|Posted on September 15, 2018 at 3:40 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange came into their home match-up versus the Florida State Seminoles with a 2-0 start on the season, while Florida State has struggled to a 1-1 entry to the 2018 campaign.
Syracuse began the game by forcing back-to-back punts.
Offensively, the Orange got inside the Seminoles' red zone on their second drive but three straight runs by junior running back Moe Neal ended with a 21-yard field goal by redshirt-freshman kicker Andre Syzmt to take a 3-0 lead with 7:23 left in the first half.
The Orange would force a punt by the Seminoles for the Seminoles' third straight drive to open the game, thanks to strongside linebacker Kielan Whitner getting up on the line and pushing through to pressure redshirt-junior quarterback Deondre Francois and eventually force sophomore running back Cam Akers to fumble, leading to a punt.
Senior running back Dontae Strickland would get senior quarterback Eric Dungey out of a bind as Dungey found Strickland for a lob that Strickland took 29 yards and changed fields with.
This drive was almost cancelled by what was called a fumble by sophomore wide receiver Nykeim Johnson, but after review, it was ruled an incomplete pass instead of a fumble, resulting in 2nd-&-10 on the Florida State 29 for Syracuse.
Dungey would move the offense all the way back to the Florida State 40 on the next play, however, on a sack by junior defensive end Brian Burns. A 46-yard attempt by Szmyt would fall wide left and the Seminoles would take over on their own 40.
But the Syracuse defense would force the fourth Florida State punt in their first four drives and gain possession inside two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Sophomore punt returner D.J. Matthews eluded a tackle attempt down by his legs for a substantial return but it would be called back and pit the Seminoles well inside their own territory. In a strange situation off the field, Orange senior tight end Ravian Pierce would step forward on the sideline to make contact with Matthews as he was coming off the field.
This drive by Florida State would go into the beginning of the second quarter, and end the same way every one of their drives ended in the first quarter, with a punt. Five drives and five punts for Florida State courtesy of the Syracuse defense.
Neal would ride behind redshirt-junior right guard Evan Adams to a first down on a strong blocking push upfield by Adams earlier on in Syracuse's next drive. The drive would end, though, on a run by Dungey on 4th-&-1 where he was stopped by freshman cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr., who would go low and stop Dungey short, giving the Seminoles the ball on their own 25.
Despite forcing that turnover on downs, Florida State would not even get over the 50-yard line, punting the ball away for the sixth time in six drives.
On the Seminoles's seventh drive of the game, Francois tried down the right sideline and seemed to have a big gain coming but Orange redshirt-junior cornerback Christopher Fredrick reached out and took the ball right out of the air for the interception in Seminoles' territory, falling at the Seminoles' 33-yard line.
Dungey would carry the ball forward and after going to the ground, a late hit would come from Florida State, adding 15 yards to the play, giving Syracuse a first down.
Redshirt-freshman backup quarterback Tommy DeVito would come in following that late hit on Dungey.
Custis, who dropped an opportunity for a score earlier in the first half, caught a pass from DeVito and got his foot down in between the Seminoles' 2-yard and 1-yard line, setting up 1st-&-Goal just outside the 1-yard line for the Orange.
However, Syracuse would try to run it on three straight plays and got stuffed outside the 1-yard line, settling for a 19-yard field goal by Szmyt. Despite being on the 1-yard line, the Orange came away with three instead of seven, moving to a 6-0 advantage late in the second quarter, with 1:40 before half.
Ironically in the first half, the Syracuse defense showed up but the offense was quiet, a role-reversal from the typical game under head coach Dino Babers. The defense forced six punts and attained an interception, but the offense only amounted six points, despite being in the Florida State redzone on numerous occasions, including be at the 1-yard line, as aforementioned.
A convincingly-strong drive by the Seminoles into the Orange redzone would end with nothing to show for it, as Florida State simply ran out of time. Francois went 5-for-7 on the final drive of the first half, but junior wide receiver Keith Gavin was ruled inbounds and the Seminoles went into the break leaving points on the field.
The Seminoles were held scoreless in the first half, punting the ball away six straight times to open the game, followed by Francois' interception, and the final drive where time ran out.
Syracuse led 6-0 at the break. Neither team looked stellar on offense. The Orange led 91 to 70 in passing yards and 81 to 40 in rushing yards, giving Syracuse 172 total offensive yards in the first half to Florida State's 110.
