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Final score: Florida State 33, Syracuse 30

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The Orange drop a winnable game vs. the Seminoles, and are now 3-2 on the season.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange football team battled throughout the afternoon vs. the Florida State Seminoles, but it just wasn’t enough. Syracuse lost by a score of 33-30 at Doak Campbell Stadium, and falls to 3-2 on the year.

Early on, Syracuse just had nothing happening on offense, but hung around because the defense was capable enough — a feeling most SU fans are probably familiar with by now. FSU went up 3-0 in the first quarter, then 9-0 following a missed extra point in the second. The Orange offense finally got going once they rolled Garrett Shrader out of the pocket, though, and it was a different enough look to get the QB into the end zone twice to go up 13-9.

However, Florida State punched it in for a 16-13 lead, and some questionable time management by the Orange kept it their going into the half. The ‘Noles pushed it to 23-13, then Syracuse narrowed things to three once again. You’ll sense as a theme with scores of 23-20, then 30-20, 30-27 and then 30-30 as Syracuse finally tied the game again with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Florida State had the final possession of regulation and in a little over a minute, managed to march into field goal range via some big Jordan Travis runs. Ryan Fitzgerald knocked in the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Despite FSU bottling up the Syracuse offense early, Shrader’s running ability did help open things up in the latter half of the second. He finished with 137 yards on the ground on 16 carries, including a 55-yard score — one of three rushing TDs for him on the day. Despite his own slow start, Sean Tucker wound up with 24 carries for 102 yards, which was his fourth 100-yard game this year.

Without Taj Harris on the field, Shrader was forced to get other receivers involved. And though the passing game was hot-and-cold, he did figure some things out with a variety of targets, completing 13-of-22 throws for 150 yards, a TD and a pick (an end zone heave on the last play of the first half). Courtney Jackson had five catches for 55 yards, and Anthony Queeley had two for 50 and a fourth-quarter touchdown. Damien Alford caught two for 29 yards, while Sharod Johnson, Devaughn Coooper and Abdul Adams each recorded a grab as well.

Syracuse forced two turnovers on the game, turning them into three points. On the first go-around, Cooper Lutz recovered a muffed FSU punt return, then the Orange were stonewalled at the goal line. On the next opportunity, a phenomenal Duce Chestnut interception resulted in a game-tying Andre Szmyt field goal after the offense stalled out inside the 10.

Defensively, Marlowe Waxe led the team with 10 tackles, and Mikel Jones and Stefon Thompson had nine tackles apiece. When QB Jordan Travis was on, he was on, as evidenced by the fourth quarter. But SU contained him at various points, recording five tackles for losses, including three sacks. Wax, Terry Lockett and Kingsley Jonathan wound up with the sacks, while Josh Black tacked on 1.5 tackles for loss and Aman Greenwood had half of one.

So this was a very winnable game that unfortunately just didn’t work out for the Orange. You can knock early play-calling quite a bit, though I’d argue that a bunch of the later decisions largely redeem it — save the idea to take a goal line snap in shotgun formation (since Shrader came up inches short). SU’s 3-2 on the year and 0-1 in the ACC. A bowl isn’t impossible, but it certainly get a lot tougher when you drop a game to a previously 0-4 Florida State squad.

We’ll be talking more about the game today and tomorrow.