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As Predicted: Field-Goal Differential, Heart-Stopper in the Dome

Posted on September 17, 2022 at 4:00 PM

  Article by Dan Tortora

  The Syracuse Orange, decked out from head to toe in the color that is their name, won the toss and elected to receive the ball.

  Atypical of Syracuse from old, the Orange chose to throw on the first play of the game, a pass off the mark from junior quarterback Garrett Shrader. This drive would end in a three-and-out, after a mere four yards gained. Syracuse sophomore starting free safety Alijah Clark would welcome the Purdue Boilermakers to the Dome with a bear hug on special teams to silence any hope of a return on this punt.

  Purdue would gain four first downs, one off of a facemask by Syracuse, and would threaten, but came away with no points after a 4th-&-3 rushing attempt by junior running back Dylan Downing would end up a yard short courtesy of redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle Kevon Darton, giving Syracuse the ball on their own nine-yard line after the turnover on downs.

  Syracuse would respond with four first downs of their own, also with one coming from their opponent's penalty, but unlike Purdue, they would come away with points thanks to redshirt-senior kicker Andre Szmyt cashing in a check his foot sent from 50 yards away, giving the Orange a 3-0 lead with 5:33 left in the first quarter.

  The Boilermakers would also score on their second drive off the game, with sixth-year quarterback Aidan O'Connell going 7-for-7 to lead Purdue down the field and running back Devin Mockobee going untouched from 15 yards out for the first touchdown of the game by either side, giving the Boilermakers a 6-3 lead with 39 seconds to go in the first quarter. This nine-play drive took almost five minutes off the game clock (5:33 to 39 seconds).

  Why six and not seven? That came courtesy of redshirt-sophomore cornerback Garrett Williams who got a hand on the extra point try by fifth-year kicker Mitchell Fineran. 

  On Syracuse's third drive, Shrader would come out of the game, walking on his own, after being thrown backward on his running attempt, resulting in redshirt-freshman transfer quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson coming in. Del Rio-Wilson would elude multiple tackle attempts, rush forward, and complete a pass downfield, but it was an illegal forward pass, negating the first down and leading to the second punt on three drives for the Orange.

  Purdue would score for the second drive in a row when Fineran connected from 40 yards out to move ahead 9-3 with 7:54 to go in the first half. The Boilermakers would take another five minutes off the clock on this 11-play drive that spanned from 12:59 to 7:54, with O'Connell would go 6-for-8 on this possession. 


  On his first play after returning to the field, Shrader aired it out to the middle of the field to sophomore wide receiver Damien Alford in double-coverage. The ball was intercepted, but pass interference negated it, and Syracuse got the ball back plus 15 yards.

  With 3:14 to go in the first half, Szmyt's 41-yarder would fall outside of the uprights, giving the Boilermakers the ball back on the Orange 23-yard line, meaning the Orange came away without points on three of their first four drives of the contest.

  Syracuse's defense would give the offense another shot, however, after forcing a quick three-and-out by Purdue, leaving 2:22 left on the first-half clock. Shrader would attempt to run on four of six plays on this drive, with the Orange staying well within their own side of the field. He would try to run out of the pocket and send the ball to the ground for what was called a fumble on the field. After review, it was ruled an incomplete pass, saving Syracuse from giving Purdue the ball in field-goal range before half.

  The Orange concluded the first half of play with three punts, one field goal made, and one field goal missed on five drives, while the Boilermakers would have a turnover on downs, touchdown, field goal, punt, and then run the clock out, in order, for their five first-down drives.

  Both teams began the second half with quick three-and-outs within the first two minutes and change.

  Sophomore (third year due to COVID opportunity) running back Sean Tucker was not given many opportunities in the first half, but on the second drive of the second half, Shrader handed it to Tucker who ran for the short-yardage first down and followed that immediately with a catch-and-run out of the backfield for another first down.

