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Three takeaways from Syracuse football’s 39-30 win against Wake Forest

We thought we reached peak weird before... we hadn’t.

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

So the Syracuse Orange football team won a game to end the season. With a wild and strange 39-30 win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in overtime, the Orange end the season at 5-7, with a great win to hang their hats on. A Trill Williams strip and return for a touchdown in overtime sent the Orange into the offseason on an upbeat note and a victory.

Syracuse was probably a better team than their record.

As the game progressed, one thing became apparent. While Syracuse was playing against a relatively wounded Wake Forest team, they were still a solid eight win squad in the ACC. The level of talent that they have is as good as most teams that the Orange faced on the year and this game the home team was up to the challenge. What the difference was between this and say the North Carolina State or Pittsburgh games, who knows.

In the first half, the Orange couldn’t capitalize on a number of forced turnovers. Three interceptions from Chris Fredrick, Ifeatu Melifonwu and of course, Andre Cisco, and a fumble recovery by Cisco, all led to a grand total of three points. With the Orange heading to the half up

Through the second half, Syracuse was still able to pace Wake and even through their issues, including having to substitute an injured quarterback (Welch) back in for another injured quarterback (DeVito). Both teams turned the ball over a few too many times. The Orange were able to battle back and forth with the Demon Deacons for most of the afternoon, eventually sending the game to overtime. The Orange weren’t able to capitalize on the offensive side of the overtime, but Andre Szmyt made sure they went into the defensive series with a lead and Williams sealed the deal when it looked like Wake may score the touchdown for the win.

The running game and Moe Neal in particular won’t get the credit they deserve

Moe Neal finished the game with 98 yards and a touchdown, ending with 2,560 yards on his career. He was 10th on the career rushing list coming into the contest and moved into 9th all-time on the day. He had at least three drive saving or downright crazy runs, including a 21 yard rush that meandered through the entire defense twice.

The running game led the way for an offense that started out strong early, but sputtered as the game went on. A balanced attack kept the offense moving in the second half, with Trishton Jackson receptions setting up a 13 yard touchdown by Neal run to put the Orange in front. Jarveon Howard had a solid day up the middle, going over the 50 yard mark and offering the change of pace for Neal. The Orange were able to establish the run which opened the offense more so than they have been able to in recent weeks and it definitely helped out.

The returning talent on this team is showing their mettle.

There were a plethora of positional things to look forward to coming out of this game, chief among them the receiving corps. Trishton Jackson finished with 111 yards on the game, completing the sixth 1000+ yard receiving season in Syracuse history. Taj Harris missed the middle of the game with an injury, but had four important grabs on the day, including an extremely athletic reception, making something out of nothing, down to the three yard line for the first Orange score. Aaron Hackett and Luke Benson both seem to be relishing the tight end dump plays, Benson taking one to the house and Hackett keeping the offense moving late in the fourth quarter.

The secondary performed decently on the day, with highlights including the aforementioned interceptions. With Cisco, Melifonwu, and Trill Williams returning it should be a benefit for the Syracuse defensive backfield in the next year.

Also, Andre Szmyt, who knocked in four of four field goals, including the go-ahead kick with 0:44 left on the clock and one in the first overtime, his seventeenth and eighteenth on the year, is coming back. That should be enough to get anyone excited.


Your takeaways? Certainly you have some to add to the above.