It only took Syracuse one possession to bring its "northern football down to the south," as Scott Shafer stated a few weeks ago. The Orange offense opened the game with a 16-play drive, spanning nearly eight minutes. On Jerome Smith's eighth carry of the drive – his second on 4th down – he ran for a one yard touchdown.
The Syracuse Orange (5-4, 3-2 ACC) defeated the Maryland Terrapins (5-4, 2-3 ACC), 20-3, on Saturday in Byrd Stadium in College Park. Syracuse is now just one win away from a bowl game. The Orange have three chances to get its 6th win: by beating Florida State in Tallahassee or by defeating either Pittsburgh or Boston College in the Carrier Dome.
After the game, Smith said he's trying not to focus too much on bowl eligibility, according to WAER Sports. "We're just putting our heads down," he said. "We'll look up in three more games."
Smith's ninth rushing TD of the year gave Syracuse an early lead and the Orange never looked back. SU is now 5-1 when scoring first.
"I’m so pleased of our kids," Shafer said. "I can’t tell you how pleased I am for our kids and for our fans for showing up today."
Terrel Hunt went 15-24 for 140 yards and an interception. He wasn't great by any stretch but, once again, Syracuse didn't need a great passing performance. The Orange won by running the ball and playing good defense. In fact, Hunt's biggest play may have been a 29 yard scramble on 3rd down in the fourth quarter. It kept a Syracuse drive alive and helped set up Smith's second rushing touchdown, which sealed the deal for the Orange. Smith put Syracuse up 20-3 with 10:33 left in the game.
Smith had 28 carries, just one shy of his career-high set last season in the Pinstripe Bowl. On Saturday, he had 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Jarrod West led all Syracuse receivers with 42 yards. He had a spectacular one-handed catch during the first half. Here's the highlight.
Safety Durell Eskridge did not play in the second half because of an upper body injury. Eskridge, SU's leading tackler, had another five tackles and an interception against Maryland.
Some other Facts and Figures:
- Coming into the game, Syracuse had a 56:44 run/pass ratio. On Saturday, SU ran the ball on just over 65 percent of its offensive plays.
- In the first half, Jerome Smith had 18 carries for 60 yards. Smith only had two previous games this season with at least 18 carries (Clemson, NC State) and zero with 20+ rushes.
- Terrel Hunt hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in five consecutive games. The last one came on Sept. 21 against Tulane.
- The Terps' offense has struggled on 3rd down all year. On Saturday, they went 5-17 (29 percent). Before playing Maryland, the Syracuse defense kept opponents to 30.1 percent on 3rd down, good for 8th in the country.
- Penalty yardage: Syracuse 115, Maryland, 10. Said Shafer, "We got to play smarter. The penalties are keeping me up at night."
- Maryland didn't score until the 1:10 mark in the third quarter. The Syracuse defense had a 113 minute, 22 second scoreless stretch, or over seven quarters of playing time. That includes a shut out against Wake Forest and the last 9:32 against Georgia Tech.
- Don't expect that level of performance again next week. Syracuse plays Florida State, who scored another 59 points on Saturday.
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