Oct 15, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) tries to move past North Carolina State Wolfpack cornerback Derrek Pitts Jr. (24) in the second quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Syracuse remains undefeated with 24-9 win over No. 15 NC State

Garrett Shrader and Oronde Gadsden II hooked up for two touchdowns in front of a raucous home crowd Saturday as No. 18 Syracuse defeated 15th-ranked North Carolina State 24-9 to remain undefeated.

Sean Tucker ran for 98 yards and a touchdown for the Orange (6-0, 3-0 ACC), while Shrader finished 16 of 25 with two TDs and two INTs. Gadsden racked up 141 yards on eight catches as Syracuse outgained NC State 389-255.

Jack Chambers went 18 of 30 for 160 yards without a touchdown or an interception for NC State (5-2, 1-2). The Wolfpack played without starting quarterback Devin Leary, who suffered a season-ending injury during last week’s game against Florida State.

Chambers also led the visitors with 58 rushing yards in this one, while teammate Jordan Houston had 44 rushing yards on 12 attempts.

The first touchdown pass from Shrader to Gadsden was a 12-yard strike just over two minutes into the game. The teams then exchanged punts before the Wolfpack got on the board on a 20-yard field goal by Christopher Dunn.

The offenses quieted down for a while from there, as the only scoring of the second quarter was a 22-yard field goal by Syracuse’s Andre Szmyt.

The third quarter featured a 42-yard field goal by Dunn to get NC State within 10-6 midway through the period. But the Orange answered on the following possession, marching 78 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 17-yard TD connection from Shrader to Gadsden.

The Wolfpack then took 9 1/2 minutes off the clock, bridging the final two quarters, in a marathon 18-play drive that ended with Dunn’s 36-yard field goal. That made it a 17-9 game with 6:58 to go.

However, the hosts sealed the outcome with a 25-yard rushing touchdown by Tucker, who sprinted untouched down the left sideline to keep the Orange unblemished on the season.

Chambers drove the Wolfpack into the red zone on the game’s final possession, but his fourth-down pass was incomplete as the final buzzer sounded.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Jack Chambers (14) runs the ball during the second half against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Defense on display as No. 18 Syracuse hosts No. 15 NC State

The two best defenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference will be on display Saturday when No. 18 Syracuse hosts No. 15 North Carolina State.

The surprising Orange (5-0, 2-0) have the top-ranked defense in the conference, allowing 271.6 yards per game. The Wolfpack (5-1, 1-1) aren’t far behind at 297.8 yards per game, setting up an intriguing matchup between two tough squads.

They also rank 1-2 in scoring defense.

“This is 15 rounds. Heavyweight,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers. “There’s going to be some slugging. There’ll be some shots. You’re going to get hit hard and how you handle that is going to affect the game. That’s for everyone that’s out there on the football field. It’ll be a physical contest.”

Both teams have been impressive on offense, as well. Syracuse is averaging 38.4 points, punctuated by a 59-0 rout of FCS foe Wagner in their last contest. The Orange were so dominant that the teams agreed to go to 10-minute quarters in the second half with Syracuse up 49-0 at intermission.

NC State, meanwhile, is averaging 30.5 points on the season. The Wolfpack are coming off their lowest offensive total in a 19-17 home win over Florida State, although the team lost quarterback Devin Leary to an arm injury in the third quarter and had to rely on backup Jack Chambers to pull out the close victory.

Chambers threw only one pass in relief of Leary but guided three drives that resulted in field goals as the Wolfpack rallied from a 17-3 deficit. They trailed 17-10 when Chambers entered the game and the three field goals proved to be enough.

“How about Jack Chambers?” NC State coach Dave Doeren said. “I mean, unbelievable. He’ll be a fan favorite forever now, right? Nobody knew him. They’re going to know him now.”

Chambers contributed 39 rushing yards as part of a 182-yard rushing performance for the Wolfpack. Jordan Houston led the way with 90 yards on the ground and paced receivers with two catches for 41 yards.

It wasn’t clear as of Tuesday whether Chambers or Leary will be under center this weekend.

