Syracuse football falls short to Wake Forest in OT thriller

SU loses to Wake Forest in overtime

The Orange fall short in the game's final play for the second straight game.
Published: October 10, 2021
Football Game Syracuse University vs Wake Forest, October 9, 2021. Sean Tucker scoring a touchdown.
Sean Tucker goes in for a touchdown during an NCAA football game against Wake Forest at the Carrier Dome Saturday, October 9, 2021.

The Syracuse football team fell to 3-3 (0-2 ACC) after an overtime loss to Wake Forest in the Carrier Dome. This is the second straight walk-off loss the Orange have suffered after losing to Florida State on a field goal in the final play of regulation last week.

Win or lose, this was Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader’s breakout game for the Orange. Shrader became just the third quarterback in Syracuse football history with back-to-back games of 100 rushing yards, eclipsing that mark before the end of the first half. Shrader finished the afternoon with 178 yards on the ground and 160 yards passing, both serving as season highs for the Mississippi State transfer. Even on his career day, Shrader took responsibility for the loss, deferring credit to Syracuse Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.

“I think Coach Gilbert called a great game,” said Shrader. “All those plays he called allowed us to have those opportunities. When things weren’t going so well, I take responsibility. I wasn’t operating how I should have. There’s opportunities out there, and there’s tons of points and yards we left on the board today.”

It was evident just how badly Shrader wanted to upset Wake Forest. With just over 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Syracuse picked up 10 yards off a Cooper Lutz run to turn third-and-12 into fourth-and-2 and the Wake Forest 27-yard-line. As Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers sent the field goal unit out on the field, Shrader emphatically waved the substitutes off the field. Kicker Andre Szmyt would go on to miss the 45-yard attempt.

“I wanted to go for it pretty bad, but I think at the end of the day that’s a pretty good call,” said Shrader. “With our field goal kicker and our defense, I think that was the right call to make. But it didn’t happen. Live and learn, and go from there.”

Football Game Syracuse University vs Wake Forest, October 9, 2021. Garrett Shrader scoring a touchdown.
Garrett Shrader (16) holds onto the ball tightly over the goal line to score a touchdown for the Orange.

Shrader eventually had his moment, leading an 11-play, 94-yard drive with 2:21 left to play in regulation. Shrader brought the Orange within a point with a 21-yard completion to Sean Tucker. Again, Shrader and the offense demanded to play for the win, originally lining up for a two-point conversion. However, a delay of game penalty would push them back 5 yards, eventually bringing out the extra-point unit. Instead of having the chance to take the lead with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, Syracuse tied the game up with a completed extra point attempt to send it to overtime.

However, the story of this game for Syracuse came on the defensive side of the ball. The 40 points scored by Wake Forest was the highest point total allowed by Syracuse this year. It felt as though the Orange defense reverted to a bend-don’t-break style of defense at points, especially in the passing game.

“I think it just comes down to plays,” said Babers. “I really do. If we’re in man-to-man coverage, and you’ve got a receiver that can win, you’re going to have some opportunities.”

When Wake Forest’s receivers won, they hit the lottery. Wide receivers Jaquarii Roberson and A.T. Perry were able to find separation when it mattered most. Roberson finished the game with 9 catches for 135 yards, while Perry caught 3 passes for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner.

With their hopes for a shot at a bowl game hanging in the balance, Syracuse will host the Clemson Tigers at 7 p.m. on Friday.