It's a good sign for Syracuse when the biggest drama of the game revolves around who plays quarterback during garbage time. Everything went well for the Orange on Saturday---offense, defense, penalties. Yes, Syracuse fans, even special teams.
The Syracuse Orange defeated the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. Terrel Hunt went 16-21 for 175 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 39 yards and had one rushing touchdown. SU completed non-conference play with a 2-2 record.
"The kids were up to the challenge," coach Scott Shafer said. "They had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. People said, yeah you won last week but it was against Wagner."
Hunt started the first possession with a 20 yard pass to running back Jerome Smith. Six plays later, Hunt completed a 15 yard pass down the middle, again to Smith, for a touchdown.
On the second drive, Hunt completed passes to Christopher Clark on three straight plays. The last one went for a 19 yard touchdown. A few minutes later, Hunt threw his third TD of the quarter. Over the course of three games, Terrel Hunt had played on 11 offensive possessions: 10 touchdowns and one field goal.
"At the moment, you feel on top of the world You're scoring with ease," Hunt said. "I just went over and told the defense, keep giving us the ball."
That streak ended when the Orange went three-and-out to begin the second quarter. Tulane returner Kedrick Banks was back to field Riley Dixon's punt, but decided to let the ball drop. He continued to follow the rolling ball, even though he was surrounded by Syracuse players. The ball bounced off his leg and Devante McFarlane recovered the ball at the Tulane 15. Three plays later, Hunt did his best Vince Young Rose Bowl impression by weaving through a few defenders and making it to the right pylon.
Jerome Smith scored his sixth rushing touchdown this season after only having three in 2012. Smith has ran for TDs in all four games. Prince Tyson-Gulley had 11 carries for 51 yards and a score. PTG was extremely shifty and hard to tackle.
If you had Clay Cleveland in your fantasy pools, you can now collect your money. The senior fullback caught two touchdown passes against Tulane. Cleveland, a former walk-on, had not caught a TD before Saturday.
Syracuse had two blocked punts and blocked a field goal. The last time SU blocked two punts was against Buffalo on Sept. 11, 2004.
There are not too many times when a 300 pound nose tackle blocks a punt, but that's just what Eric Crume did.
"My eyes lit up. I just stuck my hand up and saw an opportunity," Crume said. "It just brought me back to my basketball playing days when I would try to block a shot."
Although it was the battle between the Orange and the Green Wave, you couldn't tell by the uniforms. Tulane wore mainly white jerseys. Syracuse donned all blue jerseys again, but also unveiled new blue helmets. Shafer said that while he is a traditionalist, he's excited about how much the players like the new look and how important working with Nike is to recruiting.
"To do it with the number one company in the world, to me, is an exciting thing for our young kids. It could lead to a lot of neat things."
The announced attendance was 36,128, up about three thousand from last week. The free tickets for Syracuse students and not playing on a Jewish holiday likely helped.
It was an emotional win for Syracuse, following the death of Rob Edson. Edson was the athletic director at Onondaga Community College and worked for Syracuse for 21 years. His initials were painted to the left of one of the end zones. His wife, Sue, works in communications for the Syracuse athletic department. The team presented the game ball to Sue. Shafer said that the team wanted to "win number two for Sue."
Syracuse now has two weeks to prepare for No. 3 Clemson Tigers in the Carrier Dome on Oct. 5. The Tigers are 3-0 and are averaging 38.7 points per game.
"I challenge our community to make this place the freaking hardest place to play in the freaking country," Shafer said. "Let's shake this freaking place. Let's have a blast."