For Syracuse, on the other hand, Saturday’s signal-caller definitely will be Garrett Shrader, who went 17 of 17 for 238 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Wagner. He also chipped in a rushing score, his fifth of the season to go along with his 10 passing TDs and only one interception.

“He’s made himself very dangerous,” Babers said of Shrader. “You have to pick your poison … with the guys that he has around him. He’s taken advantage of his situation and he’s playing at a very, very high level.”

The teams have met 15 times previously with the Wolfpack earning 13 victories, including each of the past three years. Last season’s matchup was a 41-17 pounding as Leary threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns.

Shrader was 8 of 20 for 63 yards and an interception in that contest.

“There was a lot of complementary football there,” Doeren said after last year’s convincing win. “It’s pretty cool to be in a game where you score in all three phases of the game.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball with Wagner Seahawks defensive back Coby Calvin (7) defending during the first half at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse wallops Wagner to remain undefeated

Sean Tucker ran for a career-high 232 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as Syracuse thumped visiting Wagner 59-0.

Garrett Shrader finished 17 of 17 for 238 yards with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score for Syracuse, which improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1987.

FCS foe Wagner (0-4) was outgained 631-50, finishing with four first downs and nine punts. The Seahawks’ Ryan Kraft went 2 of 6 for 19 yards, including a pick-six by Orange cornerback Duce Chestnut.

The first half was a complete annihilation. Syracuse led 49-0 at halftime after outgaining Wagner 425-19. Tucker ran for 227 yards and three TDs in the opening half, and Shrader passed for two scores, ran for another and completed all 14 of his attempts for an even 200 yards.

Shrader’s 1-yard TD run started the party less than four minutes into the contest before Tucker unleashed touchdown runs of 60 and 4 yards later in the period. Shrader then threw a pair of second-quarter TD passes — a 16-yard strike to Umari Hatcher and a 22-yard pass to Devaughn Cooper — to make it 35-0 midway through the second quarter.

Thirty seconds later, Chestnut stepped in front of a pass by Kraft and jogged 28 yards to the end zone. The cherry on top of the first-half uprising was Tucker’s third TD — a 6-yard score with 3:01 left before intermission.

The first half was such a lopsided affair that the teams agreed to play 10-minute quarters in the second half.

Tucker was still playing when the third quarter began, perhaps in hopes of setting the school’s single-game rushing record, but he walked off with an injury early in the period. LeQuint Allen replaced him in the backfield and quickly scored from 8 yards out to make it 56-0.

Allen then uncorked a 90-yard run on the Orange’s next possession, setting up a short field goal by Andre Szmyt. Earlier in the night, the first-half barrage of extra points helped Szmyt become the 28th kicker in FBS history to reach 400 career points.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Devin Mockobee (45) runs for a touchdown against the Syracuse Orange in the first quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse scores late TD to slay Purdue

Garrett Shrader found Oronde Gadsden II for the decisive 25-yard touchdown with seven seconds left, lifting host Syracuse to a wild 32-29 victory over Purdue on Saturday afternoon.

Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell found Payne Durham for a go-ahead touchdown with 51 seconds to go, but the Boilermakers (1-2) committed a 15-yard penalty on the extra point and were assessed another 15-yard penalty when their coach argued with officials, forcing them to kick off from their own 10-yard line.

That gave the ball to the Orange (3-0) at midfield with 45 seconds to play.

The Syracuse offense couldn’t muster much until a pass interference penalty gave them some much-needed momentum. On the next play, Shrader found Gadsden near the left pylon for the winning score.

O’Connell finished 38 of 54 for 415 yards with three touchdowns — two to Durham (nine catches, 83 yards) and one to Charlie Jones (10 catches, 179 yards).

Shrader went 13 of 29 for 181 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. He also led the team with 83 rushing yards. Gadsden totaled 112 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.

Trailing 9-3, the Orange finally got moving midway through the third quarter, as the hosts embarked on a 16-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Shrader’s 3-yard TD pass to Isaiah Jones on third-and-goal with 2:11 remaining in the period.

The Boilermakers responded with O’Connell’s 11-yard TD pass to Durham. That put the visitors ahead 15-10, but the ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful when O’Connell’s pass to a wide-open Charlie Jones hit the crossbar in the back of the end zone.

