Syracuse Scores Upset Triumph Over Liberty, 24-21
Syracuse football secured an upset victory over Liberty on Friday night. WAER’s Carter Bainbridge recaps how the Orange avenged last year’s loss to the Flames.
Riding high off last week’s momentum, Syracuse (3-1, 0-0 ACC) upended Liberty (3-1, 0-0 Independents) 24-21 in the Dome Friday night in an exciting back-and-forth contest. Both teams traded blows throughout the game, but it was SU kicker Andre Szmyt’s 35-yard field goal with one second remaining that sealed the deal for the Orange.
Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader was tabbed for his first start of the season under center for Syracuse. Though Shrader scored twice on the ground, he certainly wasn’t the offensive star of the game and finished with just 77 passing yards on six completions. It didn’t matter much as freshman running back Sean Tucker amazed once again, this time with a career high 32 carries for 168 yards and a second quarter score.
All the credit can’t go to the SU offense, though. Head coach Dino Babers watched his defense tee off on Liberty’s star quarterback Malik Willis, who was sacked six times and lost a fumble against the Orange’s swarming front.
“I thought they [Syracuse’s defense] were amazing,” Babers said. “Especially with the fourth down stop, that was big. That was big. They [Liberty] could have kicked a field goal right there, and they went for it.”
Despite the pressure, Willis kept Liberty in the game throughout. Syracuse jumped to a 14-0 second quarter lead, but the junior answered back with a touchdown pass to running back Shedro Louis to cut the lead in half. Willis ultimately finished with three touchdown tosses, the third of which tied the game at 21 with 14:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
However, the key moment of the game came midway in the fourth quarter and didn’t involve any scoring. Syracuse produced a goal line stand for the ages after Liberty started with a first and goal from SU’s four yard line. On 4th and goal from the Syracuse two, the Orange dropped Willis for a loss and took over on downs. Liberty would run just two more plays in the contest.
Syracuse’s victory gives them an impressive win over a team that finished ranked No. 17 in last year’s AP poll, and means that Dino Babers’ team has now tripled its win total from 2020 just four games into this season. ACC play begins for the Orange next week with a trip to face Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium. Kickoff for that game is at 3:30 on October 2nd, and WAER’s coverage begins that day at 3 p.m. with Countdown to Kickoff.