Sep 23, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Devaughn Cooper (7) catches a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse hosts Wagner in search of first 5-0 start since 1987

After heart-thumping wins in each of the last two weeks, Syracuse wouldn’t mind a more relaxing victory Saturday when FCS foe Wagner comes to town.

The Orange are trying to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1987. They trounced Louisville and UConn in their first two games before slipping past Purdue in the final seconds and then getting by Virginia 22-20 in the waning minutes last Friday.

Looking forward, this could be a “trap game” for the Orange, as they face ranked opponents in five of their next six games. The only matchup in that stretch against a non-ranked foe comes against Notre Dame, which was ranked as high as No. 5 earlier in the season.

“This game is, to me, a tricky game for us. Our team has to really stay locked in,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said.

He especially wants his team to focus on cleaning up its offensive execution. The Orange were thrilled to win against the Cavaliers despite committing four turnovers.

“We’re really fortunate to come out with the win. We’re excited about that,” Babers said after defeating Virginia. “The play was not perfect, that’s for sure. But the record is.”

The Seahawks’ record, meanwhile, is far from perfect. Wagner has lost its first three games by a combined 96 points. They have scored a total of 14 points in their last two games and are coming off a 27-7 loss to St. Francis (Pa.).

But the Seahawks are coming off a bye week, so coach Tom Masella is hoping the extra rest gives his team an advantage.

“I thought we had a good week of practice last week,” Masella said on the Wagner College TD Club Coaches Show. “We got some young kids some reps, but we had to get better fundamentally, and I thought our kids had a good week last week.”

The Orange, on the other hand, are averaging 33.3 points per game behind quarterback Garrett Shrader (eight touchdowns, one interception) and wideout Oronde Gadsden II (19 catches, 300 yards, three TDs).

That said, Syracuse already has lost four starters to season-ending injuries, so their depth could be challenged as the season moves along.

“We’re averaging losing a starter per game,” Babers said. “Backups who are now starters have done a really, really good job based off the people we’re playing, but starting with this week, if we’re gonna continue losing one a game, I don’t know how that’s gonna look. I don’t know how that crystal ball looks in the end.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) runs with the ball for a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Szmyt’s five field goals allow Syracuse to top Virginia

Andre Szmyt tied the Syracuse record by making five field goals, including the decisive boot with 1:14 remaining, as the host Orange nipped Virginia 22-20 on Friday evening.

Syracuse (4-0, 2-0 ACC) benefited from a third-down facemask penalty on Virginia (2-2, 0-1) on the final drive. Shortly thereafter, Garrett Shrader’s 12-yard scramble set up Szmyt for the winning kick.

The Cavaliers drove to near midfield on their last-minute drive, but Brennan Armstrong’s final two passes fell incomplete.

Shrader finished 22 of 33 for 277 yards with an interception and a rushing score for the Orange, who won despite committing four turnovers. Oronde Gadsden II led Syracuse with seven catches for 113 yards.

Armstrong went 19 of 38 for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Perris Jones contributed 87 rushing yards and a touchdown for Virginia, which committed two turnovers, missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked.

Trebor Pena ignited Syracuse by returning the game’s opening kickoff 57 yards. The Orange offense needed only five plays to cover the final 41 yards, capped by a 17-yard TD scramble by Shrader.

The Cavaliers then missed field goals on consecutive possessions as Brendan Farrell was wide right from 50 and then from 48. Following the second miss, the Orange drove 11 plays and Szmyt kicked a 26-yarder to make it 10-0.

Armstrong fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, setting up Syracuse deep in Virginia territory. The Orange generated no offense on that drive, but Szmyt drilled a 32-yard field goal for a 13-0 cushion.

The senior kicker booted another field goal late in the first half to make it 16-0.

Keytaon Thompson got Virginia on the board on the opening drive of the second half, plunging in from 1 yard out. Pena fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Cavaliers were back in the end zone two plays later, this time on a 4-yard run by Jones.

The Orange then converted three third downs — including a third-and-18 — as part of a 14-play drive that Szmyt punctuated with a 40-yard field goal in the final minute of the third quarter.

The score remained 19-13 until Virginia scored on fourth-and-goal from the 4 with 5:51 remaining in the contest. Armstrong found Lavel Davis Jr. over the middle for the TD, and the extra point put the visitors in front.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (6) avoids a tackle by Purdue Boilermakers defensive tackle Branson Deen (58) in the third quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse eyes 4-0 start as Virginia visits in ACC matchup

Fresh off dramatic victories their last time out, Syracuse and visiting Virginia convene Friday evening for a prime-time Atlantic Coast Conference showdown.

Syracuse (3-0, 1-0 ACC) remained unbeaten with a thrilling 32-29 triumph against Purdue last weekend. Garrett Shrader found Oronde Gadsden II for the decisive touchdown with seven seconds left, capping a 22-point fourth-quarter performance by the Orange.

Shrader and Gadsden hooked up six times for 112 yards and two scores as part of a team performance that coach Dino Baabers believes could propel his program forward.

