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Final score: Syracuse 35, Wake Forest 45

Much improved, but not quite enough

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough stretch, the Syracuse Orange were looking to get back on track, heading to Winston-Salem to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Unfortunately they fell just short in what turned into a shootout down at Truist field. The Orange moved to 6-5 on the season with the loss.

Right off the bat the Orange dialed up Sean Tucker’s number. It worked on his initial run, but the new offensive line of Enrique Cruz, Dakota Davis, Josh Ilaoa, Jakob Bradford, and Carlos Vettorello definitely needed a few snaps to figure out the run game. Ultimately the opening drive resulted in a Sean Tucker touchdown on the wildcat direct snap that gave the Orange a 7-0 lead, their first since the Pittsburgh game. Despite an injury to Mikel Jones on the opening drive, the Mob was able to hold Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest delayed handoff offense to a field goal to bring it to 7-3.

Shrader through the first two series was looking through a multitude of options in his receiving corps and looking better for it. Unfortunately a long touchdown to D’Marcus Adams was called back for a holding penalty which negated another great completion. Shrader however did have more passing yards in the first quarter than he did in the entire game last week. A miscue off a bad snap by Max Von Marburg set up the Demon Deacons for their first touchdown of the day, 10-3. AT Perry caught the touchdown on an Isaiah Johnson contested ball that the wide receiver ultimately didn’t control, but the ruling on the field stood.

Damien Alford continued his “streak” of only catching balls in the 25-50 yard range by hauling in a nice ball over the top to set up a Sean Tucker run to put the Orange back on top, 14-10. The defense forced a turnover on downs after Wake drove down the field into the red zone, setting up a long field for Shrader and the offense. D’Marcus Adams snagged a 44-yard completion from Shrader and DeVaughn Cooper caught a 33-yard touchdown strike in coverage on the LeQuint Allen trick play toss-pass to take it to 21-10. In the quick hitting first half that it was, Wake immediately answered with an AT Perry touchdown, bringing it back to 21-17, Orange still in front.

On the last meaningful drive of the half, Wake executed the two-minute drill well, but was aided by a Hartman strip that bounced directly to a Wake running back, as well as what could have been a Jatius Geer sack on Hartman that somehow turned into a completion. The drive ended in an AT Perry touchdown, giving the Deacs their first lead of the game, 24-21, a score they went into the locker room with.

Wake was stalled coming out of the break, while Syracuse started moving the ball a bit. A very broken play on a Josh Ilaoa errant snap left the Orange with 23 yards to gain, which Shrader almost got with his legs but the punt was sent back to Wake. They took advantage with a long drive, capped by Sam Hartman finding Keshawn Williams in the endzone to complete the Wake drive, 31-21 to the Demon Deacons.

To open the fourth, Wake punched it in, giving them the 38-21 lead, effectively punching the Orange ticket back home on the evening. The Quinton Cooley score put the Orange on the backseat and needing some life from the offense. To pour salt in the wound, Jakob Bradford whiffed on the ensuing play, allowing Shrader to get his arm hit while throwing and ending with a Wake Forest Brenden Harris pick six, 45-21.

The Orange struck back with a LeQuint Allen 41-yard reception that gave the team some semblance of hope at 45-28. A Demon Deacons couldn’t capitalize on the next drive, giving the Orange a ever so remote chance and the offense the ball with around six to play. A long Tucker run and Shrader calling his own number into the endzone brought it to 45-35. Ultimately the Deacs killed the game, milking the clock to put this one to bed.

On the day, the Orange looked far improved from the prior schedule. The new look offensive line was relatively offensive, but the rest of the unit actually seemed back on track. The line was primarily a combination of new bodies and lack of familiarity, but could have been much worse on the day. Garrett Shrader went 17-31 for 324 yards in the air, one touchdown and one interception, pacing Hartman in the air on the day. LeQuint Allen did have his one pass, one touchdown performance. Tucker got back on track with a 106 yard, two touchdown performance, and a plethora of wideouts mentioned above got a variety of looks and targets. Marlowe Wax led the defense with 13 tackles, Anwar Sparrow with 12 of his own, and Alijah Clark with 11. Caleb Okechukwu had a 1.5 sack effort as well.

After another rough one, the Orange have a final chance to go over .500 on the year as they close the season at Boston College next week at 8pm.