly and running a play and then doing that over and over again to hurry up the pressure on the defense to get set and ready for whatever can be throw at them, Syracuse was outplayed by Wake Forest.

  It turns out the taste of their own medicine was sour.

  Demon Deacons' quarterback John Wolford scored three touchdowns through the air and three on the ground versus the Orange, and the present to the Orange after losing so much ground against Wolford is to head on the road to face one of the best in the business at being a dual-threat quarterback, Louisville Cardinals' junior Lamar Jackson.

  Giving up six total touchdowns to Wolford creates the very tangible notion that Jackson should then score eight to 10 touchdowns of his own versus Syracuse.

  Last season, Babers first at the helm of the Orange, the team gave up just shy of 200 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground to Jackson, to go with one given up through the air by Jackson, in a 62-28 loss.

  But, Syracuse has a dual-threat quarterback as well in fellow junior Eric Dungey.

  Well, kind of.

  Dungey has been a saving grace for the team, but he did not play against Wake Forest and is listed officially as questionable for this match-up with the Cardinals.

  In the event that he does not play, backup quarterback and senior Zack Mahoney would take the reins of the offense for the second week in a row.

  Looking at Mahoney's play versus the Demon Deacons, Babers offered, "You can look at that first half and you see what Zack is capable of doing." In the first half versus Wake Forest, Mahoney threw for 297 yards, completing 22 of his 35 attempts, with three passing touchdowns and no interceptions.

  "He's got a Pittsburgh game from last year," Babers went on to say. "He's got the first half of the Wake Forest game this year. Obviously when he's on we're capable of scoring a lot of points with him." Against the Pittsburgh Panthers last season, in a game that resembled more of a basketball score than a football result, Mahoney completed 43 of his 61 pass attempts for 440 yards, with five touchdowns to one interception.

  "Now you can flip that around and say the second half of the Wake Forest game, we only scored three points with him, so hopefully we get first-half Zack and not second-half Zack." Mahoney was 11-for-25 in the second half versus Wake Forest. with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

  Turning the focus onto himself, Babers replied to what he learned from the 38-point that ended in a loss for the Orange by saying, "Well I think the biggest thing is that we have to find a situation to play more people. We're playing the same guys over and over again. They're getting banged up and they're starting to look different, not only on the football field, but on tape."

  "We've gotta get more people in there, especially when you don't have the depth that we have on our football team. When you got the amount of snaps that you're playing offensively and defensively, you gotta find a way to rotate that stuff in there, rotate those guys in there, so that at the end of the game you can have your best players fresh." 

Syracuse Rides Tyus Battle's Stellar Performance to 2nd Win of Season

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  With only sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle, junior point guard Frank Howard, and junior center Paschal Chukwu having played in a game together for the Syracuse Orange last season, the expectations are wide open and the evidence of who they will be is anything but clear.

  What is known is that the Orange bonded together with three returning players, a redshirt-freshman, four true freshmen, and a graduate transfer to win their first contest by more than 30, defeating the Cornell Big Red and head coach Jim Boeheim's son, Jimmy Boeheim in their first collegiate game against one another, 77-45.

  Early on in this contest, two things happened on the interior that were lacking in Game 1: 1. Syracuse looked inside and fed the ball into the paint and 2. Chukwu got involved offensively.

  Chukwu had two dunks within the first few minutes of the game, already out-scoring himself from the game prior, where he had two points in 20 minutes.

  Aftering going scoreless on their first three possessions, the Orange followed by going 3-for-3 from the field.

  Just as on the first six possessions, however, Syracuse would struggle with consistency on offense, while allowing Iona to gain confidence on offense.

  The Gaels would steal away the Orange lead when they elevated to a 15-13 score by taking advantage of a quiet Syracuse offense that scored a mere four points in over six minutes. Junior guard Rickey McGill's three-pointer at the 10:01 mark of the first half capped off a 10-4 run by Iona to gain the lead.

  Syracuse and Iona would immediately trade the lead back-and-forth before the Orange took it away on a layup by Howard that made it 18-17 with 8:08 to play before the break. The Orange would hold onto the lead for the remainder of the first half, but not without the Gaels keeping it interesting, as the Gaels came within four points on multiple occasions, then within two, and even within one.

  At the half, the Orange led by a mere two possessions, 32-28.

