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A Confusing Ending Mars Comeback Attempt by 'Cuse

Posted on November 28, 2020 at 4:05 PM

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange entered into the new-look Dome for their final home game of the 2020 season at 1-8 overall.

  An increible upgrade to the Dome has made the atmosphere around the Orange look incredible, but the outcomes have been anything but what the Orange have wanted.

  This final hoorah in the Dome of the 2020 campaign pitted Syracuse against the visiting N.C. State Wolfpack, a 6-3 squad coming in having already punched their ticket to Bowl Season.

  Syracuse began the game with a 10-play drive where they achieved a new set of downs three times, but came away with no points.

  N.C. State would follow with a nine-play drive as their opening possession, and unlike the Orange, would come away with points, scoring off of a rush by sophomore running back Zonovan Knight where Knight would fumble the ball into the Orange end zone but recover it to gain the points. Syracuse true freshman defensive back Ja'Had Carter forced the fumble. 

  True freshman wide receiver Trebor Pena responded immediately, with a 98-yard kickoff return where he broke out to the right sideline and took off for Syracuse's first score of the game, tying the game up at 7-7 with 7:25 to play in the first quarter.

  On the Wolfpack's second possesion of the game, redshirt-junior quarterback Bailey Hockman was credited with a touchdown on a quarterback keeper. However, after further review, the touchdown was called off as the officials declared that Hockman had lost control of possession and the ruling became a touchback in the end zone, giving the ball to the Orange instead to start their second offensive drive from their own 20-yard line.

  Syracuse would take their second drive of the game into the start of the second quarter, ending this possession with their first lead of the game, thanks to redshirt-junior kicker Andre Szmyt's 45-yard field goal, making it 10-7 Syracuse with 13:40 to play before halftime; this field goal was the eighth made by Szmyt this season.

  Junior wide receiver Taj Harris' refusal to be taken down easily helped the Orange get to this field-goal range for Szmyt, when he caught a pass from redshirt-senior quarterback Rex Culpepper and stayed up for nine yards.

  The Wolfpack followed with their third possession of the half where Hockman would find his receiver on the first play, but a clean hit would knock the ball free and sophomore linebacker Mikel Jones would intercept the ball mid-air returning the ball 27 yards to the Wolfpack's five-yard line. It was Jones' fourth interception of the season, leading all Orange personnel.

  Syracuse would come away with another field goal by Szmyt, this one from 23 yards away to give them a 13-7 advantage with 13:09 left in the half. Three incomplete passes from Culpepper led to the field-goal try.

  Facing a third-down situation from the Orange 48-yard line, Hockman was struck by redshirt-junior defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu for a sack that resulted in a loss of 10 yards and the Wolfpack punting the ball away.

  Syracuse's following drive would not amount to any points as the Orange punted away their possession for the second time in the half.

  The Wolfpack would capitalize off of a pass interference penalty on Orange redshirt-freshman safety Adrian Cole on third down and five plays later, Hockman would find redshirt-graduate wide receiver Thayer Thomas in the end zone for a 15-yard score to give the lead back to the Wolfpack, 14-13, with 6:05 left in the first half.

  Culpepper rolled out on 3rd-&-5 and launched the ball downfield on Syracuse's fifth drive of the first half finding senior wide receiver Nykeim Johnson who had gotten out in front of his defender. Johnson reeled it in for a 60-yard play for the score that rolled the Orange back ahead, 20-14, with 3:23 to go.

  Syracuse true freshman linebacker Marlowe Wax would wrap up Hockman on N.C. State's next drive. As he was taking down Hockman, Hockman tried to throw the ball, but Wax had him turned and the ball was thrown out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety that extended Syracuse's lead to eight points, 22-14, at the 3:12 mark of the second quarter.

  The Orange would carry that 22-14 advantage in the locker room for the halftime break.

  N.C. State came out of the break with a six-play drive where Hockman went 3-for-3 including his final pass to Thomas where he got behind redshirt-freshman cornerback Garrett Williams for a 31-yard touchdown pass-play. Hockman's two-point conversion pass attempt would fall incomplete, keeping Syracuse ahead by two, 22-20, at the 12:35 mark of the third quarter.

