Syracuse Falls To Florida State, 38-20


Similar to last week, we can define yet another Syracuse loss by one simple sequence.

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Following a muffed punt by Florida State return man Jesus Wilson, the Orange seemed primed to cut their deficit to just 31-20, taking over possession at the Seminole 21. With freshman quarterback AJ Long having thrown a dime of a touchdown to Steve Ishmael on the previous possession, positivity was swirling amongst the SU sideline for the first time in weeks.

Instead of capitalizing, however, Long scrambled out of the pocket on first down, and, attempting to throw it away, hit Florida State’s Nick Andrews in stride at the Seminole 8, signifying yet another red zone turnover. As we all know, mistakes against championship-caliber teams will come back to haunt you, and Jameis Winston and Co. promptly responded with a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive, essentially putting the game out of reach.

While we must consider that this was Long’s first game action, and rookie mistakes are inevitable, it was the nature of the miscue that hurt the most. Week in, week out, the Orange have been hampered by seemingly unforced errors in critical situations, unable to capitalize on any break that comes their way, a key factor in today’s 38-20 loss at the hands of the undefeated Seminoles.

However, let’s stay positive, shall we? We may have just found the quarterback-receiver combination of the future!

Oct 11, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback AJ Long (4) scrambles out of the pocket against the Florida State Seminoles during the third quarter at the Carrier Dome. Florida State defeated Syracuse 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Long hit freshman Steve Ishmael for touchdowns of 22 and 35 yards in the second half, establishing the basis for what might just be an exciting tandem for years to come.

All in all, the true freshman quarterback may have secured his position as the primary starter for the rest of Terrel Hunt’s departure, exemplifying excellent poise in the pocket while firing a plethora of darts to every corner of the field, en route to an impressive stat line of 167 yards and two touchdowns on 16/27 passing (let’s just forget about the two interceptions).

Ishmael enjoyed his most successful outing of the season in the absence of both Brisly Estime and Ashton Broyld, recording 93 yards receiving, while Prince Tyson-Gulley rushed for 80 yards on 16 carries, as head coach Scott Shafer and new offensive coordinator Tim Lester attempted to establish the running attack early.

However, the injury-ravaged defense of the 2-4 Orange was simply picked apart by the reigning Heisman-winner and his fellow offensive counterparts for 29 first downs and 482 total yards. Winston took advantage of a lackadaisical pass rush and annihilated the ‘Cuse secondary, completing 30 of 36 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns, hitting future NFL star wideout Rashad Greene six times for 107 yards, and tight end Nick O’Leary eight times for 97 yards and a score. Running back Delvin Cook destroyed the Syracuse’ run defense for 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, as well.

The Orange found themselves pitted in a 10-0 hole after the Seminoles opened the contest with a rapid 8-play, 70-yard drive which concluded in a 12-yard rushing TD by Mario Pender, and turned an Austin Wilson-interception into a 12-play, 44-yard field goal march on their second possession.

Oct 11, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) drops back to pass against the Syracuse Orange during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Although the ‘Cuse responded with an impressive drive to the red zone, they were once again unable to convert a touchdown, instead settling for a 21-yarder from kicker Cole Murphy. Winston then responded by hitting Greene for 44 yards on a 2nd and 9 on the ensuing possession, setting up a 4-yard TD toss to Pender to increase the deficit to 17-3 with 10:37 remaining in the second quarter.

The Orange then failed to capitalize on a red zone opportunity once again later in the second, settling for yet another Murphy field goal after forcing a Pender fumble at the Seminole 16. Florida State then rounded out the first half scoring with a 6-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, which ended in a 21-yard TD connection from Winston to O’Leary.

The second half started out on a sour note yet again, as the Seminoles responded to a Syracuse three-and-out with a 11-play, 79-yard scoring drive, concluding with a 7-yard TD reception by Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, to take a commanding 31-6 lead.

Oct 11, 2014; Syracuse, NY, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs with the ball in front of Syracuse Orange defensive end Robert Welsh (94) during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Although a 35-yard gallop by Tyson-Gulley lead to a 22-yard score by Ishmael, the Orange were unable to capitalize on either a Florida State three-and-out, nor a muffed punt (see above), heading into the fourth quarter down 31-13, a deficit which was promptly extended to 38-13 after a 7-yard Cook touchdown run concluded the aforementioned 10-play, 92-yard drive.

Fortunately for the ‘Cuse, positivity reigned supreme for the rest of the fourth (despite Long’s interception later in the stanza), as a 35-yard connection from Long to Ishmael over the middle lessened the gap to a final margin of 38-20. AJ exemplified his magnificent talent throughout the fourth, zipping passes into tight spaces, and completing throws that Hunt would never dare to attempt. Here’s excited to witness how the true freshman fares against a much less formidable Wake Forest defense next week.