HALFTIME SCORE: Syracuse 16, Clemson 7
The place is packed. The Fans are on their feet. The band welcomes the team onto the field. That was the case and then some around noon today when Clemson made its grand introduction. However, at the start of the game, Syracuse wasn’t phased by one of college football’s best atmospheres. Quarterback Eric Dungey and the Orange marched down the field to pick up a field goal in the team’s opening drive. From that point, there were plenty of ups and downs in the fist half for both teams. Here’s a few notes from the game’s opening 30 minutes.
- On the first drive of the game, Clemson forced a three-and-out on SU’s first drive… or so we thought. The third down stop was erased because of a Tiger timeout before the play. The Orange took advantage of that stoppage by driving down the field and collecting the first points of the game. One of a number of breaks SU caught early in the game.
- Dungey wasn’t at his best through the air to start the game, but improved as the half continued. Early on, receiver Devin Butler made his presense known. Butler was open over the middle of the field on a seam route that would have resulted in a touchdown. For much of the half, Syracuse’s receivers outplayed the Clemson secondary.
- Defense. Defense. Defense. That’s the best half of D Syracuse has played in a long long time. They stood tall against the Tigers powerful offensive unit, bending but not breaking. Sure, there were some big plays, but SU stayed focused through the mistakes. They made it clear they belong on the same field as No. 3 Clemson.
- How about that touchdown drive? Syracuse responded to the missed field goal by the Tigers with a statement and a half. Taj Harris caught two passes, including the big one that pushed the Orange into the red zone. Dungey did the rest to give Syracuse the lead.
- The response was perhaps even better than the touchdown drive itself. The defense stood tall and got after Lawrence. Chris Slayton picked up his first career sack, followed by a big hit by Evan Foster that sent Lawrence to the sideline in pain before the Tigers punted on fourth down. Chase Brice replaced Lawrence at quarterback on Clemson’s next drive.
- To close the half, SU settled for another field goal. Certainly not the end of the world, but a touchdown would have really been a statement. But hey, they’ll certainly take it.
For the record: Syracuse outplayed Clemson in nearly every fashion in that half. For the second straight year, the upset alert is for real. The Orange lead by nine, but seemed to leave plenty on the table. If they can convert on more of their opportunities in the second half, a win in Death Valley is more than doable. But, don’t get ahead of yourself. There is a lot of work to be done for the Orange.