“This is a spiritual-type game here,” Babers said. “To win a game like that, to have the scoreboard go back and forth from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, through the highs and lows. … There were turns, there were deep valleys and then there were big climbs.”

Virginia (2-1, 0-0) is coming off an exciting victory of its own — a 16-14 win over Old Dominion in which Brendan Farrell kicked the winning 26-yard field goal as time expired.

Brennan Armstrong threw for 284 yards — 118 to Keytaon Thompson — and Xavier Brown ran for 88 yards on nine carries for the Cavaliers. Brown, a freshman tailback, is averaging 7.2 yards per carry on 17 attempts this season.

“As I told him in the locker room afterwards, I’m not a discriminator of age or whatever it may be,” Virginia coach Tony Elliott said. “If you’re the best guy, you’re the best guy. And right now, he’s running with the most tenacity out of all the guys.”

The Orange have a dynamic running back of their own in Sean Tucker, who ran for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Tucker rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the first two games this year, although he authored a quiet Week 3 performance with just 42 yards on 18 carries.

Friday will mark the sixth all-time matchup between the teams, with Virginia leading 3-2. The last meeting, in 2015, was a triple-overtime thriller in which the Cavaliers emerged with a 44-38 home victory.

–Field Level Media

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

Syracuse crushes UConn behind Garrett Schrader’s 5 TDs

Garrett Schrader threw three touchdowns and ran for two more to lead Syracuse to a 48-14 victory over host UConn on Saturday in East Hartford, Conn.

Schrader went 20-for-23 passing for 287 yards with touchdown throws of 47, 18 and 39 yards, in addition to carrying 13 times for 24 yards with scoring runs of one and seven yards.

Sean Tucker ran for a game-high 112 yards on 27 carries and a score. He also had four receptions for 17 yards for the Orange (2-0), while Oronde Gadsden II had three catches for 45 yards.

UConn (1-2) was led by quarterback Zion Turner, who went 14-for-17 passing for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Nate Carter rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries. Aaron Turner had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Leading 20-7 midway through the second quarter, the Orange put the game away when Schrader threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Jackson with 19 seconds left in the half.

The Orange’s defense set up Syracuse’s next score. After Marlowe Wax strip-sacked Zion Turner and recovered the fumble at UConn’s 30, Tucker scored on a two-yard run six plays later to push the lead to 34-7 with 9:30 left in the third quarter.

After Zion Turner’s 56-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Turner pulled UConn to within 34-14, Schrader answered with a seven-yard scoring run to make it 41-14 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

Schrader’s 39-yard touchdown pass to D’Marcus Adams made it 48-14 with 14:07 left in the game.

Syracuse took a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game on Schrader’s 1-yard touchdown run before Andre Szmyt’s 27-yard field goal increased the advantage with 4:26 left in the opening quarter.

The Orange capped their 17-point first-quarter outburst with Schrader’s 47-yard scoring strike to Damien Alford just over a minute later.

UConn responded in the second quarter when Devontae Houston’s 28-yard touchdown run capped a nine-play, 79-yard drive with 11:45 left in the half.

Szmyt’s 28-yard field goal midway through the second quarter pushed the Orange’s lead to 20-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange linebacker Stefon Thompson catches a pass  before a game against the Liberty Flames at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse loses LB Stefon Thompson, TE Chris Elmore

Syracuse lost starting linebacker Stefon Thompson and starting tight end Chris Elmore to season-ending injuries in Saturday’s 31-7 victory against Louisville.

Thompson had three tackles and a half-sack while Elmore did not catch a pass in the season-opening home win.

Head coach Dino Babers confirmed Monday that both players sustained lower-body injuries in the first half.

Thompson has 118 tackles, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 23 career games with the Orange.

The versatile Elmore has played in 52 games as a tight end, fullback, offensive lineman and defensive tackle.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs against Louisville Cardinals cornerback Jarvis Brownlee (12) in the first quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse steamrolls Louisville behind Sean Tucker

Sean Tucker scored two touchdowns and withstood an injury scare late in the first half as Syracuse never trailed and rolled to a 31-7 victory over Louisville Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Playing a season opener at home for the first time since 2017, Syracuse avenged last November’s 41-3 loss at Louisville by using a balanced attack.

Garrett Shrader began his first season as the full-time quarterback by completing 18 of 25 passes for 237 yards. Shrader threw for two touchdowns and also rushed for a short TD midway through the fourth to essentially seal the game.

Tucker finished with 183 total yards from scrimmage and scored twice in the first half. He finished with six receptions for 85 yards and gained 98 yards on 21 carries before hearing “Heisman” chants from the crowd when he exited in the final minutes.

Tucker caught a 55-yard TD in the first quarter and scored on a 4-yard run early in the second. After his two TDs, he appeared to get hurt with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining before halftime.

Tucker was tackled by Louisville safety Kenderick Duncan following a short gain and took a knee to his leg trying to gain more. Tucker eventually walked off under his own power and returned for the second half.

Syracuse’s defense forced three turnovers by Louisville dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham on three straight second-half possessions. Cunningham was intercepted by Garrett Williams and Derek McDonald and lost a fumble that was recovered by Steve Linton.

