Coming into Saturday night having not scored less than 30 points in a game through five games this season, the Syracuse Orange (2-4, 0-2 ACC) offense looked unstoppable. Then it started raining.
Hurricane Matthew played defense for both teams in Wake Forest on Saturday(5-1, 2-0 ACC), but in the end, the Syracuse Orange dropped Saturday’s game at a score of 28-9.
Despite the lopsided score, the game was close throughout. The game started off in whacky fashion when the Wake Forest long snapper sailed the snap over the punter's head into their own end zone, resulting in a safety for Syracuse. Those were the only first quarter points.
Wake Forest’s Junior Quarterback John Wolford got the offenses started in the second quarter with the game’s first touchdown. With six minutes left in the second quarter though, Syracuse responded in the form of a 10 play drive featuring 8 run plays, finished off by Dontae Strickland spinning into the end zone to give Syracuse a 9-7 lead. The good news is that the Orange finally put together a solid drive on the ground, something Syracuse has struggled to do all year.
The bad news? Syracuse didn’t score for the rest of the game. Late in the second quarter, John Wolford faked a swing pass to the left then ran behind a pulling tackle through the heart of the Orange defense for a 37-yard TD scamper to put Wake Forest up 14-9 at half.
The second half stayed at that score until with 4 minutes left in the game, Wake Forest halfback Cade Carney, ran in for a 3-yard score. Carney punished the Orange all game, totaling 104 yards on 29 carries, most of them right up the gut.
With little hope left for a comeback, Wake Forest’s Cameron Glenn scooped up a fumble and returned it 83 yards to put the nail in the Orange.
The teams had very similar numbers in total yards, turnovers, 3rd down efficiency, and yards per play. There were no egregious penalties that specifically cost the Orange on Saturday, but the Orange committed 7 penalties for 63 yards, compared to Wake Forest’s lone penalty for 5 yards.
Along with this, Syracuse’s two turnovers were especially costly. Eric Dungey threw an interception with one second left in the first half with Syracuse driving, looking to close the gap between the teams. The other was a scoop and score.
This sloppy play cannot continue for the Orange if they look to defeat Virginia Tech next week. Something else
the Orange can do is get the ball to stand-out receiver, Amba Etta-Tawo. The star receiver torched defenses in previous weeks, setting records and gaining national attention. Against Wake Forest, Etta-Tawo has just 4 catches for 36 yards.
Look for Eric Dungey to target him heavily next week in the Carrier Dome against Virginia Tech, where the offense will need to be firing on all cylinders if the Orange look to escape with an upset victory.