BOSTON (AP) — Syracuse hadn't won in more than a month and trailed by 11 in the regular-season finale. That's when the Orange snapped out of it and snapped a five-game skid.
“I think we just had enough,” said Devaughn Cooper, who caught seven passes for 80 yards the first of four unanswered touchdowns to help Syracuse beat Boston College 32-23 on Saturday night. “Five-game losing streak, that’s no fun at all. We needed this, it’s going to motivate us to go win a bowl game.”
Garrett Shrader completed 21 of 27 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, and Syracuse scored 26 straight points to overcome a two-score, fourth-quarter deficit. Oronde Gadsden II caught six passes for 106 yards and Damien Alford caught four for 83 yards and the go-ahead score for the Orange (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Sean Tucker ran for 125 yards and two TDs to help Syracuse win its first game since Oct. 15, when it improved to 6-0 and No. 14 in The Associated Press Top 25.
“Those five weeks ... it just shows you how tough this league is and how precious a win is,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers, noting that the Eagles beat North Carolina State, which beat North Carolina, which is playing in the ACC title game.
“That game seems like it’s 5 hours to me, like two-and-a-half movies, drive-in theaters A and B,” he said. “It just seems like a lot of stuff happened.”
Emmett Morehead completed 29 for 38 passes for 252 yards for BC (3-9, 2-6), but he also fumbled twice. Zay Flowers caught eight passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, surpassing 3,000 yards in his career and setting a school record with his 11th and 12th TD catch of the season.
BC took a 17-6 lead early in the fourth. But Shrader hit Cooper for for an 8-yard touchdown and then, after BC went five-and-out, Shrader needed just three plays and 50 seconds to go 73 yards, taking an 18-17 lead on a 58-yard strike to Alford with 7:05 to play.
BC’s next possession ended on a strip-sack by Steve Okechukwu at the Eagles 37, allowing the Orange to extend the lead to 25-17 on Tucker’s 5-yard TD run. BC turned the ball over on downs and Tucker broke free for a 29-yard score to make it 32-17.
"There was a moment when I think these guys did lose a little bit of faith, but we were able to rally back," Shrader said. “We’re a talented team and we knew that this year we underachieved in terms of our record and what we’re capable of.”
Morehead hit Flowers from 2 yards out to cut the Syracuse lead to 32-23, but the 2-point attempt failed.
Syracuse lost five straight after beating 15th-ranked North Carolina State and improving to No. 14 in the AP Top 25. They were all to winning teams – three of them ranked.
BC failed to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2015.
Flowers broke the school’s single-season record with his 11th touchdown, and then also grabbed the BC all-time mark with his second — the 29th of his career. That surpassed Kelvin Martin, a favorite target of Doug Flutie in the 1984 Cotton Bowl season.
Flowers was already the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards, finishing with 3,056, and receptions, now with a total of 200. He is one of 12 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the top receiver in college football.
Syracuse’s last possession of the first half began with Anwar Sparrow strip-sacking Morehead at the BC 20, but the Orange linebacker was flagged for excessive celebration. Shrader hit Gadsden II for an apparent touchdown, but it was negated because of a holding penalty.
On the next play Enrique Cruz was flagged and ejected for taking several swings at a BC player. There was more pushing and shoving at the end of the half until the officials separated the teams as they went to their locker rooms, and again at the end of the game when the Syracuse players tried to bring their flag to midfield.
“We’re not going to be doing that stuff. Once I figured out what was going on, I thought I handled it the way a dad would,” Babers said. “They didn’t do everything right and they weren’t always doing the smart things, but overall the effort was fabulous."
On Syracuse’s first two drives, BC came up with a strip-sack and a blocked punt – good for 10 points.
Syracuse: Awaits bowl invitation.
Boston College: End of season.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF