Together, they defeated the Deacons 30-7 on Saturday to earn their first ACC win of the 2014 season and snap a four-game losing streak.
The highlights of the day belonged to the defense, who scored not one but two turnover touchdowns. First was Rob Welsh, who snagged an interception and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Then, in the third quarter, Micah Robinson scooped up a Brandon Reddish-caused fumble and rumbled all the way to the endzone for a 51-yard touchdown scamper. And beyond the highlight scores, the defense basically locked down on the Wake offense after their lone touchdown and never let up.
Offensively, A.J. Long looked pretty decent in his first start. The freshman was 22-of-32 for 171 yards through the air while also rushing for nine yards and a touchdown. Steve Ishmael continued to be Long's favorite target with six catches for 72 yards and Jarrod West added 41 yards on five catches.
On the ground, the "running back to walk through the revolving door of good games" today was Devante McFarlane. Thanks to an 86-yard run that was the third-longest in school history, McFarlane ended up with 114 yards on ten carries. Prince-Tyson Gulley added 36 yards on ten carries.
Redzone woes continued to plague the Orange. They did get one touchdown but settled for field goals otherwise. Today, it didn't matter, but, it continues to be a major concern for the squad. Also of concern was the punt return decision-making and, of course, penalties.
Cole Murphy stole the Special Teams spotlight from Riley Dixon thanks to a 12-point day. He was 3-of-3 on field goals, including a 41-yarder
that established a career-best for the freshman.
All in all, exactly what the DOCTOR ordered for this Syracuse football team. While the road to bowl eligibility is still a tough one, it still feels like a road worth walking. When it stays out of its own way, this team can do great things. We saw that today. Let's hope to see it again at least three more times.