On the second snap from scrimmage, Broncos’ running back Jalen Buckley cut right towards the outside, found open space, and took off all the way to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Dome crowd deflated so fast you’d have thought it was the old bubble roof collapsing.
Fortunately, that was the only scoring-induced silence of the afternoon, as the Syracuse Orange offense quickly woke up and decimated the WMU secondary in a 48-7 victory.
The other early gasp was injury related, as after a 10-yard reception in their first series, SU’s Oronde Gadsden went down with an apparent ankle injury. Gadsden was taken to the locker room and later reappeared on the sidelines with crutches and a walking boot. We’ll ask Dino Babers for an update postgame.
Damien Alford had a wide-open touchdown on that same drive...if he didn’t drop Garrett Shrader’s pass at the last second. SU settled for a 36-yard field goal from Brady Denaburg.
The Mob defense had a much better second series, forcing a pair of incompletions from Broncos’ QB Jack Salopek in a three-and-out. A shallow punt combined with D’Marcus Adams’s return brought the ball to the 50, and after a brief scuffle on the WMU sideline, the Orange went back to work.
Alford made up for his drop with a nice toe-tapping catch on the sideline, and Isaiah Jones hauled in a deep shot just short of the goal line, setting up a 1-yard TD run from RB1 LeQuint Allen. That gave SU the lead for good.
On their next drive, Shrader needed just one play, unloading a spiral to freshman speedster Donovan Brown. #87 made the catch and quickly switched directions, cutting across the field in a flash and flying towards the end zone for his first career touchdown.
86 YARDS TO THE HOUSE— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) September 9, 2023
Garrett Shrader to Donovan Brown for the wideout's first career TD
The Orange were hesitant to use the run game in the early goings, but their three second quarter touchdowns were all on the ground. First, Shrader saw a barren middle of the field and took off, shrugging off a pair of last-ditch tackles for an 18-yard touchdown. That was Shrader’s sixth overall TD of the young season, but only his first with his legs.
Shrader’s arm and Jones’s hands repeatedly set up the Orange in goal-to-go scenarios, and Allen was happy to keep converting them. He rushed in from one and two yards out, respectively, for the next two ‘Cuse scores.
In the closing seconds before the half, WMU desperately tried to put something together and get some momentum heading back down the tunnels, but instead they gave SU one final exclamation point. Salopek overthrew his target... right into the hands of senior safety Jason Simmons Jr., who took it back for his first career pick-six as time expired.
Denaburg also made a 36-yard FG in the third quarter, giving us the 48-7 final score.
Shrader finished 19/30 with 286 yards and two total touchdowns on the day. Jones and Umari Hatcher both had five catches and combined for 169 receiving yards, while outside of his goal-line heroics, Allen had a very quiet day (20 yards). Juwaun Price led the team with 68 yards on the ground, mostly in the second half.
The Orange defense picked up four sacks and six tackles-for-loss on the afternoon, with Derek McDonald, Stefon Thompson, Kevon Darton, and Anwar Sparrow all getting to the opposing QB behind the line. Jeremiah Wilson impressed in man coverage with a pair of pass breakups, building off his own pick-six from Week 1.
RT David Wohlabaugh Jr. was taken out of the game in the second quarter - he was also later seen with crutches. Here’s hoping the two new injuries are not severe.
Syracuse hits the road next week for a primetime match-up against the Purdue Boilermakers.