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Syracuse beats Wake Forest in OT with 94-yard fumble return

Syracuse stopped Wake Forest’s overtime possession by returning a fumble for a touchdown to win 39-30 in the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

Andre Szmyt’s 40-yard field goal to open overtime put Syracuse ahead. Wake Forest had a first down at the 10-yard line before receiver Kendall Hinton was stripped by Trill Williams, who sprinted with the ball 94 yards for another six points.

Wake Forest’s Nick Sciba kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to extend the game at 30-30.

That came after Szmyt’s 49-yarder for Syracuse with 44 seconds to play broke a tie. He finished with four field goals.

The outcome will likely deny Wake Forest (8-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) a spot in a major bowl.

Syracuse (5-7, 2-6), which began the season with a national ranking, won two of its final three games in a mostly disappointing year.

Backup quarterback Sam Hartman of Wake Forest threw for 350 yards on 25-for-42 passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Syracuse’s Clayton Welch was 21-for-36 for 234 yards, also with two interceptions and two touchdown throws. Running back Moe Neal gained 98 rushing yards on 20 carries.

It was an eventful final nine minutes of regulation. Neal ran 13 yards untouched for a tiebreaking touchdown to give Syracuse a 27-20 lead with 8:29 remaining.

Wake Forest came back to tie on Hartman’s 2-yard fourth-down pass to Kendall Hinton. The drive also included a fourth-down conversion in Wake Forest territory courtesy of a Syracuse penalty.

Wake Forest rallied from a 14-point deficit.

Donavon Greene’s 75-yard touchdown reception from Hartman helped the Demon Deacons pull even at 20-20 in the third quarter.

The teams combined to throw five first-half interceptions.

Syracuse’s Welch, who drew the start in place of injured Tommy DeVito, threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions in the first half.

Welch threw for 12 yards to Trishton Jackson for the first touchdown of the game. The Orange went up 17-3 early in the second quarter on Welch’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Luke Benson.

Wake Forest starting quarterback Jamie Newman was 6-for-13 for 71 yards and one interception before exiting in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury.

Wake Forest opened the scoring on Sciba’s 43-yard field goal less than five minutes into the game. He connected from 45 yards on the last play of the first half. Those kicks pushed his NCAA-record streak of successful field-goal attempts to 34, though the streak ended on a 48-yard miss early in the fourth quarter.

Wake Forest running back Cade Carney scored on a 19-yard run less than two minutes into the second half.

–Field Level Media