For the first time in the 2022 season, the Syracuse Orange played under the Dome’s “Friday Night Lights” as they hosted the Virginia Cavaliers for the second game of a four-game homestand. From the first quarter, this was a game you knew you would remember, for all the wrong reasons. Luckily for the Orange, they were able to hold on and defeat the Cavaliers in a 22-20 final.
After a 57-yard return from Trebor Pena early in the game, the Orange took over at Virginia’s 41-yard line. First drive of the game, the Orange started with 10 with only Tucker in the backfield, hit Orange Gadsden in the middle twice to get into the red zone and eventually scored on a 17-yard run from Shrader out of a cover game, opening the scoring and allowing Andre Szmyt to open his account for the day giving the Orange a 7-0 lead.
The first defensive drive saw Anwar Sparrow get the nod for Derek McDonald who is out with an unknown injury. The drive looked like a standard Syracuse opening drive, not giving up too much, but Tony White felt the offense. The Cavaliers eventually missed a field goal attempt from 51 yards to give the ball back to the Orange on their own 33-yard line. Unfortunately, Sean Tucker coughed the ball up, giving Virginia’s offense another chance at roughly the same spot they returned it. Marlowe Wax, contained Armstrong on a broken passing game and held them to a three-out, setting up a 48-yard attempt, which Brendan Farrell also sent on the right.
Trebor Pena made a deceptive hold down the middle to start the second drive, which was kept alive by Gadsden hitting a big snag on a post road for a big chunk down the middle of the split. Practice stalled in the red zone, but Szmyt did his due diligence and hit home his fifth of the season to make it 10-0. The Orange came back on offense after a fumble from Armstrong trying to throw a QB sweep that Garrett Williams grabbed mid-air. Syracuse’s offense stalled and Szmyt hit his second of the game to make it 13-0 Orange early in the second quarter.
The Orange proceeded to force a three and out, but Garrett Shrader quickly threw his first pick of the year to Jonas Sanker. The defense held again though, as Garrett Williams made a great play to break up a pass from Armstrong to Keytaon Thompson on fourth down to give the ball back to the Orange at the Syracuse 25-yard line.
After a notable only drive for another injury scare from Tucker, Max Von Marburg crosses his first 40-yard punt to Virginia’s 25-yard line. After two abandonments by Virginia receivers on catch balls, Wax and Caleb Okechukwu fired Armstrong.
Gadsden, Pena and Tucker all participated in the ensuing possession passing game action, but a series of missteps led to Szmyt hitting his third of the game to make it 16-0 on the final possession. orange from the first half. A completed penalty to the last UVA player sent him to the locker room with that score.
Unfortunately for Syracuse, the first practice of the second half included Justin Barron being ejected for targeting and Terry Lockett suffering what appeared to be a knee injury. Keytaon Thompson capped off the practice with a yard run, putting Virginia on the board, 16-7 after Will Bettridge’s extra point.
Virginia capitalized on a fumble kick return from Pena, forced by Johnathan Horton, taking over in the red zone and scoring on a rush to Perris Jones. The extra point was blocked by Jatius Geer, leaving it at 16-13 midway through the third quarter. A three-and-out for Syracuse followed by a forced three-and-out allowed the Orange to take over on their own 20-yard line. A few big plays and targeting from Nick Jackson on Shrader put the Orange in a decent position on the pitch, but the attack couldn’t get out of it and settled for another field goal by Andre Szmyt, his fourth of the day to bring the score to 19. -13.
A fumble from Courtney Jackson gave Virginia’s offense another blow, which Armstrong quickly sent straight back to Garrett Williams who pointed a long heave, starting the Orange at the 20-yard line. In what was a repeated issue on the night, the penalties killed any drive the player had. Virginia took the floor the next practice, Jones getting six carries en route to a Lavel Davis reception that put the Cavaliers up for the first time in the baseball game, 20-19.
In the last training Orange entered the red zone, a poor decision to keep the ball from Garrett Shrader led to Andre Szmyt’s fifth goal of the evening, giving Orange a 22-20 lead and giving Virginia 1:14 clock. work with.
Shrader finished the day 22 of 33 for 277 yards and a rushing touchdown, getting the better of the game against Brennan Armstrong that day. Gadsden led all receivers with 7 for 113 yards and without throwing the rush game, Sean Tucker could only run for 21 for 62 yards rushing, just 2.9 yards per carry.
Mikel Jones led the Orange with 8 tackles on the day, Caleb Okechukwu added 3 tackles and two sacks and Duce Chestnut had five for the Orange. Garret Williams’ fumble recovery and interception added to the tally.
Penalties have done neither team a favor, with Syracuse amassing 11 for 86 yards and Virginia 10 for 85. Syracuse’s return to week one form in this department is disappointing. Some were unavoidable, but others are hugely disappointing, including Barron’s targeting and Clark’s early game unsportsmanlike. Add that to the pile of things that need to be cleaned up before Wagner.
Ultimately with Wagner coming next week followed by the week off this team has a lot of work to do and needs to use that time wisely but a win is still a win and the team is 4 -0 on the year, 2-0 in the ACC.