  This drive would see Syracuse have a total of 17 plays and take over six minutes off of the third-quarter clock (8:50 to 3:11), with Shrader passing out left in the end zone to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Jones for a three-yard score.

  Just like that, the Orange were back ahead for the first time since 3-0, leading 10-9 with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter.

  The Boilermakers deserve credit for keeping this drive alive for the Orange, giving the Orange two first downs on penalties, the first on a personal foul late hit on Shrader after Shrader went out-of-bounds on a quarterback keeper and the second on a holding penalty that erased an interception by redshirt-junior linebacker O.C. Brothers. 

  Following their mistaken aid to Syracuse, Purdue would score on their nect drive, taking 5:46 off the clock from 2:11 remaining in the third quarter to 11:25 left in the fourth, on a 12-play drive where O'Connell went 5-for-7 through the air, including the touchdown pass over the middle to redshirt-senior tight end Payne Durham, who was wide open. The two-point attempt was no good, resulting in a five-point lead for the Boilermakers, 15-10, with 11:25 to go.

  On 4th-&-1, Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers elected to go for it. Shrader looked right and then left, finding sophomore wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II who went to the left sideline and turned on the jets, staying in for the 46-yard score. Babers wanted two to follow, and Shrader ran it in to give Babers what he wanted, moving the Orange out to an 18-15 lead with 8:17 to play.

  O'Connell, who had been putting on a passing clinic of sorts throughout this game, would be hurried by redshirt-freshman linebacker Derek McDonald and throw it short to redshirt-junior defensive end Caleb Okechukwu who would get his first interception and first touchdown on his 17-yard return to the house, advancing Syracuse out to a 10-point advantage, 25-15.

  The interception return came on Purdue's first play of their drive, with the Orange scoring back-to-back touchdowns in a nine-second span, from 8:17 to 8:08.

  O'Connell would come back with a vengeance, throwing on every play, going 4-for-4, with the last completion being a 55-yard pass-play to sixth-year wide receiver Charlie Jones to shrink it to a field goal difference once again, 25-22 Syracuse, with 6:41 to go.

  He was not done. O'Connell would air out on 3rd-&-4 to Charlie Jones who got out in front of Garrett Williams for a 51-yard pass-play that placed the Boilermakers just outside of the Orange redzone.

  However, Fineran would send a 41-yarder to the right, keeping Syracuse ahead by a field goal, 25-22, with under three minutes on the game clock.

  The Orange offense would not slam the door, punting it away on a three-and-out.

  Purdue would sneak through that open door, when redshirt-freshman wide receiver Deion Burks kept himself off the ground on 3rd-&-10 for a 30-yard gain. Two plays later, Durham got his second touchdown of the contest, on a 12-yard reception, giving the Boilermakers a 29-25 lead with 51 seconds remaining.

  Shrader would respond, sending the ball downfield to sophomore wide receiver Damien Alford in single-coverage. It was originally ruled a 24-yard catch, but officials overturned the call.

  On the next play, Shrader went to Isaiah Jones in single-coverage, with Purdue being flagged for pass interference.

  Shrader then went to Gadsden II, who caught the ball on the left side of the end zone for his second score of the day, this a 25-yard play, giving Syracuse a 32-29 lead with seven seconds left.

  A tackle by Garrett Williams would close the door for good, with the Orange improving to 3-0 on the season (2-0 Home, 1-0 Away, 1-0 ACC).

  The Boilermakers fall to 1-2 on the season (0-1 on the road, 1-1 at home, 0-1 Big Ten).

  Gadsden II led all receivers for Syracuse with 112 yards on six catches, two of those receptions being touchdowns.

  Syracuse looked different statistically in the win, with Shrader falling below 72% completion percentage for the first time in three games, ending at 44.8% on 13-for-29 and Tucker not attaining 100 rushing yards for the first time in three games, gaining 42 yards on 18 attempts.

Categories: Syracuse Orange Football, Atlantic Coast Conference, NCAA

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