Coming out of the break, backup quarterbacks Tommy DeVito and Clayton Welch were throwing on the sideline, and Rex Culpepper was suited up as well, but no sign of Dungey.
DeVito, who finished the first half, would come out in the second half, throwing a completion on his first pass, going to junior wide receiver Sean Riley.
He would air it out shortly after, finding Custis on the right sideline for 33 yards.
DeVito would run forward to an open field for a first down closely after, getting to just outside the Seminoles' redzone.
Though DeVito would lead the Orange downfield and inside the Seminoles' 30, the Orange would end their first drive of the second half with a punt, after DeVito was flagged for intentional grounding. The drive showed some positives for DeVito, the best being the aforementioned pass to Custis on the sideline, but when pressured, DeVito did not see the open receivers and instead took off on one drive, followed by an attempt to get away from Florida State that ended in the intentional grounding.
The Orange defense, thankfully for the team, began the second half the way they played the majority of the first half, by forcing a punt, the Seminoles' seventh punt in the game.
DeVito's second drive of the third quarter featured Neal rushing for 27 yards on four carries, over six yards per carry, and then DeVito going to Pierce for a 22-yard gain, followed by a keeper by DeVito for four yards, all aiding the Orange to the Seminoles' 3-yard line.
The drive would end with Syracuse's first touchdown of the contest and DeVito's first score of his young career, rushing or passing, as he charged into the end zone on the ground from three yards out to give Syracuse a 13-0 lead with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
Junior defensive end Kendall Coleman got to Francois for a sack that sent the Seminoles back nine yards to force them to punt for their eighth time.
Freshman running back Jarveon Howard would enter the game and rush for a 45-yard gain to the Florida State 3-yard line. DeVito would score from the Florida State 3-yard line once again, this time with a pass to Pierce, DeVito's first collegiate touchdown pass coming on the drive right after his first career touchdown run, both from three yards out.
With 6:55 remaining in the third quarter, Syracuse led 20-0.
The next Florida State drive would end in a sack by a defensive end as well, this time coming from sophomore defensive end Kingsley Jonathan, which would bring a six-yard loss and Florida State's ninth punt of the game.
Syracuse's offense came away with points following that defensive stop, thanks to a 23-yard field by Szmyt to give the Orange a 23-0 lead with 12:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. This marked Syracuse's third straight drive where they capitalized off of a defensive stance, something they struggled with all first half.
After gaining a first down, Florida State was moved backward as a result of a sack by junior defensive end Alton Robinson. Shortly after the ball fell by the line of scrimmage and then out of bounds on a pass attempt by Francois, the Seminoles would punt the ball away for the 10th time in the game, with 10:14 to play.
The Orange seemingly stopped the Seminoles on fourth down but pass interference would give the Seminoles a new set of downs on the Orange 1-yard line. After going back a yard on a run by senior running back Jacques Patrick, Francois would keep it for a two-yard touchdown and the Seminoles' first score of the game, making it 23-7 Orange with 6:16 to play.
Looking to condense the clock, Syracuse went to the run, and on 3rd-&-1, DeVito kept the drive alive on a new set of downs off of his keeper up the middle. Then, Strickland would take a run up the gut on 2nd-&-9 and gain 13 yards, bouncing off defenders and taking contact with the Seminoles into the end zone on a spin, giving the Orange a 30-7 lead with 3:19 to go. Strickland reeled in the short kickoff by the Seminoles that started this drive, moving ahead 19 yards to the Seminoles' 26-yard line, so it seemed only poetic for him to finish the drive he started.
DeVito ended the day 11-for-16 (68.8%) for 144 yards, with a passing touchdown and no interceptions. He added a rushing touchdown as well, as previously mentioned. They are both firsts for DeVito.
Syracuse had 24 first downs to Florida State's 11.
The Orange led the Seminoles in passing yards, 219 to 178, and overwhelmingly on the ground, 222 rushing yards for Syracuse to Florida State's 62.
Syracuse's defense aided in making Florida State 1-for-14 on third down, while the Syracuse offense went 8-for-18 on third down themselves.
The Orange defense sacked Francois a total of four times in the game.
With the victory, Babers now has a win over a well-respected name in college football inside the Dome in each of his three seasons at Syracuse, defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies (2016), Clemson Tigers (2017), and the Seminoles this season.