Garrett Shrader had three touchdown passes and a rushing score Saturday as Syracuse topped visiting Wake Forest 35-31 in the regular-season finale for both Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
In its first game since firing coach Dino Babers, Syracuse (6-6, 2-6 ACC) gained bowl eligibility under the guidance of interim coach Nunzio Campanile. Jason Simmons Jr. intercepted Demon Deacons quarterback Michael Kern in the end zone with two minutes left to essentially clinch the victory.
Shrader finished 10 of 15 for 173 yards with 46 more yards on the ground. Orange tight end Dan Villari caught a touchdown and passed for a score, while Damien Alford had 126 receiving yards and caught two TDs and LeQuint Allen ran for 144 yards.
Kern went 17 of 24 for 261 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for Wake Forest (4-8, 1-7). Taylor Morin caught seven passes for 140 yards, while Wesley Grimes had two TD grabs.
The Orange opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on Shrader’s 35-yard pass to Alford. The Demon Deacons answered promptly as Kern’s 48-yard pass to Morin set up a 16-yard pass to Grimes to draw the visitors even.
Shrader’s 1-yard TD plunge early in the second quarter regained a 14-7 lead for Syracuse. However, Wake Forest drove down the field for a 36-yard field goal by Tyler Black.
The Orange had a chance to extend their advantage in the waning seconds of the first half, but Shrader hit Allen inbounds, short of the end zone, and the remaining seconds ticked off.
Early in the third quarter, Villari threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Alford, who got behind the defense for a 21-10 advantage.
Justice Ellison’s 2-yard TD run got Wake Forest within four points, but Syracuse restored an 11-point cushion on Villari’s one-handed touchdown grab from Shrader early in the fourth.
On the next Wake Forest play, Kern hit Morin for 59 yards, setting up his 16-yard scoring strike to Jahmal Banks on the next snap.
The teams exchanged touchdowns again later in the fourth – Shrader’s 37-yard pass to Umari Hatcher, followed by Kern’s 9-yard TD pass to Grimes – setting up the exciting finish.
–Field Level Media