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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 1 Game Recap: Syracuse 29, Ohio 9

The Orange top Ohio in Tim Albin’s head coaching debut, thanks to a strong running game and red zone defense.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Syracuse at Ohio
Tim Albin making his Ohio head coaching debut against Syracuse
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Syracuse ran the ball for 283 yards, led by RB Sean Tucker’s 181, and forced Ohio’s red zone offense to settle for three short field goals in route to a 29-9 victory in Athens, Ohio, on Saturday evening.

Ohio’s offense opened with a 12-play, 42-yard drive but came up empty when a 50-yard FG attempt fell short.

The Orange’s offense got off to a fast start, sparked by a 47-yard run by Tucker on its opening drive. QB Tommy DeVito scored the game’s first points a few plays later on six-yard TD run. DeVito finished with 92 yards passing and 47 yards rushing.

Ohio muffed the ensuing kickoff which led to a safety on the next play, extending Syracuse’s lead to 9-0.

The Bobcats offense moved the ball regularly down the field but couldn’t finish off drives with touchdowns, settling for three short FGs and a drive that ended deep in Orange territory on an interception. Ohio ended the game with six drives of seven plays or more including three drives of 12 plays or more but could muster only nine points.

The Bobcats starting field position was less than ideal throughout the contest, including drives beginning from its own 1, 4, 9, and 13. Ohio’s best starting field position for the game was its own 30-yard line, which lent to a lot of end-of-drive frustrations.

Ohio’s big-play wide receiver Isiah Cox did not play as well as projected starting right guard Hagen Meservy. Starting left guard Kurt Danneker was injured early on and did not return.

Despite missing a handful of their key contributors, the game was competitive late into the third quarter, with Syracuse leading by only 15-6. The Orange salted it away with a couple of run-heavy drives, including a nine-play, 74-yard drive in the fourth quarter which took six minutes off the clock, spearheaded by Tucker’s 44 yards rushing.

Ohio’s last chance to get back into the game in the fourth quarter ended when Syracuse true freshman DB Darian Chestnut intercepted Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke deep in Orange territory to preserve the victory. Chestnut was a big factor in the win for Syracuse, finishing the night with several solid plays including eight tackles and a pass defensed.

The Bobcats had some solid performances by some veterans. WR Jerome Buckner finished with 7 catches for 102 yards. DE Will Evans had a sack and pressured the QB at times. Safeties Jarren Hampton and Alvin Floyd finished with 10 tackles each.

Newly-minted Ohio captain LB Bryce Houston finished with 10 tackles.

Ohio entertains the Duquesne Dukes next week at 2 PM ET, a game which can be seen on ESPN3.