  After turning the ball over to begin the second half, Brissett came right back on the next possession for the Orange with a jumper.

  But Syracuse struggled to fend off a fesity Iona squad from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

  McGill's three-pointer at the 17:23 mark of the second half brought the game within two for Iona, 36-34. The Gaels would be behind by no more than two possessions for over seven minutes to follow, playing as close as within one during the timespan of the 17:23 mark to 10:19 left in the game.

  Iona would stay within two possessions of Syracuse for 13 minutes and 23 seconds of the 20-minute second half.

  Close, but never in the lead.

  Syracuse can thank Battle for that. In the second half alone, Battle went 9-for-13 for 23 points. He was 2-for-6 in the first half, amounting five points, giving him 28 points in 35 minutes played in the game on 11-for-19 shooting from the field.

  Battle would add five rebounds (four defensive and one offensive), three assists, one block, and one steal to his stellar performance, while committing only one foul and not a single turnover.

  The Orange got out to a double-digit lead on more than one occasion late in the game and eventually won by nine, 71-62, to improve to 2-0 on the season, both wins coming at home.

Jaguars' Defense is the Best Offense, Team Claws to OT Win

Posted on November 12, 2017 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Jacksonville Jaguars walked onto EverBank Field looking to build some momentum at home after getting their first win in three attempts this season inside familiar walls, when they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals a week before.

  Their defense shut down Los Angeles Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers and the visiting squad in the first quarter and their trickery got them on the board when running back Corey Grant took a direct snap on a fake punt play that Grant took 58 yards into glory territory.

  Remember, this play debuted for the Jaguars when they faced the Baltimore Ravens in London in Week 3, and the direct snap went to Grant then as well.

  The Jacksonville defense continued to impress when, inside seven minutes before halftime, they tipped back-to-back pass attempts by Rivers, the first by nose tackle Abry Jones and the one to follow by cornerback Aaron Colvin, who was in motion behind the defensive line, coming around the right side of the Chargers' offensive line for the block. These blocks led to Los Angeles' punt to Jacksonville, with Jacksonville still holding the shutout, 6-0.

  But notable defensive plays need to be capitalized on, something the Jaguars did not do, as they went no where but backward on the drive and punted the ball right back.

  On the Chargers' following drive, wide receiver Tyrell Williams got away from coverage and Rivers beamed it downfield, putting the ball right at the chest of Williams, but Williams did not grab possession at the end zone, missing out on a pass-play that looked to be the Chargers' first score.

  Rivers would remain focused to follow, throwing to wide receiver Keenan Allen on 3rd-&-12, who reeled it in for a 17-yard gain and a new set of downs. Two plays later, running back Austin Ekeler took a short pass attempt by Rivers into the end zone from 28 yards away, getting hit by the right sideline, weathering the blow, and keeping his balance, remaining in and tight-roping down the sideline to give Los Angeles their first lead and first points of the game.

  The Chargers would take their 7-6 advantage over the Jaguars in Jacksonville into the locker room for the break. This scoring drive came after five straight punts by Los Angeles to open the game.

   Los Angeles came into the second half stopping Jacksonville on their first drive of the third quarter and then scoring once again, on a similar play as before, where Ekeler caught a short pass from Rivers on the right side of the field and took it 20+ yards into paydirt, this one a 22-yard scoring play.

  Down 14-6, the Jaguars went for it on fourth down shortly after wide receiver Keelan Cole caught a pass from Bortles that resulted in a 36-yard gain, but came up with nothing on a pass thrown too high by Bortles, giving the ball back to the Chargers at the Chargers' 35-yard line.

  Jacksonville would force Los Angeles to punt it back as the defense gave the offense yet another opportunity to take advantage.

  And they did.

  Bortles went 7-for-11 on a late thrid-quarter drive where the Jaguars did not run the ball a single time. The final pass of the drive was off of a fake hand-off where Bortles rolled out right and sent the ball to wide receiver Marqise Lee who stay inbounds for the touchdown for the six-yard score.

  Down 14-12, Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone elected to go for the two-point conversion instead of the extra point. On this play, Bortles went right back to Lee who turned around in the end zone and came forward to receive the pass and fall in the end zone with the game-tying play, mkaing it 14-14 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.

