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Syracuse Football Falls 17-14 to Clemson in Another Heartbreaker

Syracuse Kicker Andre Szmyt misses a 48-yard field goal in the final minute of the game as the Orange fell 17-14 to the Clemson Tigers.
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Syracuse Kicker Andre Szmyt misses a 48-yard field goal in the final minute of the game as the Orange fell 17-14 to the Clemson Tigers.

Syracuse Football went to the down wire again, yet could not pull out a victory. WAER's Colin Block recaps the Orange's third straight loss.

Syracuse Football now sits four plays away from a 6-1 record. After tonight’s 17-14 loss to Clemson (4-3, 3-1 ACC), the Orange are 3-4 overall and 0-3 in ACC play. Still, Andre Szmyt and the Orange came one play away from conference win #1, and their second win against Clemson since the Tigers joined the ACC. With under a minute remaining in the game trailing 17-14, the Orange found themselves on the precipice of their second-consecutive overtime game. All the ‘Cuse had to do was nail a 48-yard field goal. Instead, Andre Szmyt and the Orange fell victim to a face full of laces.
What began as a defensive struggle crescendoed into a game defined by miracles and mistakes.

On the third SU drive, Sean Tucker secured the national yardage lead with a 54 yard sprint up the left sideline. On what turned out to be one of just two goal-to-go opportunities for the Orange, Shrader committed SU’s first mistake— an interception thrown to LB Tyler Venables.

Several plays later, following the interception, Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei connected with WR Joseph Ngata in the corner of the end-zone to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. Ruled a touchdown, the play required closer viewing as only three video frames separated Ngata’s foot landing inbounds and his posterior slamming into the turf out of play. This play, as described by Sports Talk Host John Eads on the Double Overtime Podcast, was, “a miracle.”

Garrett Shrader and the Orange responded with a Shrader rushing touchdown to tie the game, but that was just about all we saw from Shrader on the ground. The country’s second-ranked scoring defense entering tonight’s action, Clemson held Shrader to 6 rushing yards on 7 carries— just a week after 178-yard performance against 19th-ranked Wake Forest. In a game this close, Babers understands the low ceiling his signal-caller offers. “We all understand what he gives us,” Babers clarifies. “We all understand what he doesn’t give us.” In tonight’s game, Shrader completed under 60% of his passes for the fifth-consecutive week.

Garrett Shrader looks to handle the ball to the ref after scoring SU's first touchdown of the day.
Cuse.com
Garrett Shrader looks to handle the ball to the ref after scoring SU's first touchdown of the day.

Over its past three contests, the Orange have lost by a combined 9 points— the equivalent of one field goal per game. On the final drive of the game, Shrader’s 47 yards put the Orange in scoring position just outside the 30-yard line. Entrenched in a cacophony of loud fans and anxious players, Head Coach Dino Babers stopped the clock on fourth down, called a timeout, and rolled out his Lou Groza Award-winning kicker to try to tie the game. The rest, as you heard on the call today, was history.

Marred by cardiac plays in the clutch by opposing teams over the last three games, Babers and the Orange’s results over this span are the difference between a surefire bowl-berth and bottom-feeder status in the ACC. “I’ve been around for a while,” Babers laments. “I’m not sure I’ve been through a stretch like this.”

The pain resonated with Babers’ starting signal-caller. “Disappointed is an understatement,” Shrader vents. There are no moral victories. We need to get better.” With three of SU’s final five games coming on the road, the onus is on the Orange players and coaching staff to play a full 60 minutes and get over the hump.