The Orange went back ahead as Shrader found a wide-open Gadsden for a 46-yard score on a fourth-and-1 play. Shrader scrambled for the two-point conversion, and Syracuse led 18-15 with 8:17 remaining.

The Orange then extended their lead to 25-15 on a 17-yard pick-six by defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu, but the Boilermakers came right back on O’Connell’s 55-yard bomb to Charlie Jones to create a three-point margin with 6:41 to go.

Purdue had a chance to draw even with about three minutes left, but Mitchell Fineran’s 41-yard field goal sliced to the right. However, the Boilermakers went back in front on their next possession, setting up the wild finish.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Surprising Syracuse takes on Purdue’s dynamic duo

After opening the season with back-to-back blowout victories, Syracuse is off to its best start in four years.

The Orange (2-0) hope their momentum continues Saturday afternoon when Purdue (1-1) pays a visit to the newly named JMA Dome.

Syracuse is beginning to resemble the 2018 squad that won its first four games and went on to post a 10-3 record — the only winning record so far in Dino Babers’ six seasons as Orange coach.

The Orange notched a 31-7 victory over Louisville in their season opener and then pounded UConn 48-14.

Garrett Shrader has completed 79.2 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Eleven different Syracuse players have caught a pass, led by dynamic running back Sean Tucker with 10 catches for 101 yards.

“Shrader does a nice job of picking and choosing his targets,” Babers said. “He’s been extremely accurate this year and his throwing percentages have been extremely high.”

While Shrader has spread the ball around, Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell has continued to show outstanding chemistry with Charlie Jones, who has a national-best 21 catches covering 286 yards and four TDs.

O’Connell and Jones played youth football together and were reunited when Jones transferred in from Iowa. In the 56-0 rout of Indiana State last week, they hooked up nine times for 133 yards and three scores.

“I think those two have proven that they can make big plays,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They are a big part of the offense. Just being consistent all year is going to be the key for them — and staying healthy.”

That said, Brohm wants the Boilermakers’ offense to become more diverse: When 72 percent of a quarterback’s passes are targeted to one receiver, Big Ten defenses will draw up ways to make things increasingly difficult.

“I think in order for us to continue to improve, we’ve got to get more and more guys involved,” Brohm continued, “and make sure that numerous guys can step up and make plays in key situations.”

The teams have only met once previously — in 2004. Purdue won that matchup over visiting Syracuse, 51-0.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) runs for a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals in the fourth quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off impressive opener, Syracuse visits UConn

Syracuse finally punched its bully in the mouth, and next the Orange will encounter a former rival Saturday when it visits Connecticut in nonleague action at East Hartford, Conn.

The Orange (1-0) had lost three straight matchups with Louisville by a combined 127-39 heading into their 2022 season opener. However, last Saturday’s affair featured a very different storyline as Syracuse trounced Louisville 31-7 in a crisp wire-to-wire victory.

“This is a bully that has beaten you up three times in the courtyard and you haven’t eaten for a while,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers. “He’s taking your money and your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You’re getting skinny and you need something to eat.

“It was great to finally get an opportunity to get a win against them and we’re going to take it.”

The Huskies also are coming off a resounding victory — a 28-3 triumph over Central Connecticut State on Saturday in which they evened their record at 1-1 following a 31-20 setback at Utah State in their season opener.

Freshman quarterback Zion Turner, making his first career start, threw a pair of touchdown passes against Central Connecticut State, an FCS foe. Turner came on in relief of Ta’Quan Roberson in Week 1 after the starting signal-caller suffered a torn ACL.

“In the second half (against Central Connecticut State), I started to play more freely, just let loose and just play a game of football instead of thinking too much,” Turner said. “This was a hard-fought win, but we know there’s a lot of mistakes made that we can correct and become a better team.”

Turner will continue to lean on Nathan Carter, who has rushed for 313 yards, averaging 7.3 yards a carry in the first two games.

Syracuse has a standout running back of its own in Sean Tucker, who led the Orange in both rushing yards (100) and receiving yards (84) against Louisville, scoring a pair of touchdowns.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader also enjoyed a splendid opener for Syracuse, completing 18 of 25 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns – with no interceptions – and gaining 94 yards on the ground with another score.