  The Jaguars' defense followed their game-tying drive by forcing the Chargers to punt for the seventh time in nine possessions, giving the Jacksonville offense the ball back and an opportunity to regain the lead with 14:50 to go in the game.

  Jacksonville's offense, instead, would punt the ball away for the sixth time in the game, leaving the contest tied at 14 apiece.

  Los Angeles would not allow this drive to get away from them, trusting placekicker Nick Novak from 50 yards out, and it was trust well-placed as he sent it through the uprgihts to regain the lead for Los Angeles at 17-14 with 10:35 to play.

  The Jaguars punted the ball right back with 8:57 to play, making it seven drives that concluded in punts for the team at the time.

  Less than two minutes later, the punting party continued as the Chargers booted it right back.

  On the ensuing drive, Bortles had some respectable quarterback keepers, one for 14 yards and the second for nine yards, but a false start penalty on Jacksonville left tackle Cam Robinson turned a 4th-&-1 attempt by the offense into a punt on 4th-&-6, placing the ball in the hands of Los Angeles with exactly six minutes remaining.

  Jaguars' linebacker Telvin Smith came up with a huge stop in the backfield on a Chargers' run play, bringing up 3rd-&-9 and then cornerback Jalen Ramsey seemed to be running the route for Rivers, stopping the reception but dropping the interception. Despite the drop, Jacksonville's defense placed Los Angeles in a fourth-down situation and forced Los Angeles to punt for their ninth time in the game.

  But the offense would squander away yet another opportunity to score when Bortles looked to run and decided to pass into coverage. The ball was tipped around and eventually intercepted by Chargers' free safety Tre Boston.

  So the defense, after giving opportunities throughout the entire game to the offense, decided to take matters into their own hands when defensive tackle Malik Jackson forced Ekeler to fumble and free safety Tashuan Gipson recovered it, getting up and running in for the touchdown.

  But hold on...

  After the officials review the play, they rule that Gipson was in contact with a Chargers' player, resulting in the touchdown being erased from the books.

  On the offense's first play of the following drive, they received a gift from the Chargers when cornerback Trevor Williams was flagged for pass interference, moving the Jaguars ahead to the Chargers' 22-yard line.

  Two plays later, Bortles would throw to the middle of the end zone to Lee, but the pass was incomplete. Adding hot salsa to the wound, Lee danced at a Los Angeles player and was flagged for taunting, moving Jacksonville back 15 yards, and out of field goal range.

  On the very next play, Bortles tried for Lee again, but threw instead to Boston of the Chargers, who caught his second interception of the game.

  The Jacksonville defense, having carried the team on their backs all game, forced yet another punt, giving the offense a final opportunity inside a minute to play.

  Bortles went 3-for-5 on the Jaguars' final drive from regulation, with one of his incompletions gaining some help from a roughing-the-passer penalty on Chargers' defensive end Joey Bosa. With seven seconds to play, placekicker Josh Lambo came in to attempt the 34-yard field goal and sent it home, sending the match into overtime at 17 all.

  Jacksonville won the coin toss for overtime and elected to receive.

  Bortles aired out on the team's first drive of overtime to Lee in single-coverage. Lee bobbled the ball right by the Los Angeles end zone, but did not come down with it, and Jacksonville ultimately punted away, sending Los Angeles to start from their own 10.

  Then, the Jaguars showed once again that the best offense is a good defense when cornerback A.J. Bouye took the ball out of the hands of Benjamin, taking what would have been a huge pass play for the Chargers and turning it into an opportunity for the Jaguars to close out the game.

  Bouye ran all the way to just outside the end zone, but Jacksonville was called for their second taunting penalty of the game, this one coming from strong safety Barry Church after the interception, which move the team back to Los Angeles' 17-yard line.

  After a few plays on the ground, the Jaguars called Lambo out for the 34-yard attempt.

  The ball came off Lambo's foot and into the net between the uprights for a 20-17 Jaguars' win in the extra period.

  After starting the season 0-2 at home, Jacksonville has now flipped the script, going 2-0 in their last two contests inside EverBank Field.

  They improve to 6-3 on the season, keeping pace in the AFC South division with the Tennessee Titans who also won, in a match-up with the Cincinnati Bengals to elevate to 6-3 as well, coming out of Week 10.

