Syracuse, NY—Syracuse head coach Dino Babers must be growing grey hair the last few weeks with all of these Cuse games cutting close to the wire.
Syracuse place-kicker Andre Szymt missed a 48-yard field goal attempt with 38 seconds left in the game, which would of tied it but it was just wide left. Clemson held off Syracuse 17-14 on Friday night in the Carrier Dome.
This is the 10th time Syracuse and Clemson played and their fifth time meeting at the Dome. Clemson now holds a 8-2 advantage in the series. The squads have played each year since the Orangemen joined the ACC in 2013.
“Until our offense grows up a little bit. We’ve got to find a way to win,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “Four one-possession games in a row, if that’s who we are, that’s who we are. We’re just going to keep grinding.”
Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei passed for 181 yards and one touchdown, Kobe Pace rushed for 76 yards and a score but Syracuse’s 3-4 blitzing defense kept Uiagalelei uncomfortable in the pocket.
Clemson (4-2, 3-1 ACC), are coming off a bye week and they’re not ranked by the AP yet, they still have a lot to prove to the college world going forward.
If Syracuse (3-4, 0-3 ACC) wants to change their season around, they have to find a way to play sixty minutes of sound football without turning the ball over in the fourth quarter.
Uiagalelei, who finished the contest 21 of 34 passing, marched the Tigers on a 13-play, 58-yard scoring drive that broke a 7-7 tie closing out the second quarter. The drive was jump started by a fake punt on a fourth-and-5 when punter Will Spiers hit tight end Davis Allen for 17-yards down the right sideline. Uiagalelei got into a rhythm then hit Ajou Ajou with an 11-yarder to the Cuse 13-yard line and followed up with a 6-yarder to Justyn Ross to set up Pace’s 2-yard power run for a touchdown with nine seconds left before the break to take a 14-7 lead.
Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader hit Trebor Pena for a 62-yard touchdown just over two minutes after B.T. Potter blasted a 40-yard field goal that gave Clemson a comfortable 17-7 lead.
“Disappointed is an understatement,” said Shrader. “We know that we could have and we feel like we should have beat all three of those teams, especially today. We’re right there, even today with as bad as we played on offense.”
Syracuse running back Sean Tucker had 157 yards rushing on 22 carries giving the Tigers fits all game long between the tackles.
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead early in the the second quarter by way of a personal foul called against Cuse linebacker Mikel Jones. Uiagalelei ran up the middle for 10-yards, then hit receiver Joseph Ngata in the right corner of the end zone. Ngata caught the ball falling with a toe inside the line.
Syracuse tied the game at 7 three minutes later behind their talented back. Tucker broke through a gaping hole with a jump cut sprinting down the left side before being brought down at the 2-yard line for a 39-yard gain. Shrader walked into the end zone untouched on the next play, just the second rushing touchdown allowed this season by Clemson.
Tucker entered the contest ranked second nationally with 791 rushing yards, second with 131.8 yards per game and was the national leader in all-purpose yards (165.83). He needs 52 yards to reach 1,000. The last Syracuse running back to reach that 1,000-yard milestone was Jerome Smith, who ran for 1,254 yards in 2012.
“This will take a little time to get over,” said Syracuse coach Babers. “The way these guys are fighting. They’re fighting hard. It’s exciting and it’s disappointing at the same time.”
HONORING FLOYD LITTLE:
Syracuse University held a tribute to honor the life of Floyd Little during halftime intermission. The football team wore a commemorative logo this season to honor the legendary Cuse running back, and it was placed on the field near the 30-yard line on both ends. Little’s wife DeBorah and daughter, Christy, spoke briefly about Floyd’s impact and love for the university and the Central New York community during the halftime presentation.
Clemson travels to Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.
Syracuse is at Virginia Tech on Oct. 23.