The teams met 10 times between 2004 and 2018 with the Huskies winning six of the first seven matchups and the Orange prevailing in the final three.

–Field Level Media

Malik Cunningham watches from the sidelines during practice at Cardinal Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2021

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Louisville looks to continue dominance of ’Cuse

Louisville and Syracuse, two teams looking to break through in the ACC Atlantic Division, square off Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

The host Orange feature Sean Tucker, the top rusher in the ACC last season. Even with Tucker’s school-record 1,496 yards, Syracuse won just five games last season in a rebound campaign from the forgettable 2020 (1-10).

“It really runs through that running back,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said of Tucker, who has gained 188 yards in two career games against Louisville.

Syracuse is 29-43 in six seasons under Dino Babers, with just 11 wins in the past three years. Last year, the Orange had the ACC’s worst passing offense. Garrett Shrader struggled at times after taking the starting job late in the season. He’s back, but the team is thin at quarterback after former starter Tommy DeVito left and won the starting job at Illinois and springtime standout Justin Lamson sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Louisville’s 41-3 victory over Syracuse in November helped the Cardinals secure a 6-6 regular-season record before they were edged by Air Force in a bowl game. The Cardinals are further heartened that three of their six losses came by one score.

The Cardinals are led by dynamic Malik Cunningham, the ACC’s top rushing quarterback, who will be trying to further balance up an offense that ranked eighth in the league in passing last season.

Cunningham returns after becoming the second quarterback in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards. He ranked fourth nationally and led the ACC with 20 rushing touchdowns while ranking 14th nationally in total offense.

Against Syracuse, Cunningham had five touchdowns in the first half last season.

“He’s an electrifying player,” Babers said of Cunningham. “When he steps on the field, traditionally he’s the best football player on the field on both sides.”

Despite being outscored by Louisville 71-3 in the past two meetings, Syracuse is showing a measure of outward confidence. At the ACC media day gathering in July, Syracuse linebacker Mikel Jones offered: “We see it as a good opportunity. We don’t think it’s going to be a tough challenge.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Syracuse Orange linebacker Mikel Jones (3) tackles Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville stifles Syracuse in 41-3 rout

Malik Cunningham threw four touchdowns and ran for another as host Louisville took control in the second quarter and rolled to a 41-3 rout of Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals posted an easy victory on the day 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s jersey was retired at haltime. Jackson joined Johnny Unitas as the second Louisville player to earn the honor.

When it came time for the retirement of Jackson’s No. 8 jersey, the Cardinals held a 35-3 lead, thanks to the efforts of Cunningham.

Cunningham, who was sidelined for part of the second half during last week’s loss to Clemson due to an ankle injury, scored on a 6-yard TD run with 9:13 remaining in the first quarter and then threw four touchdown passes before halftime.

He connected with Tyler Harrell on a 33-yard TD late in the first quarter and then found Ahmari Huggins-Bruce for TDs of 6 and 17 yards respectively. Huggins-Bruce’s TDs were sandwiched between a 41-yard TD pass to Jordan Watkins.

Cunningham completed 13 of 18 passes for 209 yards on a day when he rushed for a season-low 19 yards as Louisville’s offense totaled 382 yards and converted 17 first downs.

Two field goals from James Turner accounted for the other points as the Cardinals (5-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored at least 40 points for the second time this season and won for the second time in six games to move within one win of becoming bowl-eligible.

Cunningham also had help from Louisville’s defense, which bottled up Syracuse running back Sean Tucker and the Orange’s rushing attack, which entered the game leading the ACC with 247.7 rushing yards per game. Tucker entered the game at 1,267 rushing yards, which trailed Michigan State Kenneth Walker III’s by 63 yards.

Tucker was held to 95 yards and narrowly missed his eighth straight 100-yard game.

Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader was 10-for-18 for 46 yards. He also rushed 20 times for 43 yards and was sacked four times

Syracuse (5-5, 2-4) was unable to win a third straight game and unable to become bowl-eligible after going a combined 6-17 in the previous two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) breaks free from the Boston College Eagles defense in the fourth quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

RB Sean Tucker chases rushing title as Syracuse faces Louisville

A bye week afforded Syracuse star running back Sean Tucker a chance to relax, but it also saw him lose some ground to Michigan State standout Kenneth Walker III for the national rushing title.

