SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The Syracuse defense yielded just 135 yards and sacked Albany quarterbacks eight times but it was running back Sean Tucker who stole the show.
Tucker had 132 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns to lead the Orange (2-1) to a 62-24 win over the Great Danes (0-3).
Playing without leading wide receiver Taj Harris, who was out with an undisclosed injury, Syracuse amassed 623 yards of offense.
Tucker's day included touchdown runs of 56, 26, 12 and eight yards and a 72-yard screen pass from Garrett Shrader in the first game between the upstate New York teams. Four of his scores came in the first half when Syracuse built a 45-10 lead. He also had 121 yards receiving.
Tucker came one touchdown short of tying Jim Brown’s single-game RB record for touchdowns.
“It was just my O-line blocking the whole game,” Tucker said. “It starts with them and getting me the blocks throughout the game."
“He's (Tucker) a good player,” Albany coach Greg Gattuso said. “He sees it right and does a lot of good things.”
After scoring just seven points against Rutgers a week ago, Tucker said the offensive outburst was a much-needed “morale booster.”
“It was good just moving off of our loss last week, putting that past us, focusing on things to get better and coming out today and executing,” he said,
The Orange defense held the Great Danes (0-3) to two first downs and 67 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Tommy DeVito and Shrader shared time at quarterback for Syracuse. DeVito was 6 of 9 for 147 yards and one touchdown. Shrader was 11 of 15 for 190 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 42 yards and two scores. Damien Alford scored on a 73-yard pass from DeVito for the first touchdown of his Syracuse career.
The Orange got out to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter on two Tucker rushing touchdowns, but the Great Danes closed within four on a 37-yard field goal by Dylan Burns and a 25-yard interception return by Christian Lewis with 2:48 to go in the quarter. DeVito’s pass bounced off the hands of Trebor Pena and into the hands of Lewis, who ran it in for the score.
“When it was 14-10, we thought we can play with these guys. We heard it all week, guys talking trash, it was just good, like motivating that we could play with these guys,” Lewis said.
Just two plays later, though, the Orange scored on the DeVito-Alford connection and Syracuse was on its way. The Orange scored the next 48 points to put the game out of reach.
"Big plays give momentum and confidence to a team that couldn't do much last week playing at their own level," Gattuso said. “They got a big juice out of that and they played better and got confident."
Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler was 7 of 13 for 69 yards, and was sacked five times. Joey Carino completed 7 of 9 for 59 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another.
“Certainly, Syracuse has a really solid and big and strong front three or front four, but at the end of the day, collectively, as an offensive unit we just have got to be better,” Undercuffler said.
“I'm a D-line coach by trade,” Gattuso said. “They have a legitimately big-time defensive line. We could not control them."
SETTING A RECORD
With his two field goals, Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt overtook Cole Murphy as SU’s all-time leader in made field goals with 60.
SETTING A NOT-SO-GOOD RECORD
Syracuse set a program record with 16 penalties for 163 yards. A touchdown pass and long punt return were among the plays negated by the Orange errors.
THE TAKEAWAY Albany: The Great Danes made it interesting for awhile but showed it was an inferior opponent.
Syracuse: In a no-win situation, the Orange did what it had to do — win convincingly. Things get considerably tougher next week, however, against Liberty and quarterback Malik Willis.
Albany has a bye week before playing at Delaware.
Syracuse finishes a three-game homestand against Liberty on Friday night.
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