Syracuse loses another nail-biter, 17-14 to Clemson

Syracuse falls to 0-3 in conference play after loss to Clemson

Andre Szmyt’s game-tying field goal falls short of the uprights with less than a minute to play.
Published: October 16, 2021
Syracuse vs. Clemson on Oct. 15, 2021, in the Dome.
Syracuse's Damien Alford (82) goes up to catch a pass that was eventually broken up by Clemson's Nate Wiggins Friday at the Dome.

The Orange were driving.

From their own 7-yard line, down 17-14 with 4:40 left in the game, redshirt sophomore quarterback Garrett Shrader and freshman running back Sean Tucker converted multiple clutch first downs to drive the Orange offense down to Clemson’s 30-yard line.

But the Tigers didn’t let Syracuse go any further. And with 38 seconds left, SU head coach Dino Babers trotted out Andre Szmyt to knock home a 48-yard attempt to tie the score 17-17.

Szmyt’s last-chance effort fell short.

Syracuse vs. Clemson on Oct. 15, 2021, in the Dome.
Clemson's Justin Mascoll hits Syracuse's Garrett Shrader (16) as he tries to throw a pass.

“I felt like we had momentum based on what was going on,” Babers said. “If I knew what the outcome was I might’ve done something else.”

The outcome, a three point loss to Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers, is the third straight game SU has lost by three points to a conference opponent. Their last win, which ended in a made-kick from Szmyt, was decided by three points as well.

“We’re right there,” Shrader said. “Three games, three points. Every single time. We’re one play away, that’s it.”

Momentum shifted late in the first half when Clemson, who was held to just 314 total yards, successfully completed a fake punt from the Orange 41-yard line with 1:14 to play.

Clemson punter Will Spiers caught the shotgun snap and flung a 17-yard completion down the right sideline to Davis Allen. Babers said he had an idea the Tigers were going to run a fake and kept his regular defense on the field because of it.

Syracuse vs. Clemson on Oct. 15, 2021, in the Dome.
Syracuse's Adrian Cole (10) and Clemson's Justyn Ross fall to the ground after a pass fell incomplete.

“Our punt returner went out, but the rest of our defense was out there,” Babers said. “If our defense couldn’t stop it, our punt return team sure in the heck wouldn’t have stopped it.”

Later in the drive, Kobe Pace plowed in a touchdown from 2-yards out which put the Tigers ahead 14-7. It ended the second quarter where Clemson jumped ahead on a pitch-and-catch from DJ Uiagalelei to Joseph Ngata. Then SU evened the scoreboard on a QB keeper from Shrader followed, by a 39-yard rush from Tucker.

Shrader, who finished with 191-yards on 17 of 37 passing attempts, hit Trebor Pena streaking down the middle of the field for a 62-yard touchdown to pull the Orange within three midway through the fourth quarter.

But even behind 183 all-purpose-yards from Tucker – 163 rushing and 20 receiving – the Orange fell 3-4 on the season and 0-3 in the ACC play. They’ll play the Virginia Tech Hokies on the road next Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

“Offensively, we were very sloppy,” Shrader said. “You look up in the fourth quarter and we’ve got a chance to go down and win it. That’s the silver lining, but there are no moral victories. We gotta get better, period.”