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Syracuse Football Replay: Orange knock off Clemson

The Top 25 matchup resulted in a landmark win for Syracuse.

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.

Check out the rest of the series here.

After a few bye weeks, the Orange are back in action, in a hotly contested Top 25 matchup against the Clemson Tigers. With the setback of the prior week against the NC State Wolfpack is fresh in memory, the No. 13 Orange needed to find a way to bounce back into form down in Death Valley against a Clemson team ranked No. 1 in the country.

Right out of the gates, on the second play from scrimmage, Tommy DeVito fired up the hype train, hitting Nykeim Johnson over the middle for a 78-yard touchdown. It was one of Johnson’s five catches on the day for a team leading 116 yards.

The Orange defense showed up to play from the first whistle as well, forcing Clemson to go three and out on each of their first two possessions. At the same time, the offense was clicking, with DeVito marching the squad down the field, using Trishton Jackson and Taj Harris on the outside of the field, before Moe Neal found paydirt from 11 yards out.

The ensuing Clemson possession, the legend that is Andre Cisco came up with a big third down interception, leaving the Orange a short field. DeVito found Trishton Jackson for his second passing touchdown of the game, putting the Orange up 21-0 on the road in Death Valley at the end of the first quarter.

Unfortunately for the Orange, the Tigers didn’t roll over and Travis Etienne and Trevor Lawrence decided to showcase why they are both considered first round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence put up most of his effort in the second half, but Etienne got Clemson on the board in the second quarter with a fifteen yard run that brought it to 21-7 to close the half.

To start the second half, the momentum had shifted. Syracuse’s offense had stalled out and Lawrence had hit Justyn Ross for a touchdown to make it a one possession game. Heading towards the fourth quarter, the Orange marched the field and finished with an Abdul Adams one yard run, putting them up two scores with less than a quarter to play.

Clemson responded quick with another Etienne touchdown, followed by a Syracuse turnover on downs after a single first down. That first down wasn’t enough to eat the clock up and led to the Tigers tying the game at 28-28, with 33 seconds left on the game clock. Lawrence had worked the sidelines to control the clock and hit Etienne on a swing pass to tie the game.

With limited time, the Orange took the touchback and took over on the 20 yard line. One quick 25-yard strike to Taj Harris on the left, and a screen pass to Moe Neal for another ten yard gain on the right, and the Orange were within striking distance. With time getting down, DeVito made a read on a seam up the middle with Aaron Hackett streaking wide open on a play that was intended to work the sideline and ultimately set up a field goal. Hackett took the 35-yard pass to the end-zone and put the Orange up 35-28 with only three seconds left on the clock, sealing the Orange upset on the road at Clemson.

The linebacking corps was busy on the day. Lakeim Williams racked up nine tackles, including seven solo and two tackles for a loss. Andrew Armstrong was second on the team with six on the day. Both sacks came from secondary blitzes, with Trill Williams and Scoop Bradshaw contributing.

Overall a huge win for the Orange, and it vaulted them to a 7-1 (4-1) record and a season high No. 7 ranking in the polls the next week. They travel to Atlanta next week to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Weekly Stats:

Passing - DeVito - 20/32, 350 yards, 3 TD, 185.3 rating

Rushing - Neal - 14 carries, 44 yards, TD; Adams - 2 carries, 1 yard, TD

Receiving - Jackson - 6 Rec, 90 yards, TD; Johnson - 5 Rec, 116 yards, TD; Harris - 4 Rec, 70 yards; Hackett - 2 Rec, 57 yards, TD

Defense - Lakiem Williams - 9 tackles, 7 solo, 2 TFL; Armstrong - 5 tackles, 1 solo, TFL; Trill Williams - 5 tackles, 1 solo, 0.5 sack; Cisco - 5 tackles, 4 solo, INT; Bradshaw - 4 tackles, 1 solos, 1.5 sacks