clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse football struggles early against Clemson, can’t recover in 31-14 loss

SU dug too deep a hole to climb out of in a draining defeat.

Clemson v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

In a chance to make a statement, Syracuse Orange football instead stuck with the status quo.

A combination of bad execution, penalties, poor clock management, and just awful luck set SU back too far to recover from, as Dabo Swinney’s Tigers picked up a 31-14 win over the home squad today.

Clemson won the coin toss and deferred to the Orange, but it didn’t take long for them to get the ball back. Garrett Shrader scrambled forward for a huge gain, akin to many of his big plays at Purdue two weeks ago. However, Shrader refused to slide and tried to fight through contact, and he instead took a massive blindside hit and coughed up the ball.

Clemson recovered, and after a possible targeting call was overruled, the Tigers’ offense marched straight to the endzone.

Jeremiah Wilson got called for an early defensive pass interference, and from there, Cade Klubnik took over this game. An eight-play, 55-yard drive ended with an on-the-run strike to Troy Stellato in the endzone. Isaiah Johnson nearly got to Cade on the corner blitz, but he sidestepped a tackle attempt and got the throw off.

The 14-yard touchdown was the first of Stellato’s career, and Klubnik’s 10th through the air. It wouldn’t be his last.

On the first play of the very next drive, Shrader poorly tossed the ball back to LeQuint Allen. He couldn’t handle it cleanly, and the fumble was taken all the way back to the three by Clemson’s Xavier Thomas.

Klubnik then fed the ball to Will Shipley, and two plays later, the Clemson lead had doubled to 14-0.

The Orange counterattack finally began on attempt number three. There’s really only one name you need to know: THUNDER DAN VILLARI.

We at TNIAAM have been waiting for a big tight end for ages and we finally saw one utilized today. Villari first had a 37-yard catch and run to cross midfield. After a failed trick play where Donovan Brown was open, but dropped a pass from the former QB, the 6’4”, 235 lbs. now-TE shook off three tackles while barreling across the goal line.

On the next series, the Orange forced a huge stop on 4th-and-1 at the five, giving the offense a chance to tie the game. However, they sputtered once across midfield, and Brady Denaburg missed a hurried 57-yard field goal attempt to keep things at 14-7.

Klubnik went back to work and found Beaux Collins open for a 46-yard strike. Wilson, who was in man coverage on the play, was fooled by a double move and had no chance to catch up once the ball was over his head.

Before halftime, Klubnik threw a 30-yard rocket across his body to find true freshman Tyler Brown as part of a drive into field goal range. Brown finished with eight catches for 151 yards in an early career-game.

The kick, however, missed, and the Orange went into the locker room only down two scores.

The Mob defense stood tall through the second half, forcing several stops and doing everything they possibly could to keep this a game. Ultimately, it just wasn’t enough.

Shrader did get another touchdown in the 4th quarter, hitting Allen in the corner of the endzone. Other than that, there was nothing doing for Jason Beck’s unit.

Shrader threw a pick to Jeremiah Trotter with around seven minutes left, then Clemson’s RB2 Phil Mafah scored a 32-yard rushing TD on the very next play to end whatever comeback thoughts remained.

The Orange will now begin a month-long road trip, with stops at UNC, FSU, and Virginia Tech.