The Syracuse Orange football team came into Saturday needing a big win over the Boston College Eagles. And while it took awhile to get rolling, they certainly got one, besting BC by a 21-6 score.
Through the first 30 minutes, Syracuse’s offense wasn’t getting much done with just 118 total yards at the break and zero points. Boston College arrived at the Dome with a gameplan to contain Garrett Shrader on the ground, and it worked pretty early on, as the Orange QB was forced to throw early and often. As a result, SU trailed 3-0 going into the half thanks in large part to the defense bending but not breaking.
And then the second half happened, and momentum shifted in a hurry. Boston College drove down the field for a field goal to start the third, but a revitalized Syracuse offense saw Shrader take off for a couple first downs, before Sean Tucker broke a long run to top 100 yards on the day (once again) in his first 13 carries. Shrader tacked on. a 48-yard touchdown run of his own shortly after to extend the lead to 14-6. Then Courtney Jackson took a punt return to the house to make it 21-6. This was all in a very short stretch during the quarter, and SU was up by that same score going into the fourth.
From there, Syracuse stopped a Boston College drive that went deep into Orange territory before a botched snap took the Eagles out of field goal range. SU’s next drive stalled out at midfield, but not before Tucker picked up enough rushing yards to hit the third-highest single-season mark in school history.
Both defenses buckled down from there. SU forced a punt, then the Eagles did as well. A long return put Boston College right around the red zone to start a critical drive with just minutes remaining, but Syracuse’s front stuffed BC on the goal line. It was all ground game the rest of the way to kill off the clock.
Shrader didn’t have the sort of performance he enjoyed last week, but his second-half improvement was a catalyst for Syracuse gaining and maintaining their lead. He was just 5-of-14 for 65 yards throwing the ball, with most of that coming in the first half. He also had 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but lost quite a bit (42 yards) via sack. Unfortunately, he also committed a key fumble in the first half with SU driving to score.
Tucker was the bigger factor on offense, with a career-high 207 yards on 26 carries (plus a TD). While Shrader got things started by moving the chains in the third quarter, it was Tucker getting into a rhythm that really started turning things around for the Orange offense. He collected his seventh straight 100-yard game, and eighth of the season. The former extended his school record, while the latter set a new school record for a single season. Tucker also tallied the 14th 200-yard game in school history.
This win doesn’t happen without the excellent defensive effort for ‘Cuse, though. Syracuse sacked Boston College quarterbacks (both Dennis Grosel and Emmett Morehead) five times, with Kingsley Jonathan leading the way with three. Stefon Thompson had 1.5 himself, and Cody Roscoe picked up a half-sack. Syracuse had eight tackles for loss on the day, with Jonathan (three), Thompson (two) and Garrett Williams (two) each picking up more than one (while Duce Chestnut had one as well).
Boston College had just 251 yards all game, and had negative yards in the fourth until the final few minutes. Syracuse’s offense wasn’t at its best either, of course. But 359 yards (292 yards on the ground) is pretty palatable when you win by double digits.
So the Orange are now 5-4 on the year (2-3 in the ACC) with three games to play. And somehow, THIS team is knocking on the door of a bowl bid. Won’t be easy to get win No. 6, mind you. But the way SU is able to move the ball on the ground against virtually anyone, they would seem to stand a chance to find one more win left out there.
More recaps to come this afternoon/evening.