Cunningham completed 16 of 22 passes for 152 yards. He also was held to 34 rushing yards while getting sacked three times.

Tiyon Evans’ 36-yard run accounted for the Cardinals’ lone TD, while Tyler Hudson had eight receptions for 102 yards for Louisville.

After taking the lead on Andre Szmyt’s field goal with 9:46 remaining in the first, the Orange hiked their lead to 10-0 when Tucker caught a screen pass and raced down the right side with 5:01 remaining.

Louisville scored with 70 seconds left in the first when Evans scored, but Syracuse took its second 10-point lead with 10:25 remaining in the second when Tucker scored and then pulled away in the fourth when Oronde Gadsden II caught an 8-yard TD and Shrader scored from six yards out.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; General view of the Carrier Dome prior to the game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Syracuse Orange. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Report: New sponsor means name change for Carrier Dome

One of the best-known venue names in college sports is being retired.

Sportico reported Friday that the Carrier Dome, which houses Syracuse football and basketball, will be renamed after JWA Wireless, with an official announcement anticipated in the next few weeks.

Syracuse bought out the old agreement, seeking a more lucrative naming-rights pact, according to the report.

In 1979, air-conditioning company Carrier, founded and then based in Syracuse, N.Y., gave the university $2.75 million in exchange for lifetime naming rights to the new facility.

JWA Wireless is a Syracuse-based technology company. It is unclear how much it will pay for the naming rights.

Last year, Washington State secured a 10-year agreement with the Gesa Credit Union to sponsor its football field in a deal worth at least $11 million. And healthcare company MVP agreed to a five-year, $10 million deal for the naming rights at the downtown arena in Albany, N.Y., where Siena plays its home basketball games.

With a much more recognizable building and university, Syracuse’s financial agreement with JWA Wireless likely will well exceed both of those contract values.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) runs from North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive back Joshua Pierre-Louis (19) after making a catch in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Syracuse WR Taj Harris transferring to Rutgers

Former Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris announced Friday he is transferring to Rutgers.

The New Jersey native posted his commitment to the Scarlet Knights on Twitter: “Jersey I’m home.”

Harris entered the transfer portal in early October after catching 16 passes for 171 yards through three games in 2021.

He set Syracuse freshman records for receptions (40) and receiving yards (565) in 2018 and earned All-ACC third-team honors in 2020.

Harris finished his four-year Orange career with 151 catches for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns in 37 games. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media

Former coordinator, Syracuse coach Greg Robinson dies at 70

Former NFL defensive coordinator and Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson died Wednesday. He was 70.

His son, Dominic, told Syracuse.com that his father died of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Robinson served as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos from 1995-2000 and was part of two Super Bowl winning teams (1997 and 1998). He also spent five seasons with the New York Jets (1990-94) — the final season as defensive coordinator — and ran the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense from 2001-03.

He was co-defensive coordinator for Texas in 2004 when that school went 11-1.

Robinson became head coach at Syracuse the following season but went just 10-37 in four seasons before being dismissed late in the 2008 season. Five of the victories were later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

His final coaching job was as defensive coordinator of San Jose State (2014-15).

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Dynamic duo lead No. 17 Pitt to win at Syracuse

Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison wrapped up their outstanding regular seasons in style, connecting for two more touchdowns Saturday to lead No. 17 Pittsburgh to a 31-14 road win over Syracuse.

Pickett went 28 of 38 for 209 yards with four touchdowns and an interception, giving the senior signal-caller 40 TDs against seven picks this season. Addison racked up 11 catches for 81 yards and two scores in this one, bringing the sophomore standout to 85 catches for 1,353 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year.

Rodney Hammond Jr. and Gavin Bartholomew also had TD grabs for Pitt (10-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which reached double-digit regular-season wins for the first time since 1981. The Panthers will play Wake Forest in the ACC title game next weekend.

Syracuse (5-7, 2-6) needed a win to reach a bowl game but didn’t muster much offense after jumping out to an early 7-0 lead. Garrett Shrader went 17 of 24 for 217 yards with two touchdowns, both to Courtney Jackson.

Sean Tucker, who set the Orange’s single-season rushing record last week, was held to a season-low 29 yards on 13 carries. It was only the third time all year the freshman was limited to less than 100 yards on the ground.

Shrader’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Jackson gave the hosts an early 7-0 advantage before Pitt tied things up midway through the second quarter as Pickett found Hammond for a 15-yard score. Less than three minutes later, the Panthers went ahead on Pickett’s 25-yard strike to Addison.

Pickett padded the lead with a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes. He hit Bartholomew from 4 yards out to make it 21-7 on the opening drive of the second half, and then he and Addison connected from 5 yards out to create a 28-7 cushion with 4:45 left in the period.

Shrader and Jackson hooked up for a 15-yard touchdown to draw the Orange within 14 points with 2:03 left in the third, but that was as close as they got. A fourth-quarter field goal by Pitt completed the scoring.

–Field Level Media