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PHOTO: Micah Robinson
Micah Robinson scored one of two defensive touchdowns for the Orange
Syracuse scored 30 unanswered points and defeated Wake Forest, 30-7, in its first road conference game of the season. Freshman quarterback AJ Long threw for 171 yards and rushed for a touchdown in his first career start.
Junior Devante McFarlane led the Orange's running attack as he gained a career-best 114 yards on 10 carries. Long completed his first five passes and finished the day 22-for-32 for a career-high 171 yards. Syracuse's offense was perfect in the red zone, scoring on all four possessions from inside the 20.
Defensively, Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) sacked Wake Forest (2-5, 0-3) quarterbacks three times and forced two turnovers. Both turnovers led to Orange scores. Defensive ends Robert Welsh (interception return for a touchdown) and Micah Robinson (fumble recovery return for a touchdown) gave the Orange 14 points. The Demon Deacons' 170 yards of total offense is the least Syracuse has allowed this season. Wake Forest was just 3-for-15 on third down.
The first quarter featured scoring drives by both teams. Wake Forest scored first when quarterback John Wolford hit Cam Serigne with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:20 on the clock for its only score of the game. The play capped a 13-play, 91-yard drive. Syracuse responded with a 13-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Cole Murphy's 32-yard field goal.
The Orange took the lead for good on its first drive of the second quarter. Long recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a four-yard dash to the right corner of the end zone as Syracuse took a 10-7 lead with 7:50 remaining in the half. The 15-play, 92-yard touchdown drive is Syracuse's longest by number of plays of the season. Long was 5-for-7 for 56 yards on the drive and rushed for 24 yards.
The Orange added to its lead on Wake Forest's ensuing drive as Welsh intercepted a Wolford pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Syracuse's second interception return for a touchdown this season. Murphy's extra point gave SU a 17-7 lead with 5:05 left in the half.
Syracuse had the first possession of the second half and added to its lead on a 41-yard field goal by Murphy at the 11:07 mark. A 33-yard pass from Long to Steve Ishmael highlighted the drive. Ishmael led all receivers with six catches for 72 yards. The Orange defense struck again on Wake Forest's next possession when senior Brandon Reddish caused a fumble by Demon Deacons' quarterback Tyler Cameron. Robinson picked up the ball and ran it back 51 yards for the touchdown as Syracuse took a 27-7 lead with 9:27 on the clock. It was the Orange's second fumble return for a touchdown in 2014.
An 86-yard rush by McFarlane set up a 27-yard field goal by Murphy to extend Syracuse's lead to 30-7. McFarlane's dash ties for the third-longest rush in school history. The Orange's defense held Wake Forest to four three-and-outs in its final six possessions as Syracuse snapped its four-game losing streak.