Chapel Hill, N.C. — Syracuse had its chances on offense against the Tar Heels, but the offense could not get on the same page. Even with a backdrop section of empty seats the Orangemen could not get their offense in gear.
On 33% of the first-down rushing attempts Syracuse gained nothing or lost yardage and the longest run of the day was a 15-yard keeper from their quarterback Tommy DeVito.
North Carolina Javonte Williams ran for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the 18th-ranked UNC beat Syracuse 31-6 on Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
After a game-opening touchdown drive, the Tar Heels (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) got sidetracked with turnovers and penalties before settling down in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we probably scored too quickly and felt like it was going to be an easy day, and then had some lapses against a new defense,” coach Mack Brown said, adding: “We settled down after halftime and became the offense that we thought we wanted to be coming into the ballgame.”
In the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels just pounded the ball down the Orangemen throats. Williams bounced off a tackler and scored from 6-yard out to helped UNC turn a 10-6 lead into a 25-point explosion.
“I think this game really helped us because it showed us football is and we got back in our groove,” Williams said.
Cuse’s offense looked out of sync all game long, got the bare minimum from its running game unless it came by Devito’s legs scrambling to keep plays alive. Don Bosco Prep DeVito completed just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards while getting sacked seven times, as the Orange (0-1, 0-1) also had 30 yards rushing on 16 carries, but a bulk of those were forced as a result of breakdowns in coverage and pass protection problems.
“The bottom line is they had a convincing win over us,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “We’ve got an idea of where we’re at now. I still think we’re good. Now we need to go back and work on some things and bring some other people along.”
“I think the biggest thing is you win as a team and you lose as a team,” Babers said. “Obviously, you are trying to put everything together. We had a situation in the first quarter where it was fourth and 1. We could have kicked for a field goal right there, made it a 7-6 game, but we knew what kind of game it was going to be at the end. When you are in the red zone and get an opportunity like that, you punch one in you really can get the momentum going early. I thought the defense did a fantastic job.”
The NCAA denied Florida transfer Chris Bleich’s waiver was a major blow to an offensive line that already had questions coming into the season.
The Orange needs junior guard Dakota Davis back ASAP from his injury to help solidify the line and make them least competitive.
DeVito needs receivers that can get open on the fly especially when he is under pressure. Hackett and Benson combined for nine touchdowns last season. Syracuse was 4-of-19 on third down.
Even when DeVito found some rhythm and open lines to throw, his receivers let him down often.
Jawhar Jordan and Markenzy Pierre totaled just 38 yards on 19 carries.
“I thought timing was off, obviously,” Babers said. “You had some guys in the end zone that put the ball on the ground. Couple balls were thrown to guys and they just caught it and fell down. There was a bunch of cuts out there. Guys were cutting off the inside foot. No one can cut off the inside foot and stay up. Even the great ones. Once I think we go back and work on these things, not only from an offensive standpoint, but defensively we are going to get a lot better.”