Syracuse falls short 47-21 against No. 1 Clemson after Tigers dominate fourth quarter

Syracuse falls short 47-21 against No. 1 Clemson

The Orange become only the second team this season to put up more than 20 points against Clemson, but it still wasn't enough to break the Tigers's winning streak.
Published: October 24, 2020
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper (17) throws a pass during their game at Clemson, Oct 24, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper (17) throws a pass during Syracuse's game at Clemson on Oct. 24, 2020.

Playing in front of fans for the first time this season, Syracuse traveled to Clemson Saturday to take on the No. 1 team in the country. Despite entering the game as the 44-point underdog, the Orange held their own against the undefeated Tigers for three quarters, but it wasn’t enough to snap the Tigers undefeated streak, ending the game 47-21.

Syracuse had a fighting chance in the first half, with great defensive play through two quarters. A blocked punt put the Orange in the red zone, leading to a seven yard rushing Sean Tucker touchdown. Tucker anchored the Orange offense in the first half, with 51 yards rushing, but he would be sidelined for the rest of the game due to a leg injury.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw his career’s first pick-six to Syracuse redshirt freshman defensive back Garrett Williams, giving the Orange momentum going into the second half. Syracuse flustered Lawrence and the Tigers, causing numerous three-and-outs and a couple of missed turnovers. The Orange secondary kept the Tigers receivers in check, while the defense also limited top ACC running back Travis Etienne.

With momentum carrying over, the Orange kept it going to start the second half with an 83-yard touchdown pass from Rex Culpepper to Nykeim Johnson. With Tucker sidelined, other players had to step up.

Clemson running back Travis Etienne(9) is tackled by Syracuse linebacker Geoff Cantin-Arku(31) and Syracuse defensive back Rob Hanna(19) during their game, Oct 24, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) is tackled by Syracuse linebacker Geoff Cantin-Arku (31) and Syracuse defensive back Rob Hanna (19) during Syracuse's game on Oct 24, 2020.

Syracuse’s first mistake of the game came with a minute and 45 seconds left in the third quarter, when Culpepper was strip-sacked. Clemson recovered the fumble and went on to score, widening the gap to 34-21 going into the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, the mistakes continued for the Orange. Culpepper threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, leading to two rushing touchdowns for Etienne. The Tigers ultimately put a stop to the impressive three quarters of play from the Orange.

Although head coach Dino Babers was proud of how his team played, he knew that the mistakes late in the game hurt the Orange today.

“I just think [when] you’re playing against an exceptional football team, you can’t make mistakes,” said Babers. “It’s hard to stay with a team like this. You have to play almost a perfect game.”

Syracuse is currently 1-5. The team returns home to face off against Wake Forest Saturday, Oct. 31 at noon.

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is a contributor for The NewsHouse and broadcast and digital journalism graduate student.