Syracuse football crushes Wagner, improving to 5-0 for the first time in 35 years

SU football crushes Wagner, improves to 5-0

Orange RB Sean Tucker moves to seventh in program's all-time rushing yards.
Published: October 2, 2022 | Updated: October 3rd, 2022 at 9:51 pm
Sean Tucker (34) celebrates a touchdown during a match against Wagner university at the JMA Wireless Dome on October 1, 2022.
Syracuse RB Sean Tucker (34) celebrates a touchdown Saturday against Wagner at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse football shut out Wagner 59-0 in its homecoming game. This marks the first time Syracuse has won five consecutive games since 1987.

Orange running back Sean Tucker was electric with 232 rushing yards, moving to seventh (2,668) in program’s all-time rushing yards. Also, Tucker put on his best performance since 2021 when Syracuse faced Boston College and he earned 207 rushing yards.

“It [the record] represents the hard work that I put in through the off-season and during the season,” Tucker said.

Tucker scored three rushing touchdowns including a 60 yard run in the first quarter.

Both Tucker and starting quarterback Garrett Shrader continued to play going into the third quarter with Syracuse up 49-0.

“Not going to lie, we were trying to go for some records,” Shrader said. “We weren’t able to get that though.”

Within two minutes into the second half, Tucker was hit hard, leaving him laying on the field with head coach Dino Babers and Syracuse’s medical staff coming to his side. Both Syracuse and Wagner players huddled around, kneeling until Tucker got to his feet and walked into a pop-up medical tent on the Orange’s sideline. Tucker didn’t return to the game.

“Just got a little banged up, but I’m all good,” Tucker said.

This matchup brought a lot of firsts for the Syracuse squad. Orange wide receiver Umari Hutcher scored his first touchdown of the season with a 16-yard pass in the second quarter. Defensive back Duce Chestnut picked up his first career touchdown and first interception of the season with a pick-6 pass from Wagner quarterback Ryan Kraft just under seven minutes in the first half.

“I just had a great disguise,” Chestnut said. “Just reading the quarterback’s eyes and reading the route of the receiver and it was just an easy pick-6.”

Shrader’s throws were on point throughout his time in the game allowing for no Syracuse punts. He went 17-17 in passes, which is a Syracuse record for completion percentage in at least 10 attempts. He also recorded a total of 238 passing yards and ran into the end zone twice for touchdowns.

Syracuse wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II ran for 32 yards in the second quarter and Tucker followed with a 21 yard run. A holding penalty set Syracuse back to first and 20, but then Tucker ran for a 10 yard gain and wide receiver Devaughn Cooper scored a 22 yard touchdown. This drive took just about 90 seconds.

Syracuse placekicker Andre Szmyt, ACC special teams player of the week, successfully kicked the extra point, one of five in the game. He also kicked the lone field goal of the game for 20 yards in the fourth quarter.

Imari Hatcher (17) receives a pass during a match against Wagner university at the JMA Wireless Dome on October 1, 2022.
Syracuse's Imari Hatcher (17) receives a pass.

Up 49-0 in the half, both Syracuse’s and Wagner’s head coaches decided to shorten the third and fourth quarters to 10 minutes. Per the NCAA, “Any time during the game, the playing time of any remaining period or periods and the intermission between halves may be shortened by mutual agreement of the opposing head coaches and the referee.”

Babers didn’t disclose who approached whom with this decision, but he said he understood how it feels to be on the other side of this game.

“There was no need for me to play an extra 10 minutes and risk more injuries,” Babers said.

For the second game in a row, Syracuse had a player charged with a targeting penalty, resulting in ejection. Defensive back Rob Hanna left the game in the third quarter after targeting Wagner’s wide receiver Jordan Murrell.

Babers said he doesn’t necessarily agree with the call, but respects prioritizing the safety of the game.

“When I saw the replay, the crown of his [Hanna’s] helmet was down,” Babers said. “But, I really thought the other guy [Murrell] kind of got the best of our guy.”

Babers plans to petition the targeting penalty, but if it’s denied then Hanna will have to sit out the first half of the upcoming NC State game.

Juwaun Price (28) avoids a Wagner defender during a match against Wagner university at the JMA Wireless Dome on October 1, 2022.
Syracuse RB Juwaun Price (28) avoids a Wagner defender.

Except for the targeting penalty, Syracuse’s defense was stellar. Defensive lineman Steve Linton sacked Kraft on two occasions for a total loss of 25 yards. 

Orange defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu sacked Kraft in the first quarter and in the next play he made a clutch tackle, taking down Wagner running back Rickey Spruill for just a 1-yard gain. After a false start for Wagner, making them third and 18, Okechukwu pressured Kraft, forcing him to throw the ball out of bounds. With it being fourth down, Wagner opted to punt.

Wagner’s offense had trouble making it down the field with just four first downs and 50 yards total in the game. Kraft had just 19 passing yards and 14 rushing yards in the entirety of the game.

The undefeated season volted the Orange’s ranking to No. 22, which is the first time Syracuse has been in the AP Top 25 since 2019.

Syracuse has a bye this upcoming week and then will host the No. 14 ranked NC State on Oct. 15 at 3:30 p.m.