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Syracuse Loses on Last Play for the Second Straight Week

Syracuse wide receiver Courtney Jackson watches a pass sail in front of him in SU's 40-37 loss to #19 Wake Forest.
Syracuse wide receiver Courtney Jackson (orange) watches a pass sail in front of him in SU's 40-37 loss to #19 Wake Forest.

Syracuse Football lost another heartbreaker this week to #19 Wake Forest. WAER's Ethan Frank looks into Dino Babers questionable decision-making amid the Orange’s second straight loss.

Syracuse football could easily be 5-1 right now. After today’s 40-37 loss in overtime to Wake Forest (6-0, 4-0 ACC), the Orange are 3-3 and 0-2 in ACC play. After tying the game late in regulation, SU lost on a walk-off touchdown in overtime thrown by the Demon Deacons’ Sam Hartman to A.T. Perry.

Early on, it was all Syracuse. The Orange scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. Sean Tucker ran for a score, and Garrett Shrader both threw for and ran for a touchdown in the first half. Wake Forest was able to get the score to 21-17 at halftime, but that was because of a controversial decision by Syracuse head coach Dino Babers.

“The guy is the most accurate kicker in the history of Wake Forest,” Babers said. “He was drilling it from 58 in pregame warmups… this guy is not going to miss”

With less than five minutes to go in the first half and Syracuse leading 21-10, the Orange defense stopped Wake Forest on third down to set up what would have been a 51 yard field goal. Wake Forest was called for holding on the play, and Babers decided to accept the penalty and make it third down and 23 yards to go. The Demon Deacons converted, and turned what was a long field goal into a touchdown to trim Syracuse’s lead to four going into the locker room.

In the second half, it went back and forth between the two teams. Wake kicked a field goal and also scored a touchdown to take a 26-21 lead. Then, Sean Tucker ran for his second score of the game from 14 yards out to give Syracuse the lead right back at 27-26. Tucker and Shrader combined for over 330 rushing yards on the day, even with a handful of replacements along the offensive line.

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker flips the ball to the referee after scoring a touchdown.
Sean Tucker rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns versus Wake Forest.

“I’m proud of some of the young guys that stepped up,” Shrader said. “Josh [Ilaoa], Kalan [Ellis], got thrown into the fire early...and we continued to put up on offense.”

In the fourth quarter, Syracuse had a chance to extend their lead and had 4th down and 2 from the Demon Deacons 27 yard line. With an offense that averaged 6.1 yards per carry on the day, Babers decided to trot out Andre Szmyt who promptly missed the 45 yard field goal.

Wake Forest took advantage of that miss with a touchdown drive and two-point conversion courtesy of Chistian Beal-Smith. The Orange got the ball back, but Cooper Lutz fumbled with under three minutes to go. The Syracuse defense forced a three and out, and had 2:17 to go 94 yards to get in the endzone.

Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker led the Orange down the field and the Orange’s two best offensive players connected for a 28-yard score. After taking some time to decide what to do, Babers sent the offense out on the field to go for two and win, but a delay of game penalty was called and Syracuse kicked the extra point.

“We kind of lacked that sense of urgency and the clock ran out on us,” Babers said of the penalty.

In overtime, Syracuse’s drive stalled and Szmyt made a short field goal. Then, on second down and seven from the Syracuse 22, Sam Hartman found A.T. Perry in the back corner of the endzone to keep Wake Forest unbeaten.

Syracuse hosts Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC) on Friday night starting with GZA Countdown to Kickoff at 6:30 p.m.