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Missed Opportunities Doom Syracuse in Heartbreaking Loss to Florida State

Running Back Sean Tucker tries to evade a defender in Syracuse’s 33-30 loss to Florida State Saturday.
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Running Back Sean Tucker tries to evade a defender in Syracuse’s 33-30 loss to Florida State Saturday.

Syracuse Football fell short to Florida State in its ACC opener in heartbreaking fashion. WAER's Zach Letson breaks down a loss plagued by missed chances in Tallahassee.

For a second straight week, Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC) played in a nail-biting thriller. This time, SU was on the wrong side of it. The Orange fell just short to Florida State (1-4, 1-3 ACC) on a last-second Seminoles field goal, 33-30 in the Orange’s ACC opener Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

For a second consecutive week, Head Coach Dino Babers opted to start Garrett Shrader at quarterback. The Mississippi State transfer scorched Florida State with his feet, rushing for 137 yards and three of the four Orange touchdowns. That included a 55 yard touchdown scamper to get SU on the board in the second quarter. After so many weeks where Sean Tucker stole the show on the ground, this week, it was the quarterback’s turn.

“They made it look like the run was going to work,” said Shrader postgame. “That’s why my numbers looked good today, they keyed in on Sean.”

Quarterback Garret Shrader runs into the endzone for one of his three rushing touchdowns Saturday
Cuse.com
Quarterback Garrett Shrader runs into the endzone for one of his three rushing touchdowns Saturday

Despite reaching its highest scoring output in an ACC game in over a full year, Syracuse could not capitalize on several major opportunities. The Orange were just 2 for 12 on third down, and 0 for 2 on fourth downs, including a pivotal fourth quarter goal-line stand at the one yard line.

“We got to score in the red zone, score more touchdowns and more points,” said Shrader. “It was a step forward, but not good enough.”

Following that stop, the Orange defense provided a spark. Down 10, the Orange forced a three-and-out. Then, Shrader connected with wide receiver Anthony Queeley on a 26-yard catch-and-run touchdown to make it just a three-point game. When the SU defense took the field again, true freshman defensive back Darian “Duce” Chestnut made the highlight play of the game, a full-extension diving interception to give Syracuse the ball back again.

Wide Receiver Anthony Queeley finds his way to the endzone for a crucial fourth quarter touchdown
Cuse.com
Wide Receiver Anthony Queeley finds his way to the endzone for a crucial fourth quarter touchdown

“The catch was no joke because he caught the ball, and the first thing that hit the ground, if I’m not mistaken, was his elbows.” said Head Coach Dino Babers about Chestnut. “He stayed locked on...a lot of confidence, a lot of moxy...the catch was a lot harder than you guys think it was.”

That turnover gave the Orange great field position, and they took advantage with an Andre Szmyt game-tying field goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

With less than a minute to go, the Seminoles had the ball, pushing for a game winning field goal. On a 3rd and 7 from the Orange’s 38 yard line, FSU QB Jordan Travis escaped the pocket, and as he did so, a controversial no-call on a holding penalty occurred on Syracuse linebacker Marlowe Wax. The play turned into a 25-yard gain for Travis, and Florida State walked it off two plays later on a game-winning field goal.

“This team is not like last year’s team. said Babers. “We are going to be able to compete and battle.”

SU returns to Syracuse next Saturday for a matchup with undefeated Wake Forest. Our coverage begins with GZA Countdown to Kickoff at 3:00 Saturday with kickoff at 3:30 on WAER 88.3 FM and waer.org.