Tucker is coming off his most productive game of the season and seeks an eighth straight 100-yard game Saturday afternoon as the Orange visit the Louisville Cardinals and attempt to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.

Tucker enters the final three games with 1,267 rushing yards, which trails Walker by 73 yards nationally. Tucker has eight 100-yard rushing games this season and totaled 207 yards on the ground when Syracuse overcame some early sluggishness in a 21-6 home win over Boston College two weeks ago.

“Sean knows what to do, it’s just making sure that he stays locked in and very seldom is he not,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said at his press conference Monday.

Against Boston College, Syracuse scored all its points in the third quarter when Tucker’s 51-yard TD run preceded a 48-yard touchdown run by quarterback Garrett Shrader and a 64-yard punt return by Courtney Jackson. The Orange scored their points in a span of 4:53 while gaining 293 yards on the ground after playing five straight games decided by five points or less.

Syracuse (5-4, 2-3 ACC) leads the ACC in rushing at 247.7 yards per game and has three chances to get its sixth win to clinch a bowl bid after going a combined 6-17 in the previous two seasons. If the Orange do not beat Louisville, their remaining games are against North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, which were ranked 19th and 25th respectively last week in the playoff rankings.

“It’s a very difficult task,” Baber said. “The three teams we have to play are outstanding.”

Louisville (4-5, 2-4) is looking for a strong finish to also get a chance at becoming bowl eligible. The Cardinals were 3-1 after their 31-23 win at Florida State on Sept. 25, but are 1-4 since with losses to Wake Forest, Virginia, NC State and Clemson.

Louisville is third in the ACC at 205.0 rushing yards per contest.

Quarterback Malik Cunningham leads the league with 15 rushing TDs and had two on Saturday, but the Cardinals allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter following Cunningham’s 51-yard TD run and took a 30-24 loss to Clemson.

“The guys are resilient,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “They just keep battling. At some point. I told them, ‘We’re really close, and at some point we’re going to get over the hump and you are going to start winning these games.’”

Cunningham also injured his ankle in the third quarter but returned in the fourth and got Louisville deep in the red zone before stumbling on a roll-out on fourth-and-goal with 10 seconds left.

“He took it hard, as we all did, but he’s doing good,” Satterfield said. “He’s in a much better place now.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett Shrader leads Syracuse past Virginia Tech

Garrett Shrader hit Damien Alford for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining to give Syracuse a 41-36 win over Virginia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday at Blacksburg, Va.

Syracuse trailed 36-27 late in the game, but cut Virginia Tech’s lead to 36-34 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Shrader to Courtney Jackson with 2:28 remaining.

After forcing a Virginia Tech punt, Syracuse (4-4, 1-3) got the ball back, converted a fourth-and-4 from its own 36-yard-line, and then won the game on Shrader’s pass to Alford.

Shrader accounted for five touchdowns in the game, going 16-of-34 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.

Malachi Thomas rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in defeat for Virginia Tech (3-4, 1-2).

Syracuse took a 27-26 lead with 13:35 remaining on a 3-yard touchdown run by Shrader, but Virginia Tech regained the lead at 29-27 with 10:54 left on a 33-yard field goal by John Parker Romo.

The Hokies then extended their lead to 36-27 with 5:36 left on a 47-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

Trailing 19-13 in the third quarter, Syracuse took a 20-19 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by Shrader with 11:13 remaining in the third.

The Hokies responded, taking a 26-20 lead with 6:52 left in the third on a 2-yard touchdown run by Thomas.

Virginia Tech went up 14-7 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Thomas with 14:02 to go in the second quarter.

Toward the end of the second, Syracuse closed within 14-13 on a 9-yard touchdown run by Shrader with 1:54 left in the second quarter, which capped off an 11-play, 98-yard drive.

But Virginia Tech’s Chamarri Conner blocked the extra point, which was returned all the way for two points by Dorian Strong to make it 16-13 Hokies.

–Field Level Media