Syracuse is on the Wrong Side of a 38-point Swing in Loss to Wake Forest

Posted on November 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons both entered into the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York, with postseason hopes and control of their own destinies. Wake Forest, at 5-4, would become bowl eligible with a win over Syracuse, while Syracuse would get one step closer to bowl eligibility with a victory over Wake Forest, which would be their fifth victory of the season.

  Starting quarterback, junior Eric Dungey, was questionable on the injury report going into the game, and the question mark followed the Orange into the match-up when backup quarterback, senior Zack Mahoney, trotted out onto the field to lead the offense to start the game.

  Mahoney got the Orange within field-goal position, completing three of his first five pass attempts, but senior placekicker Cole Murphy missed from 45 yards away. 

  The Demon Deacons responded by scoring on their first possession of the contest, which started on their own 27-yard line after the miss by Mahoney. Wake Forest senior quarterback John Wolford completed three of his first four passes and then called his own number from three yards away for the touchdown on the quarterback keeper to make it 7-0 Wake Forest four minutes and 30 seconds into the contest.

  Mahoney went 2-for-3 on Syracuse's second drive before handing the ball to junior running back Dontae Strickland for three straight rushing attempts, the third in which he took 43 yards to paydirt to tie the game at 7-7 less than two minutes later.

  Wake Forest continued the seesaw motif, scoring on the following drive to take the lead back on a rush by junior running back Matt Colburn, this one, like Wolford's run, was from three yards out. It took a hair over three minutes for the Demon Deacons to score this touchdown to go ahead 14-7 after Wolford went 3-for-3 in his pass attempts and the team ran six times, including Colburn's touchdown and his 15-yard run that got the Demon Deacons to the 18-yard line of the Orange with a new set of downs.

  Syracuse sophomore running Moe Neal would get the rock for three runs to start the team's third drive of the game, taking one of them through the middle and out into the open field for a 47-yard gain. Mahoney would take advantage of the success on the ground by faking the handoff and passing overtop to junior tight end Ravian Pierce for a 19-yard score, which tied the game again, this time at 14-14 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.

  Wake Forest took the challenge and responded once again, scoring their third touchdown in three tries on a drive where the Demon Deacons began with four rushes, including three from Wolford, and then Wolford fed redshirt-senior tight end Cam Serigne through the middle and Serigne took off for a 31-yard receive-and-run play to make it 21-14 less than two minutes after Syracuse's previous score.

  At the end of the first quarter, both offenses had combined for 35 points and 452 yards.

  The Orange had the ball with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter after forcing the Demon Deacons to punt for the first time after allowing touchdowns on each of their first three drives.

  Mahoney would go 3-for-4 on this drive that carried over into the second quarter, including a 26-yard completion to senior wide receiver Erv Philips which brought the Orange to the Demon Deacons' 14-yard line. Wake Forest would be flagged for pass interference, placing Syracuse at the Wake Forest two-yard line.

  Enter the bruiser in the backfield for the Orange from there, as true freshman tight end/fullback Chris Elmore came in for two runs straight ahead, gaining a yard on each attempt, the second being the yard that crossed the Orange over the goal-line to tie it once again, at 21-21 less than three minutes into the second quarter (12:08 before half).

  Syracuse's defense would force Wake Forest to punt for a second time, after a quick three-and-out, and the Orange offense would move down the field once again thanks to Mahoney going 4-for-5, including a 30-yard touchdown pass play to senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael. On the touchdown play, Ishmael was clearly interfered with but somehow caught the ball, giving the Orange their first advantage of the game, at 28-21, with 9:05 left before half, giving Syracuse two touchdowns just over three minutes apart from each other in the second quarter.

  After giving up three touchdowns on the Demon Deacons' first three drives of the game, the Orange defense forced their third punt in a row, and just as they did on the last two punts forced, Syracuse capitalized off of it, this time on Murphy's first made field goal of the game. Murphy booted it through the uprights from 30 yards away to make it 31-21 Syracuse with 3:03 before the break.

  Wake Forest and Syracuse would trade punts on their next drives, but on Syracuse's punt with 43 seconds before halftime, two Wake Forest players would collide and the ball was free. The Orange recovered it and the officials ruled that the Demon Deacons' indeed contacted the ball, mkaing it a free ball for the taking.

