What’s more impressive: four offensive touchdowns or five defensive turnovers? Either way, Syracuse's dominance over Georgia Tech on Saturday was something no one saw coming.
Syracuse’s offense had one touchdown in their first two games of the season. Today against Georgia Tech, Tommy DeVito had two touchdown passes, freshman running back Sean Tucker had two rushing touchdowns, and the Orange held on for their first win of the season to beat Georgia Tech 37-20. Their defense turned in their stingiest performance yet, taking the ball away five different times and pocketing a pick six.
After running 69 times for an average of 1.7-yards per carry through Weeks 1 and 2, the Syracuse ground attack woke up angry on Saturday. Leading the onslaught was a young man no one had on their depth chart heading into the season, RB Sean Tucker. Tucker lead all Orange rushers with 112-yards on 24 carries and ran in for his first two career touchdowns.
Tucker initially appeared to be down on his first scoring sprint, but was able to keep his feet after landing on a Georgia Tech defender. Once he had his footing, there was no one to stop Tucker from completing the 38-yard touchdown. The Orange got the ball right back two plays later as Josh Black was there to collect an errant pass by Yellow Jacket QB Jeff Sims at Georgia Tech’s 31-yard-line. The ball was forced straight up into the air thanks to pressure applied by fellow DE Kingley Jonathan. The offense was unable to move it any further, though, settling for an Andre Szmyt 37-yard field goal to go up 10-0.
Despite moving the ball with some success on their next drive, Georgia Tech coughed the ball up for a second time deep in Orange territory. Sims again was under immense pressure when a Mikel Jones hit popped the ball up in the air and into the hands of CB Trill Williams. Williams had green grass in front of him and returned the pick 47-yards to the SU 16-yard-line.
More Orange success on the ground led to another Sean Tucker rushing touchdown, this time from four-yards out.
The Yellow Jackets weren’t going to be held scoreless, however. The talented tandem of Tech running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and Jamious Griffin pounded the ball down field to put QB Jeff Sims in position for a 27-yard TD pass. His scoring toss was hauled in by freshman back Gibbs.
Georgia Tech’s passing score was answered by Tommy DeVito’s first touchdown pass of 2020. He connected long-distance with favorite target Taj Harris from 46-yards out to make it 23-6 Syracuse. DeVito finished his bounce-back performance 13-24 for 194-yards and two touchdown passes. Perhaps the most exciting stat for Orange fans was his one and only sack.
Back-and-forth we went in the first half; Georgia Tech responded with seven-play, 75-yard drive touchdown drive with 5:10 left in the second quarter. Strong runs by Yellow Jacket backs were the catalyst once more, but it was QB Jeff Sims capping it off with a one-yard plunge to draw Tech within 10.
Both teams ran like crazy in the first two quarters. Georgia Tech runners found room for 178-yards and Orange rushers racked up 128- yards on the ground.
The Syracuse defense, which has been the strength of the team through the first two games, stepped up their pass defense against Georgia Tech. Tony White’s squad forced four interceptions of Georgia Tech freshman Jeff Sims. This dominance comes at somewhat of a surprise considering the leader of this ‘Cuse defense, Andre Cisco, was held out of Saturday’s game after colliding with a teammate during pregame warm-ups. His replacement, freshman DB Rob Hanna, filled in nicely. Hanna collected Syracuse’s third interception, the most they’ve recorded in a game this season.
While few Yellow Jacket passes were finding their targets, one Sims sling was able to catch Orange defenders off-guard late in the third quarter. The freshman saw an opportunity and struck deep on a 40-yard pass to WR Ahmarean Brown. One-play later, sophomore runner Jamious Griffin found pay dirt from the three-yard-line. Georgia Tech was within three, 23-20.
Everything was coming up Georgia Tech in the second half, until Tommy DeVito responded with his second bomb of the game. On the other end to detonate the 43-yard score was WR Nykiem Johnson. Just like that, Syracuse was back up 10 and the QB controversy was over.
The only touchdown scored in the fourth quarter was on one of the most exciting plays a fan could ever hope to see. Sims was picked off for a fourth time by Ja’Had Carter who returned it for the first 23-yards before lateraling it to Trill Williams. Williams took it the remaining 43-yards for a touchdown.
The thrilling exchange gave Syracuse a 37-20 lead, one they would hold for the remainder of the game. Syracuse improves to 1-2 and 1-0 at home.