Syracuse stuns Clemson, damages title repeat plan

No. 2 Clemson suffered its first loss of the season on Friday night at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., a 27-24 upset by Syracuse. With the loss, the Tigers drop to 6-1 (4-1 ACC), while the Orange improve to 4-3 (2-1 ACC).

Syracuse scored on the first drive of the game, going 72 yards in 10 plays and 3:16, capped off by a 23-yard pass from Eric Dungey to Dontae Strickland. The Tigers answered immediately, as Tavien Feaster scored his fourth touchdown of the season on a 37-yard run to end a 62-yard, three-play drive that lasted 1:07. The Orange regained the lead with 5:13 left in the first quarter on another long reception, this time to Ervin Phillips for 66 yards.

The Clemson defense tied the game at 14-14 with 8:31 remaining in the first half, when Tanner Muse recovered a fumble forced by Isaiah Simmons, and ran it 63 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Syracuse’s Cole Murphy kicked a 21-yard field goal with 3:49 left in the second quarter, giving the Orange a 17-14 lead, which they took into halftime.

The Tigers started the second half with the ball, and with Zerrick Cooper under center. Neither team scored on its first offensive possession, but Clemson was able to knot the score at 17-17 with 8:27 to go in the third on a 30-yard field goal by Alex Spence. With 7:12 left in the quarter, Dungey connected with Steve Ishmael for a 30-yard touchdown pass which put the Orange back up by seven. Less than a minute later, Travis Etienne rushed for a 52-yard touchdown to tie the game for the fourth time of the evening.

Another field goal by Murphy, this one from 30 yards, gave Syracuse a 27-24 lead at 9:41 in the fourth quarter, concluding a 16-play, 68-yard drive that took 6:04 off the clock. The Tigers were unsuccessful on a fake-punt attempt on their next possession, giving the ball back to the Orange with 6:10 to play. Syracuse picked up three first downs on their final offensive possession to run out the clock and remove Clemson from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Etienne (5 carries, 68 yards, 1 touchdown) and Feaster (7 carries, 57 yards, 1 touchdown) led the Tiger backfield, while Deon Cain had seven catches for 55 yards and Hunter Renfrow added five catches for 64 yards for the offense. Kelly Bryant was 12-for-17 for 116 yards and Cooper was 10-for-14 with 88 yards passing. On the defensive side of the ball, Kendall Joseph (12) and Dorian O’Daniel (10) were Clemson’s two top tacklers, while Clelin Ferrell finished the game with an impressive 5.5 tackles for loss for 25 yards, including 3.5 sacks for 18 yards.

With a bye next weekend, the Tigers now have 15 days off before they return to action on Saturday, Oct. 28 to host Georgia Tech.

– Photo courtesy of CU Athletics

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