  Just as in the first quarter, Pierce scored off of a run fake by Mahoney as Mahoney threw to the middle of the end zone to find Pierce who fell down on the ground and reeled in the ball for an 18-yard touchdown to move the Orange ahead 38-21 with 16 seconds left in the first half.

  But Wake Forest would not lay down going into the half.

  Wolford linked up with junior wide receiver Tabari Hines for a 44-yard pass play to Syracuse's 31-yard line and Colburn would run for eight more yards and slide at the middle of the field, followed by a Wake Forest timeout with two seconds remaining. The play by Colburn was perfect: Get the yards and then slide down with time on the clock. With two seconds before halftime redshirt-senior placekicker Mike Weaver would connect on his first field goal of the game, this from 41 yards away, to bring Syracuse's lead to 38-24 at half.

  In the first half alone, both teams combined for 762 total yards of offense and 72 points. The Orange amounted 425 yards on 53 plays, while the Demon Deacons gathered 337 yards on 44 plays.

  The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) adversaries traded field goals to open the second half, Weaver from 43 yards out, followed by Murphy from 47 yards away, with Syracuse ahead 41-27 approximately six minutes into the third quarter.

  Wake Forest was in need of a spark, and they got it when Serigne caught a pass and went forward for a 16-yard gain to the Syracuse nine-yard line and then Wolford got the nine yards remaining on a quarterback keeper for his second rushing touchdown of the game, bringing Wake Forest within striking distance, down 41-34, with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.

  The Orange elected to run a quarterback keeper with Mahoney on 3rd-&-8 that went no where and they punted the ball away. 

  On the ensuing drive by the Demon Deacons, they took the ball from their own 37-yard line into the Orange end zone, with the scoring play a 19-yard hookup between Wolford and Serigne where Serigne was wide open heading to the middle of the end zone, waiting for the ball.

  An extra point to follow would tie the game at 41, but nothing, including an extra point, is ever guaranteed.

  Syracuse redshirt-junior defensive tackle Chris Slayton blocked the extra-point attempt and sophomore cornerback Scoop Bradshaw, well, scooped up the ball and took off. At one point, it appeared like Wake Forest might catch up, but Bradshaw looked forward and kept his focus on the end zone, reaching it for a two-point addition to Syracuse's score, turning what might have been a 41-41 tie into a 43-40 lead.

  However, the Demon Deacons would score on their following drive when Wolford, on 4th-&-1, was given a wide open gap to run in, and he took the ball 29 yards into the Orange end zone to give the Demon Deacons their first lead since 21-14, now ahead 47-43 with 11:48 to play.

   Down by four, Syracuse would get to the Wake Forest 35, but Mahoney would follow by throwing his first interception of the game and first of the season, when his timing was not down with his receiver and senior linebacker Jaboree Williams would jump the route, returning the interception to the Syracuse 20-yard line.

  Despite being penalized to a 1st-&-20 situation, the Demon Deacons would end their drive in the Orange end zone on Serigne's third touchdown grab of the day, this one a six-yard score. This marked two straight drives where Wake Forest was in a 1st-&-20 situation and found a way to fight back and score a touchdown. With 7:17 remaining in the game, the Demon Deacons went ahead 54-43.

  The Orange would continue to sputter on offense late and redshirt-freshman quarterback Rex Culpepper would come in for Mahoney on a fourth-down try that ended in an incomplete pass, resulting in the Orange giving up the ball at their own 20-yard line. Weaver helped Wake Forest capitalize on this turnover on downs when he connected from 30 yards out to bring the lead to 57-43 Wake Forest with 4:58 to go.

  Wake Forest's 14-point lead accurately depicted how far Syracuse had fallen in the second half after once being up themselves by 14, 41-27, in the third quarter.

  Syracuse made it down the field and close to the Wake Forest redzone, but all of their progress was negated when Mahoney threw his second interception of the game, this one to redshirt-sophomore linebacker Justin Strnad with about four minutes to play.

  The Demon Deacons would do what they had done throughout the game, and that is capitalize off of the blunders of the Orange, when Colburn ran up the middle for a 76-yard touchdown where he was on a zipline of his own with no one going to catch him.

  After Culpepper and the Orange failed to gain a first down on a fourth-down try, the Demon Deacons got in victory formation with 33 seconds to play, winning the game 64-43 to become bowl eligible at 6-4.

