Syra­cuse se­niors play last col­lege game; foe is Wake For­est

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Kekis AP Sports Writer

SYRA­CUSE, N.Y. (AP) » Syra­cuse has one thing left to play for — pride.

That will have to suf­fice for 23 se­niors when Wake For­est vis­its the Car­rier Dome on Satur­day be­cause it’s their fi­nal game for the Orange. Syra­cuse has been elim­i­nated from play­ing in the post­sea­son.

“This game is def­i­nitely im­por­tant for me and the team, just off the sim­ple fact that ev­ery­body wants to end the sea­son on a high note,” se­nior de­fen­sive back Evan Foster said. “Un­for­tu­nately, we are un­able to go to a bowl game, but we can def­i­nitely still make im­prove­ments and just play hard ... go out as a win­ner. That’s very im­por­tant.”

What be­gan as a sea­son of great prom­ise — the Orange fin­ished 2018 ranked No. 15 af­ter a 10-win sea­son that in­cluded a bowl vic­tory and were ranked No. 22 in the pre­sea­son this year — im­ploded quickly. A shock­ing 43-point loss at Maryland in the sec

ond game on the sched­ule was an omi­nous sign, and it snow­balled later into a fourgame skid that kept the Orange (4-7, 1-6 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) win­less in the con­fer­ence un­til a vic­tory two weeks ago at Duke.

“You have to turn a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive,” Syra­cuse coach Dino Babers said. “There were ex­pec­ta­tions from a lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing a lot of peo­ple who were in this room (last) Sun­day for the team meet­ing. Things didn’t go our way.”

Syra­cuse is com­ing off a 56-34 loss at Louisville, which sealed the Orange’s fate. The De­mon Dea­cons (8-3, 4-3) held on to de­feat Duke 39-27 last week and are headed to the post­sea­son for the fourth straight time.

“They are a very vet­eran and very tal­ented team,” Wake For­est coach Dave Claw­son said of the Orange. “When the year started, pretty much ev­ery­body in the coun­try had them pegged as the sec­ond-best team in the ACC. They had re­ally high ex­pec­ta­tions. For in­jury rea­sons or other rea­sons, maybe things haven’t panned out the way they hoped for.”

They have for the De­mon Dea­cons, who went 6-1 at home and have reached eight wins for the first time since 2007. The vic­tory over the Blue Devils was a crown­ing achieve­ment be­cause it com­pleted a sweep of their in-state ri­vals — North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke.

“I am re­ally proud of our team for ac­com­plish­ing that. We ac­com­plished a lot of goals,” Claw­son said. “We want to ac­com­plish some (more) goals, so our work is not done.” DOU­BLE FAIL­URE Wake For­est gave up kick­off re­turns for touch­downs of 97 and 98 yards to Duke’s Da­mond Philyaw-John­son, who was un­touched on both. That al­lowed the Blue Devils to stay close in a game Wake For­est dom­i­nated sta­tis­ti­cally with over 600 yards of of­fense.

“It was em­bar­rass­ing,” Claw­son said. “That could have very eas­ily cost us the foot­ball game. I’m sure they’re (Syra­cuse) sali­vat­ing. In their spe­cial teams meet­ings they’re lick­ing their chops.”

Orange fresh­man Jawhar Jor­dan re­turned three kicks for 101 yards against Louisville with a long of 48. CHANGE COM­ING? Babers fired de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brian Ward af­ter the Orange de­fense al­lowed a school-record 496 yards rush­ing in a hum­bling 58-27 home loss to Bos­ton Col­lege in early Novem­ber. Steve Sta­nard was named the in­terim, but the de­fense was torched for 608 yards in last week’s loss to the Car­di­nals.

“It’s def­i­nitely some­thing that we need to look into ... be­cause it needs to be ad­dressed, whether we do or don’t make a change (again),” Babers said. DU­EL­ING FEET Syra­cuse has the reign­ing Lou Groza Award win­ner in place-kicker An­dre Szmyt and the De­mon Dea­cons have Nick Sciba. Szmyt hit 30 of 34 field goals last sea­son, one off the na­tional record, and is 13 of 16 this year. Sciba, a sopho­more, kicked four last week to boost his per­sonal streak to 32 straight makes, an NCAA record. Chuck Nel­son of Wash­ing­ton hit 30 in a row in 1981-82.

TI­MOTHY D. EASLEY - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Louisville line­backer Yasir Ab­dul­lah (22) at­tempts to bring down Syra­cuse run­ning back Jawhar Jor­dan (25) dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game in Louisville, Ky., Satur­day, Nov. 23, 2019.

TI­MOTHY D. EASLEY - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Louisville quar­ter­back Mi­cale Cunningham (3) runs from the at­tempted tackle of Syra­cuse line­backer Lakiem Wil­liams (46) dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game in Louisville, Ky., Satur­day, Nov. 23, 2019.

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