SU Football: Syracuse vs. Wake Forest

Second half surge by Wake Forest topples Syracuse; bowl game seems unlikely for Orange

Syracuse needs to win both remaining games to finish .500

The Syracuse Orange lost to the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest 64-43 in a football game Saturday, despite having a final score you’d expect from a basketball contest.

Ultimately, it was a tale of two halves. The Orange closed out the first half on a 24-3 run, and held a 38-24 lead after two quarters. In the second half, two completely different teams came out to play. Wake Forest won the second half by a score of 40-5, and the Syracuse defense was demolished by the Deacon offensive unit.

Photo: Austin Henry Wallace

Mahoney’s Impact

Eric Dungey was suited up to begin the game, but he would not see the field in this one. Dungey injured his ankle in last week’s matchup against Florida State, and Coach Dino Babers felt he was not comfortable starting Dungey with the injury.

“That’s somebody’s son,” Babers said. “We want to make sure that he can defend himself, and we just didn’t feel like he was able to totally defend himself.”

“I found that I was playing 14 minutes before kickoff,” Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney said.

Mahoney got the start and performed well in the first half. The senior was very efficient through the air, and finished the half with an impressive 297 passing yards and three touchdowns.

However, his effectiveness faltered in the second half, as did the Syracuse squad as a whole, and Mahoney threw for under 100 yards with no touchdowns. The poise Mahoney had in the pocket through the first 30 minutes had seemed to fade, and the quarterback threw two interceptions late in the game, erasing any hope for a comeback.

The Big Bad Wolford

Unlike Mahoney, Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford ran and passed all over the Orange defense. The senior went 13 for 20 in the first half for 207 yards and a touchdown, and added 45 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The second half saw the same. Wolford torched the defense through the air for three touchdowns, all to tight end Cam Serigne (seven catches, 119 yards). Wolford also utilized receivers Tabari Hines and Scotty Washington, who both finished with over 100 yards as well.

Wolford's highlight play of the game came on fourth down, when he weaved in and out of the defense that resulted in a swift 29-yard touchdown run. He finished with 139 yards on the ground.

“That quarterback is a shifty guy,” Babers said. “He knows all the tricks. I just thought the game he played was – wow.”

Babers added that he didn’t think he saw a quarterback perform like that since last year’s contest against Louisville and eventual Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.

Murphy’s Law

One week after missing a field goal that would’ve forced overtime against Florida State, Syracuse kicker Cole Murphy continued to struggle.

The first scoring attempt was a 45-yard field goal try for the junior, and he missed right. He finished two-for-four against Wake Forest.

The silver lining in the loss can be found in the record book. Murphy’s first conversion of the game – a 30-yarder – tied him with John Biskup for the most career field goals in an Orange uniform with 57 makes.

He drilled another one from 43 yards out in the third quarter to set a new mark, and at that point gave the Orange a 41-27 lead.

What’s Next?

Syracuse travels to Louisville next week to take on the 6-4 Cardinals. The Orange need to win both remaining games this season to earn bowl eligibility. They have not played in a bowl game since 2013.

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