  Syracuse falls to 4-6 with the loss, meaning that they have to defeat the Louisville Cardinals on the road on Saturday, November 18, and then the Boston College Eagles at home on Saturday, November 25, to get to 6-6 and make themselves eligible for the bowl season.

  The Orange let a 17-point lead turn into a 21-point loss, a 38-point swing in the game.

  Syracuse allowed 734 yards of total offense to Wake Forest, while Wake Forest gave up 621 yards of total offense to Syracuse, a combined total of 1,355 yards of offense by the ACC foes in this game.

  The Demon Deacons fell behind the Orange in passing yards, with 80 less, but accumulated almost 200 more yards than the Orange on the ground, thanks to Wolford's 136 and Colburn's 237 rushing yards allowed by the Orange defense.

  What once looked like a seesaw that Syracuse took control of turned into an overwhelming second half of scoring by Wake Forest, who scored 40 points to Syracuse's five in the final two quarters of play.

Coach Speak: What Dino Babers is Saying Before Wake Forest

Posted on November 11, 2017 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora


  Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers has already made a positive impression on this football program not even a full two seasons into the job.

  Year 1: Guided the Orange in defeating a top-25 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies' team that ended up winning the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division and showed resolve and toughness in the ACC Championship against the eventual national champions, the Clemson Tigers.

  Year 2: Aided Syracuse in handing the reigning ACC Atlantic Division champion and reiging national champion, the Clemson Tigers, a loss when Clemson was ranked second in the nation.

  In their five losses (home against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders and on the road versus the LSU Tigers, N.C. State Wolfpack, Miami Hurricanes, and Florida State Seminoles), Syracuse was within one score of four teams and within nine of the other, playing themselves into fourth-quarter opportunities in every single one of these match-ups.


  "Well, I just think being consistent and being persistent, Babers expressed. "There just comes a time when you have close losses, you have close losses, and then all of a sudden the dam breaks and instead of losing the close ones you win the close ones, and then instead of winning a close one, all of a sudden you start winning some by some very, very large margins."

  In contrast, "Last year, we were getting beat very convincingly," Babers added. Last season, the Orange lost games by 34, 25, 17, 19, 54, 15, 31, and 15. 

  "This year I would like to think that we've been in every single football game, and hopefully we don't have to wait until next year before we get on top of that and start winning some close ones."

  As the head coach of Syracuse, Babers is 0-1 against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and their head coach, Dave Clawson, falling 28-9 on the road to the Deacons. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey failed to score a touchdown through the air or on the ground, and threw an interception, in the 2016 match-up.

  This season, a tremendous catalyst of Syracuse's success has been the junior quarterback, as the Orange eye their first bowl berth in the Dino Babers' era.

  He is questionable for this game against Wake Forest, following his ankle injury that he played through a week ago on the road versus the Florida State Seminoles.

  Looking back at Dungey having his ankle taped and returning to the game against Florida State, Babers offered, "They gave him the green light," speaking on the Syracuse medical staff.

  "Eric was all for it, and the only thing I wanted to make sure was that he stayed within himself and if he -- like he could protect himself, let me know and we'll try to win the game a different way. He's a competitor. He's a battler. Obviously he is the straw that stirs the drink for us, and the way he competed in that situation, I didn't know if I'd have him for one series or two series, in the first half and not in the second half, and there he was at the end of the game driving us down to get us in field position for the winning field goal."

  "I think he's a heck of a competitor," Babers shared, "and I think that people around the conference are starting to recognize that."

  Dungey has accounted for 14 of the team's 15 passing touchdowns and nine of the team's 13 rushing touchdowns through nine games.

  With a taped ankle, Dungey ran for 109 yards on 22 carries, just shy of five yards per carry, versus the Seminoles. The Orange were down 14-0. His return aided in getting Syracuse all the way back into the game with an opportunity for a game-tying field goal in the final seconds.

  There is no doubt that, under Babers, the Orange are looking better, and Dungey certainly is a major paint brush that is creating a new landscape of artwork for fans to look at and appreciate moving forward.

Coach Speak: What Dave Clawson is Saying Before Syracuse

Posted on November 10, 2017 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  Since becoming the head coach of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 2014, head coach Dave Clawson has faced the Syracuse Orange in every season, going up against the Orange for two seasons when they were led by former head coach Scott Shafer and one season under Dino Babers.

