The Syracuse University football program began its 2011 campaign in exciting fashion Thursday night with a 36-39 come-from-behind victory against visiting Wake Forest in a non-conference game at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (1-0) trailed 29-14 with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, but managed to score two touchdowns — a four-yard reception by senior fullback Adam Harris, while the second came on a 53-yard rush by senior running back Antwon Bailey — to tie the game, 29-29, with 7:07 to go.
The game went into overtime where SU, which had possession first, used a four-yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Ryan Nassib to senior wide receiver Van Chew and a Ross Krautman extra point to take a 36-29 lead. From there, the Orange defense held tough and didn’t allow the Demon Deacons to score on their only possession of OT.
That’s the basic story of what happened in SU’s first victory of the season. But, here’s a few facts, tidbits and opinions that you might not read elsewhere:
- Wake Forest starting quarterback Tanner Price, who had 289 passing yards on 18-of-31 and three TDs before leaving the game with a knee injury, was the game’s MVP. (Quick note: Backup quarterback junior Ted Stachitas was 6-of-10 for just 37 yards with an interception and two sacks during his three possession under center.)
- The game’s second-best player was Wake Forest's senior wide receiver Chris Givens, who finished with seven catches, 178 yards and two TDs, but was nowhere to be found during the Demon Deacons final possessions of the fourth quarter or OT.
- Nassib's first-half stats (7-for-13, 40 yards, a TD and sack) were terrible, but, his second half stats (13-for-15, 138 yards, two TDs and zero sacks) were pretty stellar.
- SU punter Shane Raupers was the Orange’s MVP during the first half. Raupers punted six times with a 46.7-yard average, 51 was the longest, and helped setup SU’s first TD by pinning Wake Forest inside its own two-yard line.
- After SU’s Bailey reached the end zone on the would-be, game-tying TD, I thought to myself: “There’s no way that Delone Carter outruns the defensive line, linebackers and secondary on the play.” No. 29 is a speed back with a lot of play-making ability.
- Before the first half, I thought out loud to my nearest media mates: “Well, we’re either going to have something really bad to write about; or something really good to write about.” The latter happened.
- I was surprised at how easily Wake Forest moved the ball through the air. Givens had a career night and it could have been better if he had not tripped over himself on the 37-yard, first-quarter reception that, if he stayed on his feet, would have been an easy TD and a 10-0 Wake Forest lead.
- The dramatic, fourth-quarter comeback was a lot of fun to watch, but it shouldn’t sweep all the bad football that SU played Thursday under the rug. The Orange have a lot, and I mean A LOT, of work to do. Especially, on the defensive side of the ball. Free safety Phillip Thomas was out of position on multiple plays, while the rest of the SU defensive backs had trouble defending simple 15-yard slants or curls.