SYRACUSE For a three-minute span in the third quarter Saturday, Syracuse University looked like one of the most exciting teams in college football.
During the other 57 minutes, it looked like anything but.
First-year coach Scott Shafer couldnt care less because it was enough to give the Orange a 13-0 victory over Wake Forest in front of 38,550 fans at the Carrier Dome.
We had a battle. Its not always going to be sexy, we play football, said Shafer, whose team rebounded from a 56-0 loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19.
Back in the day, that was normal, 13-0 was a normal game ... It was ugly. We had a couple offenses that struggled to execute and you had a couple defenses that played good football. They really did. Being an old defensive guy, I found that game to be extremely sexy.
SU improved to 4-4 overall, 2-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and moved to within two victories of gaining bowl eligibility with four games left.
Were still mad (about the last game). Were mad right now, freshman defensive tackle Isaiah Johnson said. Were back to .500 but that means nothing to us. We want to go bowling, thats what time it is now.
After a miserable and mistake-ridden first half for both offenses, SU opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a Terrel Hunt six-yard touchdown run that put the Orange up 7-0.
On its next possession, SU scored on a trick play when senior wide receiver Jarrod West threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brisly Estime, the small and speedy freshman.
Quarterback Terrel Hunt took the snap and handed the ball off to halfback Jerome Smith. Smith then pitched the ball to West on an end-around, and West found a wide-open Estime in the back corner of the end zone.
He was wide open. I mean anybody could have thrown that, West said. The defense just bit on the reverse and he was wide open. I could have kicked it to him.
Shafer said the team had tried the play several times unsuccessfully during practice, and by the end of the week, he told offensive coordinator George McDonald to throw it out, of the game plan.
All week long we tried three different kids on that play and it was interception, interception, duck. I mean, it was horrible, Shafer said.
They got it right by game time and thats what counts. It was a great call by George. I dont know that I would have had the intestinal fortitude to make that call, but coach McDonald did and those two kids made a good play, he added.
Wests touchdown pass was set up by an interception from Johnson, whose playing time increased significantly due to several injuries up front.
Johnson tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage then caught the ball to give SU possession at the Wake Forest 25-yard line. Wests toss was the first play of the ensuing drive.
The Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-4) lost starting flanker Michael Campanaro to an unspecified injury in the second quarter. Campanaro had caught at least 10 passes in each of his last three games, the longest such streak in the country.
He caught just two for 11 yards on Saturday.
I thought we had some self-inflicted wounds today, especially in the first half, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. There were penalties, dropped balls, missed throws and missed protections. All of those things that had nothing to do with Mike Campanaro not being on the field.
Neither team advanced the ball past the opponents 25-yard line in the first half.
SU finished with seven punts, six first downs, five penalties and just 81 net yards on 34 plays.
Wake finished with 97 net yards on 42 plays and punted seven times compared to eight first downs.
We just got to keep finding ways to win, Shafer said. I dont care how pretty or ugly they are, as long as we find a way to get a W for this team.
Estime finished with career highs of nine catches and 62 yards and his first career touchdown. Terrel Hunt completed 18-of-30 passes or 144 yards and added 46 rushing yards on 10 carries.