  The Deacons lost 30-7 to the Orange in 2014 at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and were on the wrong side of 30-17 in Syracuse, New York, in 2015.

  But, the first time that the two former Bowling Green State Falcons' head coaches faced off inside the ACC, Clawson got the better of Babers in Winston-Salem, by a score of 28-9 in 2016.

  Syracuse has already matched their wins from 2016 (4) with three games to play, with one of their wins this season coming against the reigning national champion, the Clemson Tigers.


  "I mean, their improvement is across the board," said Clawson in our conversation. "I think when everyone talks about Syracuse, the first thing that comes up is the offense and the speed of it. But they're running the ball a lot better."

  The Orange are averaging 158.4 rushing yards per game through nine games this season. Syracuse's rushing attack is three-headed this season, led by junior quarterback Eric Dungey, who is averaging 66 rushing yards per game, followed by junior running back Dontae Strickland with 47 rushing yards per game and then sophomore running back Moe Neal with 24 yards per game.

  All 13 of Syracuse's rushing touchdowns have come among these three student-athletes, Dungey with nine, Strickland with three, and Neal gaining his first this season when the Orange traveled to Miami, Florida, to face the Hurricanes on October 21st.

  "I think their offensive line is improved," Clawson went on to say. In 12 games last season, Syracuse's offensive line allowed 38 sacks. With three games to play, the Orange offensive line has given up 28 sacks.

  "The quarterback has always been a good player and a competitor," Clawson expressed. "Now he's even more comfortable with the system. He gets rid of the football so quickly. He knows exactly where to go with it."

  Dungey has shared the ball with numerous players, with senior wide receivers Steve Ishmael and Erv Philips getting the majority of the looks from the junior signal-caller.


  "Ishmael and Philips are probably as good or dynamic as any 1-2 combination that you see," Clawson offered. The Syracuse tandem is in the top three in the nation in total receptions this season, Ishmael second nationally with 78 receptions and Philips third in the nation with 73 receptions, trailing only Trey Quinn of the SMU Mustangs, who has 90 receptions through nine games.

  "They're putting up huge numbers. The ball is thrown in tight spaces."

  Switching his focus to the Orange defense, Clawson shared, "I think their defense has really, really improved. They've taken a major step on defense. Their front is better. Their linebacking crew is experienced: [Parris] Bennett, [Zaire] Franklin, and [Jonathan] Thomas. I think they're improved in the secondary."


  "Across the board, when you watch them, they're better in every single way. You don't beat Clemson or compete with Florida State or Miami unless you're across the board. They have been in so many close games, and they've won some. Like us, they've had some near misses."

   The Demon Deacons were tied at home with the Florida State Seminoles at 19 apiece until the Seminoles scored the separating touchdown with 53 seconds left in the contest. Wake Forest came back from down 28-0 against Clemson on the road to make a late push, cutting their deficit in half at 28-14, but time ran out. They hung with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the road in South Bend, Indiana, in a high-scoring match-up, putting up 37 points, the most points the Fighting Irish have allowed through the first nine games this season.


  Syracuse played themselves into fourth-quarter opportunities in all four of their road games against the LSU Tigers, N.C. State Wolfpack, Miami Hurricanes, and Florida State Seminoles, but did not come away with a single win amongst these four games.


  Looking back to his squad, Clawson stated, "We're better. I think we're certainly a lot more competitive against the better teams in our schedule. We're not winning and finding ways to win as many of those games as we'd like, but we're in them. Some of these games we haven't been in in the past. We're not happy to be in them, we need to figure out ways to win them."


  "I think that is going to be a great challenge this week," Clawson added. "This league, this conference, probably top to bottom, is as competitive as it's ever been. Syracuse is a team like us that's trying to fight and work its way up, compete with elite teams, beat elite teams. I think we're in very similar spots."

  Speaking of being in similar spots, Wake Forest in one win away from becoming bowl eligible, coming into the Carrier Dome with a 5-4 record. They have three games left and need to win at least one of them. Syracuse is two wins away from bowl eligibility at 4-5 overall, with three games to play.

New Faces Combine to Aid Syracuse to 1-0

Posted on November 10, 2017 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange enter this season with many wanting to know who they will be.

  They came out of their first regular season match-up looking the part of teams that have come before, with a 30-plus point victory over in-state rival, the Cornell Big Red, 77-45.

