Syracuse football ends the misery vs. Louisville behind a resurgent quarterback, dominant defense

Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse lost a couple of games against Louisville on Saturday night.

Starting quarterback Garrett Shrader dropped his helmet twice, forcing backup Carlos Del Rio-Wilson into two thirds. The offense lost 107 yards on 18 penalties, several of which were false starts.

SU also missed three players with injuries in the first half — linebacker Chris Elmore, linebacker Stephen Thompson and running back Sean Tucker, who was the only player to return in the second half.

The one thing Syracuse didn’t lose was by far the most important: an early lead that expanded to a huge advantage following a resurgence of the quarterback and passing game. It was never threatened due to a dominant defensive performance.

All told, it ended three years of misery for the Louisville Cardinals, who were used to beating the Orange.

This time, it went in the other direction. Syracuse beat Louisville 31-7 to open the season at the JMA Wireless Dome in front of 37,110 fans. It was the Orange’s first win over the Cardinals since 2018, and the last time the two programs met in Empire State.

The pivotal play of Syracuse’s defense allowed leeway for some offensive turnovers and mishaps throughout the game. A goal-line brace in the first half prevented Louisville from narrowing the game to a field goal, and three turnovers in the second half sealed the game for the Orange.

That’s the lowest score the Oranges (1-0, 1-0 ACC) have scored against the Cardinals (0-1, 0-1) since the 1992 season. The Orange held Louisville’s total to 282 yards.

Malik Cunningham, one of the top-rated ACC quarterbacks heading into the season, was held for 152 yards on 16 completions while only 34 yards on his feet. The Cardinals’ only touchdown came when transfer running back Tiyon Evans got away with 36 yards with 1:10 left in the first quarter.

On the other hand, Schrader played a dynamic game despite his early helmet issues.

SU’s starting QB went 14-of-17 for 158 yards and first-half touchdowns. He added another 59 yards with his feet, including a 24-yard conversion on the third hit that led to Tucker’s second touchdown.

Shredder continued to play in the second half, easing pressure on the injured Tucker and finishing with 332 yards and two touchdowns.

Whether that’s enough to make fans doubt his status as QB1 remains to be seen, but early signs suggest yes.

Tucker’s debut might not have the flashy numbers some had hoped, but the running back was outstanding.

On top of that, he finished the game after an early exit before halftime.

Even after missing some games, Tucker finished with more rushing yards (98) than he did in the team’s 2021 game against the Cardinals (95). He also led the team with an 85-yard catch and another touchdown on a 55-yard catch-and-run.

Contact Emily Leiker anytime: e-mail | Twitter

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