Beleaguered Pack falls in Syracuse's ACC road debut
For the second straight week, Syracuse kept pounding away with run after run after run. This time, it powered the Orange to a win in the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference road game.
Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley each ran for more than 100 yards and a touchdown to help Syracuse beat N.C. State 24-10 on Saturday.
Smith finished with 140 yards and ran for a 1-yard score in the first quarter for the Orange (3-3, 1-1 ACC). Gulley ran for 132 yards and the 18-yard go-ahead score with 6:13 left, helping Syracuse pull away late.
“I challenged them to come down here and bring some of the North to the South and play physical hard-nosed football,” Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. “We talked about we thought we could run the ball on a good rush defense.”
A week after running for 323 yards against No. 3 Clemson, the Orange ran for 362 yards against the injury-ravaged Wolfpack (3-3, 0-3). The Orange’s 9.1 yards per carry Saturday was the second-best total in program history with at least 40 attempts.
“With (Shafer) being from Ohio and I’m an Ohio guy, too, that’s all we were talking about the whole week,” Gulley said. “’We’re going to run the ball. We’re going to do it like how we do it up North.’”
With the game tied at 10 in the fourth, Smith broke free for a 57-yard sprint up the middle. On the next play, Gulley ran around the right side for the 18-yard score that made it 16-10.
On Syracuse’s next possession, Gulley broke off a 48-yard run to crack the 100-yard mark despite getting just nine carries. That set up Terrel Hunt’s 8-yard keeper for a touchdown, making it 22-10 with 2:39 left to effectively seal the win.
“We missed a tackle, a guy got out of his gap and they split us,” first-year Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said of the big fourth-quarter runs from Smith and Gulley. “It happened twice. It was just two runs but they were huge plays. They cracked us right down the middle of our defense on an A-gap power play that we had been stopping.”
Smith and Gulley combined for four rushes of at least 30 yards Saturday, with Smith adding a 30-yarder in the first quarter and Gulley breaking free for a 55-yard gain in the third.
Syracuse ran for 127 yards on 22 carries through the first half, good for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Those numbers increased to 235 yards on 18 carries after halftime, good for an average of 13.1 yards per attempt.
“Coming into this game, we knew they had two great backs,” Wolfpack cornerback Dontae Johnson said. “We knew that was the main focus of their offensive attack. And we were just unable to stop it. We were able to contain it in the first two quarters, but we were unable to really buckle down and stop it when it really mattered the most.”
With Syracuse’s win, first-year ACC programs improved to 6-0 in their league road debuts since 1992, according to STATS. That includes Pittsburgh’s 58-55 win at Duke last month.
Pete Thomas threw for 151 yards and a touchdown in a frustrating performance for the Wolfpack, who reached the end zone only once and struggled to sustain drives all day.
There were also plenty of mistakes, too, from passing on a short first-half field goal only to come up empty on downs to Thomas overthrowing a wide-open Jumichael Ramos on a deep ball that could’ve gone for six in the third.
Doeren had hoped quarterback Brandon Mitchell would be ready to return from a broken left foot suffered in the season opener. He went through pregame warm-ups and was dressed on the sideline, but Doeren said afterward that Mitchell was “not himself” and wasn’t ready for this one.
Thomas banged up his left shoulder when he was hit on a sack and fumble recovery with about five minutes left, forcing him from the game. Doeren said Thomas was OK and that X-rays showed no fracture.
Already down five starters coming in, N.C. State lost four more key players to injury Saturday: Thomas, offensive tackle Joe Thuney, defensive back Jack Tocho (who had two interceptions) and defensive tackle T.Y. McGill.
The good news is N.C. State has a bye next week. The bad news? Next up is a trip to No. 6 Florida State on Oct. 26.
|SYRACUSE 24, NC STATE 10|
Syr—Smith 1 run (Norton kick), 11:11.
NCSt—Grinnage 21 pass from Thomas (Sade kick), 1:15.
Syr—FG Norton 19, 4:13.
NCSt—FG Sade 27, 10:12.
Syr—Gulley 18 run (kick failed), 6:13.
Syr—Hunt 8 run (Norton run), 2:39.
|Time of Possession||26:39||33:21|
RUSHING—Syracuse, Smith 19-140, Gulley 9-132, Hunt 11-92,
Team 1-(minus 2). NC State, Thornton 20-60, Thomas 10-31,
Shirreffs 6-24, Underwood 2-11, Dayes 3-8, Copeland 1-6,
Leatham 3-(minus 11).
PASSING—Syracuse, Hunt 10-20-2-74, Broyld 0-1-0-0. NC State,
Thomas 17-35-1-151, Leatham 6-11-0-77, Shirreffs 1-2-0-(minus 2),
Sade 0-1-0-0, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Syracuse, Broyld 3-43, Kobena 2-12, Clark 2-5,
Estime 1-5, Smith 1-5, Wales 1-4. NC State, Underwood 6-89,
Copeland 4-45, Purvis 4-19, Ramos 3-35, Grinnage 2-30, Cherry 2-14,
Thornton 2-(minus 6), Dayes 1-0.