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Syracuse Football Replay: Hokies head north to the Dome

They come to the virtual Dome for the first time since the 2016 upset.

Since we don’t have any current sports on the docket, and we don’t have any current iterations of NCAA Football, we’ll be continuing to play through the Syracuse Orange football season on NCAA Football 13 for the PlayStation 3.

Coming off a solid, if a bit worrisome win, the Orange are heading into a week two matchup against the Virginia Tech Hokies. You may be thinking “Syracuse didn’t play Virginia Tech in the 2019 season.” If you were thinking that, you would be 100% correct, but as mentioned in the setup article, there were some issues making the new ACC out of the remnants of the old Big East that are forcing two crossover games this season. The Hokies are the second of those crossovers and they came up to the Carrier Dome.

Courtesy of opening the season with a win against a major conference opponent, the Orange were moved from #19 in the nation, up to #15. It seems there were some hiccups along the way in the top twenty. Coming off of a matchup with the Maryland Terrapins that tested the Orange, they look to continue their winning ways as they return home for the home opener against the Hokies.

Compared to the Terps, the Hokies were a much more even match on paper for the Orange. Almost mirroring the stats of the two teams, the Orange were slightly lower rated on offense. All in all this matchup was supposed to be a coin flip, so we’ll see where it goes.

Just into the first quarter and things already started go south for the Orange. Ryan Willis marched the Hokies down the field, then blew the Orange defense open with a 44 yard pass to Hezekiah Grimsley. Not quite sure what Brian Ward is doing with these early game defenses, but it’s putting the Orange at a distinct disadvantage.

After a few unsuccessful series from the Orange, including Tommy DeVito’s third pick on the season, the Hokies topped off the quarter with a chip-shot 24-yard field goal by Brian Johnson to make it a 10-0 scoreline. Needless to say, Syracuse had their work cut out for them. On a brighter note, the Hokies were held to field goal thanks to a great pass breakup on second down by Ifeatu Melifonwu, which stopped what would have been a guaranteed score. High risk, high reward paid off with that one.

Much like last week against the Terps, the Syracuse offense found their groove in the second quarter. Syracuse methodically marched the length of the field after a touchback following the field goal, with a mix of read option and quick flat routes into the sideline. The drive ended in a DeVito completion to Aaron Hackett for the ten yard touchdown.

Not to be outdone, after a pair of quick three and outs on both sides, the Hokies proceeded to march the field, bolstered by an inadvertent audible to press coverage. Noted prior audible brought them within the red zone and Deshawn McClease was able to put it home from 12 yards out, basically untouched on the misdirection.

In a mirror image, the Orange grabbed a chunk of yardage off a sideline swing pass, bringing them inside the Hokies’ 16 yard line, then had the quick hit capped off by a Moe Neal run up the middle for the score.

The defense turned it up from there, with Melifonwu snagging his first pick on the season, putting the Orange back in Hokie territory on their 42 yard line. On second down, DeVito fired a rocket across the middle to Taj Harris on the post-corner route for a great grab and his second long touchdown catch of the past two weeks. This sent the Orange into the half, up 21-17 after a ten point first quarter deficit.

The third quarter was a bit of a defensive slog, though the Hokies were able to put another field goal on the board, with Johnson hitting his second of the game, dropping the lead to a single point. The back and forth defensive stops looked to be coming to a stop, and Syracuse marching, when DeVito threw another pick, this time to a linebacker jumping a route across the middle of the field.

Syracuse made it through the fourth quarter with the win close to intact, hanging on to the small lead, and were up against a 3rd and long that they needed to convert to seal the game off. Trishton Jackson, running a post from the far side of the field was DeVito’s third read on the play, but when the first down guarantees were shut off, he took a shot down the field. Jackson’s reception was his fourth on the game and a 42-yard score to bring the game to 28-20, effectively sealing the Orange win.

Weekly Stats:

Player of the Week - Tommy DeVito - 16/27, 225 yards, 3 TD, 3 carries, 22 yards

Passing - DeVito - 16/27, 225 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 151.1 rating

Rushing - Moe Neal - 10 carries, 43 yards, TD

Receiving - Jackson - 4 Rec, 95 yards, TD; Harris - 3 Rec, 58 yards, TD

Defense - Evan Foster - 7 tackles, 2 solo; Trill - 6 tackles; Josh Black - 2 tackles, 1 sack

So the Orange are 2-0 and heading into a likely 3-0, with Western Michigan coming up. All in all a solid game, though a bit worrying at the outset. Stats are below. The Hokies were stacking the box quite a bit, so the passing offense definitely shined. Also, Not sure what’s up with Tommy, but he’s 4 TDs and 4 picks on the year, so we’ll have to see if his quarterbacks coach can smooth that one out.

Weeks one and two aren’t truly over until we put the finishing touches on recruiting. We’ll touch more on that in a recruiting recap and some season stats so far, on Tuesday with the next installment, as because of technical constraints, Syracuse and Western Michigan will need to be simmed in the Dome.