Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse coach Dino Babers was pleased his team’s offense had come out of its shell, but in a game that saw both teams combine for more than 1,100 yards and 85 points, it was the defense that helped seal a 52-33 win for the Orange.
Western Michigan (2-2) had rallied from a 21-0 deficit to narrow the margin to 38-33 with a little more than 10 minutes remaining and had a fourth-and-1 from its own 42. Momentum was on the Broncos’ side and the Carrier Dome knew it. But Syracuse defensive tackle Kenneth Ruff and safety Evan Foster stopped Davon Tucker about a foot short of the first down. On the subsequent drive, tight end Aaron Hackett caught his second touchdown pass of the game from Tommy DeVito and the Orange (2-2) could exhale.
“We treat fourth-down stops like a turnover,” Babers said. “That was a really big deal. I thought the one stop was unbelievable where they originally gave them the first down (on third down). For us to come back and stop them on that series was a really big part of the game.”
“We have to be able to convert a fourth-and-short,” said Western Michigan coach Tim Lester, who served as Syracuse offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2013-2015.
DeVito passed for a career-high four touchdowns and ran for one score as Syracuse broke a modest two-game losing streak.
“I’m a throw-first guy but definitely can run if I have to,” said DeVito, who broke off a career-high 60-yard run.
“I thought it was cool that he started the game and finished the game with the same number of interceptions (zero),” Babers said.
Hackett had a career day with six receptions.
“It felt good to finally get out and score my first touchdown in the Dome,” he said.
Trishton Jackson, who had six receptions for 141 yards, also had two touchdown catches for the Orange. Moe Neal led Syracuse with 123 yards rushing and two scores.
Syracuse had been held to a total of 50 points in its previous three games.
“Really proud of the offense to kind of come out of their shell and put some points on the board against any defense in college football, but I’m disappointed in the turnovers,” Babers said.
DeVito was 27 of 35 for 287 yards for Syracuse and picked up 84 yards on the ground. He completed passes to eight different receivers.
Jon Wassink was 23 of 46 for the Broncos for 356 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“We started slow which hurt us,” Wassink said. “We turned the ball over a couple times which we can’t do. We started slow and had to claw our way back. We have to be better.”
LeVante Bellamy, who was held in check in the first quarter, finished with 165 yards on just 15 carries before an injury sidelined him in the third quarter. He had touchdown runs of 47 and 43 yards. Giovanni Ricci had a season-high eight catches for 105 yards.
“Their tailback (Bellamy) is exceptional,” Babers said.
The game, marred by sloppy play, saw 19 penalties for nearly 200 yards and five turnovers, all fumbles. Western Michigan turned it over three times and the teams capitalized for touchdowns on four fumbles.
“I thought it was a game of different mood swings, different momentum swings. Felt like one minute we had control of the game and the next thing you know you’re back in a football game,” Babers said.
“Obviously, really disappointed after all the turnovers, the guys were hanging and hanging and by end of third quarter we were in the game,” Lester said. “That was the goal, stay in the game late and make a play in the last couple of drives. The offense had two or three opportunities to score to take the lead and we didn’t. That’s the most frustrating thing. We moved the ball which I was proud of.”
Syracuse wasted little time getting on the board, going 81 yards on four plays, capped by a 23-yard run up the middle by Neal. DeVito scampered 60 yards on the game’s second play to set up Neal’s run.
Syracuse led 24-13 at the half. The third quarter featured four consecutive touchdown drives of less than two minutes each.
The Broncos host in-state rival Central Michigan Saturday.
(At) Miami 17, Central Michigan 12: Jarren Williams passed for 250 yards and a touchdown, DeeJay Dallas ran for another score and Brevin Jordan caught three passes for 70 yards for the Hurricanes (2-2), who went 85 yards relatively easily for a touchdown on their first drive and then managed a total of only 117 yards and seven points on their next nine possessions. K.J. Osborn had a touchdown catch in the third quarter for Miami.
Ryan Tice kicked a career-long 55-yard field goal for Central Michigan (2-2), in former Florida coach Jim McElwain’s return to the Sunshine State. His team was a 30-point underdog, and got within five on quarterback David Moore’s 1-yard rush with 3:21 left.
The Chippewas elected to kick the ball deep after that score and wound up getting the ball back — but on their own 5 with only 39 seconds left after a 59-yard punt by Louis Hedley. Al Blades Jr. sealed the win for Miami by intercepting a pass from Moore with 6 seconds left.
Moore finished 23 of 50 for 217 yards. Williams completed 17 of 24 passes for Miami.
