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Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse picked up its first win of the season, 37-20, on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. .
The Orange (1-2, 1-2 ACC) has bye week before facing Duke at home on Oct. 10. Georgia Tech falls to 1-2.
Biggest offensive play
Syracuse took early control of the game but Georgia Tech looked like it had wrested that advantage away as the third quarter neared its end. But after the Yellow Jackets pulled within three points, Syracuse responded with a three-play touchdown drive.
The response was capped by a 43-yard dime from quarterback Tommy DeVito down the sidelines and into the hands of Nykeim Johnson. With the Orange on the ropes, the touchdown provided Syracuse some needed cushion.
Biggest defensive play
Syracuse clinched the game on its fourth interception and a defensive touchdown by Trill Williams. The Orange took the ball when Ja’Had Carter intercepted a Jeff Sims pass over the middle. Carter began the return and, when he ran into traffic, stopped and pitched the ball to his faster teammate.
Williams turned the corner with a full array of blockers, putting Syracuse ahead 37-20 with 8:10 remaining in the game.
Syracuse’s running game found a little bit more life against Pittsburgh and carried that into the game against Georgia Tech. Sean Tucker scored the game’s first touchdown and the second of the season for the Orange, bursting up the middle and spinning out of a tackle to complete a 38-yard touchdown run.
A Georgia Tech defender tried to bring Tucker down by spinning him to the turf, but Tucker landed on his body and quickly found his footing before hitting the ground. For a team that has struggled and lost a star player before the game, the play had to provide a critical injection of energy.
Best new amenity
The new Carrier Dome scoreboard lived up to John Wildhack’s promise that it would bring a “wow factor.” Syracuse showed off its new renovations, and the center-hung scoreboard stole the show. At more than 62 feet long, it commands the attention of nearly the entire building.
While it’s a nice addition for those sitting below, I imagine it is going to even more impressive for those sitting in the upper deck and further from the field.
The new sound system was a close second. The music is much clearer and it’s much easier to understand announcements from the public address announcer or at least it was without fans in attendance.
Syracuse lost star safety Andre Cisco before the game even began. Cisco collided with a teammate during warmups and limped back to the locker room. He watched the game from the sidelines without wearing pads. It wasn’t immediately clear what the injury was or how severe it is.
The start of the game was delayed nearly 30 minutes as Syracuse was forced to retest three players to confirm negative coronavirus tests. Syracuse did not provide any immediate information on what happened at the last minute to require the tests to be done so close to kickoff.
The season is going to full of strange moments like these. The good news is that all the Syracuse players did test negative and the teams eventually returned to the field and were able to play the game.
For much of the past few years, Syracuse has struggled to grind out yards close to the end zone when defenses are packed in tightly and yards are at a premium, especially when quarterback Eric Dungey hasn’t been around to ram the ball forward.
On Tucker’s 4-yard run, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers had one of his most physically imposing players, defensive tackle McKinley Williams, serve as a lead blocker.
Syracuse’s defense forced multiple turnovers early and repeatedly giving the Orange offense a short field to play with. It did the same thing against both North Carolina and Pittsburgh.
This time, however, Syracuse was able to capitalize on those opportunities by scoring touchdowns, gaining an upper-hand early and never completely losing it.
Freshman running back Sean Tucker provided some hope that the Orange will be able to grow a ground game as the season grinds onward. He and the offensive line began to find some room in the second half against Pittsburgh and built on that early against the Yellow Jackets. He finished with 112 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns.
Syracuse’s passing game. After two games in which he was sacked 14 times, Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito had a bounce-back game. He connected on a number of deep throws and also hit a number of receivers in stride with quick throws. He finished by completing 13 of 24 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Credit the offensive line for giving DeVito more time on the deep ones, the quarterback for being decisive on the short ones and offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert for stitching things together after they fell apart so badly against Pittsburgh.
Worst decision by Syracuse
DeVito had a bounceback game but he nearly made a killer play late in the first half. With Syracuse facing a 3rd-and-20, DeVito was on the verge of a backbreaking conversion when he stepped out of bounds to avoid a hit just 1-yard short.
Syracuse false started on the next play and was forced to punt. DeVito needs to keep himself safe and most of the time stepping out of bounds is a good instinct. But it shouldn’t happen when he just needs 1 more yard on third down.
Worst decision by Georgia Tech
Hindsight is always 20-20 on these, especially when a coach tries something unconventional, but I’m not sure what Georgia Tech Geoff Collins was trying to accomplish with a fake on the point-after following the Yellow Jackets’ first score.
If he liked the play that much, it might have made more sense to save it. Perhaps watching plus-sized punter Pressley Harvin II run in a score would have given Georgia Tech some energy but, after the play failed, Syracuse responded with a long kickoff return by Nykeim Johnson and, two plays later, a 46-yard bomb from Tommy DeVito to Taj Harris. The Syracuse score made it 23-6.
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