  On 3rd-&-14 from his own 21-yard line, Culpepper trusted in Harris, who caught the ball low and turned his sights out left as most of the players had shifted to the right side of the field, keeping the drive alive, but it would eventually end in a punt.

  Culpepper would find Harris on the next Orange drive, this time in the end zone, on a 3rd-&-6 attempt over the middle to extend the Orange out to a 29-20 advantage at the 5:49 mark off of this 13-yard pass-play. This reception was Harris' 10th of the game, totaling 105 receiving yards at this point in the contest.

  On their third drive of the third quarter, the Wolfpack would reach the end zone for their second time on three tries in the second half, when Hockman found Thomas on the left side of the Syracuse logo by himself. This touchdown shrunk the Syracuse lead to two, 29-27, at the 2:22 mark of the third quarter. It was the third link-up of the day between Hockman and Thomas.

  N.C. State would find the end zone for the third time on four second-half drives when senior wide receiver Emeka Emezie made a superb grab and held on with Melifonwu's coverage right there. This score, a 26-yard play from Hockman to Emezie gave the Wolfpack their first lead of the second half, at 33-29 after the missed two-point conversion attempt, with 14:14 on the fourth-quarter clock.

  Conversely, the Orange would punt the ball away for the third time on four drives in the second half.

  On 3rd-&-6, senior defensive Cody Roscoe sacked Hockman, forcing the Wolfpack's second punt of the half, getting the ball back to his Orange with a little over 11 minutes to play, still down four, 33-29.

  But Syracuse would go three-and-out and punt the ball away for the fourth time on five drives. Redshirt-senior punter Nolan Cooney would aid the Orange, sending the ball toward midfield from back by his own end zone. A holding penalty on the Wolfpack would move them back even further, placing them on their own 32-yard line to start their sixth drive of the second half with 10:02 to go.

  But on 3rd-&-4, Hockman would air out to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Devin Carter for a 32-yard gain that brought N.C. State from their own 38-yard line to Syracuse's 30.

  Syracuse's defensive stance on 3rd-&-9 from their own 13-yard line prevented a touchdown and kept the game within one score as junior kicker Christopher Dunn booted the ball through the uprights from 31 yards out to make it 36-29 with 5:20 to play. This was Dunn's only field-goal attempt of the game.

  Culpepper sent the ball to the right sideline on third down and Harris came down with it, but the ruling on the field was an incomplete pass, with the officials stating Harris did not come down with a foot inbounds. After review, the officials stated that Harris came down with one foot inbounds and what would have been a fourth down turned into a 26-yard gain and a new set of downs.

  Syracuse would have 4th-&-1 shortly after and the quarterback sneak works for Culpepper, keeping the ball with Syracuse on the N.C. State 35-yard line.

  On the very next play, redshirt-freshman wide receiver Courtney Jackson caiught the attempt from Culpepper, making moves for a 15-yard gain to the Wolfpack's 20-yard line with 1:10 to go.

  Culpepper would go back to Harris on 3rd-&-10 and Harris would catch the ball over the middle, taking it for a new set of downs to the Wolfpack's nine-yard line.

  On 3rd-&-7, Culpepper would run around, going backward, taking time off of the clock and eventually getting sacked for a loss of 11 yards. He would spike the ball on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs to N.C. State who secured the win with one second remaining.

  With this loss, Syracuse fell to 1-9 on the season, their lone win coming at home on September 26, 2020, versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Orange went 0-5 at home in the new-look Dome following that victory.

  N.C. State improves to 7-3 on the season with the win, raising them back above .500 on the road, at 3-2.

  Hockman ended the day 23-for-31 (74.2%) for 313 yards and four touchdowns, three of them going to Thomas.

  Culpepper finished 23-for-45 (51.1%) for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

  Harris had 13 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown in the contest.

Categories: Syracuse Orange Football, Atlantic Coast Conference, NCAA

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