It was a day filled with Miami mistakes, including allowing four sacks, committing 13 penalties, allowing a safety, dropping an interception and getting a punt blocked. And the mistakes kept piling up on Central Michigan’s touchdown drive – getting flagged for holding on what would have been a fourth-down stop near the goal line, then committing a personal foul, pass interference and offsides infractions before Moore finally got into the end zone.
The Hurricanes also managed only 51 rushing yards on 34 carries, yet still managed to extend their August-September home winning streak to 19 games.
(At) Eastern Michigan 34, Central Connecticut 29: Mathew Sexton blocked a punt and returned it 30 yards to score the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left.
Mike Glass III passed for 279 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles (3-1). A lightning strike in the area delayed the game for 47 minutes after Glass threw his fourth TD pass to make it 28-15 early in the fourth quarter.
When play resumed, the Blue Devils (3-1) drove 75 yards to cut the deficit to six on Keonte Lucas’ 1-yard run. Central Connecticut then took a 29-28 lead with 2:05 to go on Aaron Winchester’s 68-yard TD pass to Tyshaun James.
The Blue Devils retook possession when Tre Jones intercepted Glass’ pass with 1:23 left, but the Eastern Michigan defense forced a three-and-out to set up Sexton’s big play.
Winchester threw for 231 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Devils.
(At) Grand Valley State 27, Northwood 3: Daevon Anderson caught four passes for 121 yards, including two for touchdowns to lead the Lakers (3-0) to victory in their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener. Parker Blust had a 47-yard field goal for Northwood (0-3).
Davenport 21, (at) Northern Michigan 7: Michael Catching had scoring runs of 3 and 53 yards to lead Davenport (2-0, 1-0). Tyshon King scored on a 1-yard run for Northern (1-2, 0-1).
(At) Saginaw Valley State 23, Michigan Tech 7: Nate McCrary rushed for 131 yards, including a TD, and Connor Luksic had field goals from 47, 43 and 26 yards for the undefeated Cardinals (3-0). Michigan Tech (2-1) struck first on a 52-yard TD pass from Will Ark to Jacob Wenzlick with 12:37 left in first quarter.
Wayne State 33, (at) Quincy 7: James Hill rushed 164 yards on 26 carries, including a 2-yard TD run, to help lift the Warriors (1-2) to their first win. Quarterback Dakota Kupp was 12-of-19 for 210 yards, connecting with Steven Glenn for a 12-yard scoring play. Kupp also ran in for a score. Jalen Griffin had a rushing TD for Quincy (2-1).
Ferris State 28, (at) Ashland 13: Jayru Campbell ran for two touchdowns, passed for a third, and Marvin Campbell rushed for a score for Ferris State (3-0, 1-0). Jayru Campbell finished with 16-of-29 passes completed for 246 yards. Ashland is 1-2, 0-1.
Lakeland 28, (at) Kalamazoo 7: Charl'Tez Nunnery had TD runs of 3, 2 and 3 yards to lead Lakeland (1-1). Bubba Wilson scored on a 15-yard pass from Cam Crothers for Kalamazoo (1-2).
(At) Alma 51, Rockford 16: Ryan Stevens was 7-of-8 for 141 yards, throwing for two TDs and running in for two more as Alma (1-1) generated 410 yards in total offense. LaVar Johnson Jr. had two TDs for Rockford (1-1).
(At) Albion 56, Eureka 41: Kyle Thomas threw for 313 yards and five scores and ran in for three more while racking up 144 yards for Albion (3-0) in a game featuring 1,062 yards in combined offense. Drew Barth passed for 410 yards and four TDs for Eureka (2-1).
(At) Hope 34, Aurora 32: Hope took a 20-0 halftime lead, then held on. Aurora closed to 27-25 midway through the fourth quarter but Mason Opple (12-for-20, 203 yards, three TDs) threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Connor Mellon with 1:10 to play to assure the victory. Christian Bos caught eight passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns for Hope. Both teams are 2-1.
(At) Olivet 21, Benedictine (Ill.) 6: Noah McMinn scored on runs of 6 and 4 yards as Olivet (3-0) remains unbeaten. Tyler Jarnagin found Kiandre Morris on a 9-yard TD strike for Benedictine (1-2).
(At) Adrian 32, Wisconsin-Lutheran 29, 2OT: Cooper West connected on a 26-yard field in double-overtime to pull out the victory for Adrian (1-2), which led 26-10 going into the final quarter. Adrian's Colton Randle had a 75-yard TD run and Jerome Neal scored from 13 and 2 yards. Alan Jackson's 2-yard run for tied it 29-all with 1:39 left in regulation for Wisconsin-Lutheran (0-3) but the PAT kick failed.
Concordia Chicago 23, (at) Finlandia 12: Finlandia was held to 7 yards rushing and 154 yards total offense.