Friday the 13th Nightmare: Syracuse stuns No. 2 Clemson


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<span style=Rich Barnes / USATODAY">
Rich Barnes / USATODAY

SYRACUSE, NY – Welcome to the Friday the 13th in the dank garage they call the Carrier Dome.

Starting quarterback Kelly Bryant was knocked out late in the second quarter and Clemson’s defense was knocked out several times as Syracuse pulled off the upset, defeating the second-ranked Tigers 27-24 Friday night in the Carrier Dome.

Clemson hadn’t lost a road game in two years and 11 months - at Georgia Tech in 2014 when Deshaun Watson was also knocked out – but the Orange ended that streak with a stunning offensive effort.

Clemson falls to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the ACC. Syracuse improves to 4-3 overall. It marks the second time in two years that Clemson has lost to an unranked team after falling to Pitt last season.

The Orange took the opening kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown on the Clemson defense. The drive started with a 21-yard run by quarterback Eric Dungey and ended on a 23-yard pass from Dungey to Dontae Strickland. The drive was 10 plays and covered 72 yards and the Orange led 7-0 just over three minutes into the game. The scored marked the first time this season that the defense allowed a touchdown on the opening drive, and it was the first time Clemson trailed in a game since Auburn in week two.

Clemson answered in just three plays. A short kickoff gave the Tigers good field position at the 38, and three plays later Tavien Feaster raced 37 yards untouched into the endzone to tie the game at 7-7.

The teams traded punts before the Orange made the Clemson defense pay. Dungey hit a wide-open Ervin Phillips over the middle – the safety didn’t take the receiver after he cleared the corner – to complete a 66-yard touchdown and Syracuse led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The Tigers failed to muster any offense, and Syracuse put together another strong drive midway through the second quarter. However, an apparent touchdown pass was called back for interference, and the Orange faced third-and-forever near midfield. Strickland ran to the right on a draw play, and he fumbled as he went to the ground. Tanner Muse picked up the loose ball and raced untouched 63 yards into the end zone to tie the score at 14-14 with 8:31 to play in the half.

Syracuse added a field goal to take a 17-14 lead, and on the ensuing drive Bryant was slammed into the turf and knocked out. Bryant stayed on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field. The Clemson drive stalled and Cuse ran out the clock with the 17-14 lead.

Bryant started the game 9-for-9, but as his ankle got worse he finished 5-11 for 46 yards and a sack.

With Cooper at quarterback, the teams traded punts to start the second half. However, the Syracuse punt rolled off the side of the punter’s foot and Clemson took over at the Orange 43. Hunter Renfrow made an incredible catch to put Clemson in the red zone, but the Tigers settled for a 30-yard Alex Spence field goal and the game was tied at 17-17 with 8:27 to play in the third quarter.

It took Syracuse just four plays to go 81 yards and go back on top. Dungey escaped around the right side for a 45-yard gain, then hit Steve Ishmael on a 30-yard scoring toss over the top of the defense for a 24-17 lead with 7:12 to play in the third quarter.

Clemson didn’t take long to respond after starting at their own 35. Freshman running back Travis Etienne took a pitch to the right and scampered 52 yards down the right sideline into the end zone to tie the game at 24-24.

Clemson put together another nice drive, but Spence missed his second field goal of the night to thwart the scoring chance. Syracuse responded with a 16-play drive – aided by several Clemson penalties – and finished it with a field goal that put them ahead 27-24 with 9:41 to play.

The Tigers put together a drive that stalled just past midfield after Cooper overthrew Renfrow, and Swinney sent the punt team on the field facing a 4th-and-6 at the Cuse 41. Punter Will Spiers rolled right but instead of punting attempted a deep pass that fell incomplete, and Syracuse took over at its own 41 with 6:10 to play.

Syracuse was able to run out the clock on the win.

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