  The difference is that this team entered onto the court with five new faces and six overall on the floor who had never played a game for the Orange before.

  Syracuse's true freshmen all had a hand in this victory over Cornell, with forward Oshae Brissett (pictured above) finishing with a double-double in his collegiate debut, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 11 points, while center Bourama Sidibe ended with seven points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Forward Marek Dolezaj got a healthy five rebounds offensively, had six rebounds in total, to go with eight points, a block, a steal, and an assist. Point guard Howard Washington, Jr., was quiet offensively, attempting one shot in 10 minutes, but contributed with two assists and one steal while not committing a single turnover.

  Redshirt-freshman forward Matthew Moyer reeled in 10 rebounds, grabbing eight boards on the defensive end, while scoring four points, stealing possession away from the Big Red twice, and dishing out one assist.

  Graduate transfer guard Geno Thorpe came on late. After going 1-for-7 in seven minutes played in the first half, Thorpe went 3-for-6 in 12 minutes in the second half, including back-to-back strong takes to the basket, one on each side of the hoop. He ended the game with three steals, two assists, and no turnovers to go with his 12 points in his first contest as a member of the Orange.

  As a whole, the six new faces on the floor for Syracuse accounted for 42 of the team's 77 points, nine of 12 steals, and 33 of 54 rebounds.

  After gaining the lead at 6-5 with 15:13 remaining in the first half, Syracuse never looked back, thanks to the help of their newbies who combined to help the team start off with a foot in the right direction on a long road that lies ahead.

Syracuse's Second-Half Surge is Enough to Overcome Ugly Start

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange began their first exhibition game of the 2017-18 season against Southern New Hampshire sluggish, sloppy, and giving their opponent hope.

  Syracuse began their second exhibition, this versus the Southern Connecticut State Owls, well, the same way.

  But worse.

  The Orange never led in the entire 20 minutes of the first half against the Owls, from down 3-0 to behind 29-24 at the break. At one point in the first half, Syracuse trailed Southern Connecticut State by 15, 27-12.

  Syracuse shot 8-for-31 from the field in the opening half (25.8%), including 2-for-13 (15.4%) from beyond the arc, making the Orange a combined 3-for-23 from long range in two first halves over their two exhibition games this season.

  They were also out-rebounded 25 to 22 and committed 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.

  However, a different team came out in the second half.

  Syracuse made the first three-pointer they attempted in the second half when true freshman forward Oshae Brissett connected on the team's first possession of the half.

  Orange junior point guard Frank Howard would follow with one of his own, off of an offensive rebound by junior center Paschal Chukwu.

  Brissett and Howard would score one after the other once again, shortly after, this time on layups. Howard's layup came off of his own steal, to place Syracuse ahead 34-32 with 18:09 to play in the game. That lead was Syracuse's first of the game, breaking a span of 21 minutes and 51 seconds without the advantage on the scoreboard.

  With 15:07 left to play in the second half, Brissett had already equaled his point total from the first half (7 points).

  Once the Orange took their first lead of the contest at 34-32, they never rescinded it to the Owls.

  A team that was trailing by as many as 15 in the first half won the game by 25.

  Eight of Syracuse's nine scholarship players scored in the second half, with two scoring in double-digits in the second half alone, Howard with 14 and Battle with 10.

  Coming out of the halftime break, Brissett accumulated nine points, Sidibe and redshirt-freshman forward Matthew Moyer both had eight, graduate transfer had six in his Syracuse debut, and true freshmen point guard Howard Washington, Jr., and forward Marek Dolezaj each had two.

  Brissett out-performed him offensively in the second half (9 points to 7) and Battle equaled his first-half total with 10 points in each half.

  Moyer, Sidibe, and Thorpe scored all of their points for the game in the second half.

  As a team, the Orange combined to score 24 points in the first half and 60 in the second half.

  They improved their overall shooting from 25.8% in the first half to 57.1% in the second half (20-for-35), including approximately 42% from three-point range (5-for-12) in the final 20 minutes after going 15.4% in the previous 20 minutes of play.

  To call this a tale of two halves would be accurate.

  Beyond accurate.

  The question now is how much did Syracuse's team learn from these two games, including the fact that they cannot afford to give a half to any team once the games start to count in the win-loss column.