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Speared by the Seminoles: Syracuse Crushed by No. 23 Florida State 38-3

Duce Chestnut (0) wraps up a Florida State player. Chestnut made six tackles on Saturday night.
Duce Chestnut (0) wraps up a Florida State player. Chestnut made six tackles on Saturday night.

The only noise that could be heard during the 4th quarter within the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday night was from the Florida State faithful celebrating its blowout victory by practicing its tomahawk chop routine.

It was never a competitive contest on senior night. The Syracuse offense struggled to the tune of six three-and-outs, eight total punts, a missed field goal that was not even close and an interception. Meanwhile, the Florida State offense scored on six of its first nine possessions. Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis had five total touchdowns, while SU generated just three first downs through the first three quarters. Florida State improved to 7-3. Syracuse, with its fourth consecutive loss, fell to 6-4.

“The performance out there today, you have to put that on me. I take full responsibility for that, full responsibility. It was not good enough… that’s not what we represent,” Head Coach Dino Babers said in his postgame press conference.

FSU Dominated Right from the Start

After Syracuse went three-and-out to open the game, Florida State marched 72 yards in eight plays and capped it off with a Jordan Travis rushing touchdown.

The next two SU possessions also ended in punts after three plays. On the second drive, quarterback Garrett Shrader, who made his first start in two weeks, was sacked on 3rd down for a 10-yard loss because FSU defensive lineman Patrick Payton was unblocked. On the third drive for the ‘Cuse, wide receiver Oronde Gadsden created minimal separation on a 3rd and four back-shoulder route; the pass was easily broken up by the Florida State defensive back. Gadsden finished the contest with one reception following his zero catch performance last week at Pitt. Shrader completed just six passes on Saturday night.

“I didn’t play particularly well. I mean it happens. Just moving forward we’ve got to figure out a way to get connected and just make sure everyone’s on the same page,” Shrader said.

The ‘Noles scored 17 more points in the first half, including two touchdowns on basic passing plays. The first of which was a completion to 6-foot-4 wide receiver Malik McClain, who stiff armed 5-foot-10 defensive back Jeremiah Wilson to the ground to reach the end zone. The next TD came just under six minutes left in the half after a Syracuse fask mask penalty on punt coverage put Florida State at the ‘Cuse 24-yard line. Cornerback Duce Chestnut was playing 10 yards off of 6-foot-7 wideout Johnny Wilson, who made the catch and easily broke the tackle attempt from the 6-foot Chestnut to scamper into paydirt. That score made it 21-3 Seminoles.

On the last drive of the half, Travis used his legs to pick up 21 yards on a play that helped Florida State ultimately kick a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

Second Half Silliness

Florida State began the second half with another dominate touchdown drive. SU went three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Then, on 4th and goal from the Orange two-yard line, the Seminoles called timeout to discuss their options, up 31-3. The offense came back onto the field, and the ‘Noles executed a trick play that ended with Travis, the quarterback, catching a touchdown to make it 38-3.

Mikel Jones (3) tries to fire up the home crowd. The junior participated in the senior night ceremonies.
Mikel Jones (3) tries to fire up the home crowd. The junior participated in the senior night ceremonies.

Two more plays encapsulated the Syracuse disappointment. The first was when Shrader got picked off on the first drive of the 4th quarter. His pass was intending for running back Sean Tucker, but Tucker was not even aware of the pass and didn’t look at the ball as it was sailed into the arms of the FSU defense.

With the backups in on the final drive, the Orange marched all the way to the Seminoles two-yard line. As time was ticking down, running back LeQuint Allen rushed for one yard, one yard shy of the end zone as the clock hit triple zeros.

Despite the 35-point loss, Babers kept an optimistic mentality.

“We can’t trade our guys in. You know it’s not the NFL. So, we have what we have and I like our guys and I like this family.”

Up next for Syracuse football is a matchup in Winston-Salem against Wake Forest on Saturday. WAER’s coverage will begin with McClurg Team Countdown to Kickoff at 7:30 for a 8 p.m. kick. But WAER has another broadcast before that. On Tuesday the men’s basketball team hosts Colgate at 7. Coverage starts at 6:30 with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff.