SYRACUSE — The Syracuse University football team aimed to finish Saturday’s game against Holy Cross with a victory and no additional injury concerns, and while the first goal was easily met, failure to complete the second mission could create lasting implications.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tommy DeVito went to the locker room after visiting the sideline injury tent early in the fourth quarter, putting a damper on the end of his second straight dazzling performance that led SU to a 41-3 nonconference victory over FCS Holy Cross in front of 40,575 fans at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange improved to 3-2 overall entering its bye week and will next play on Oct. 10 at North Carolina State in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup slated to be nationally-televised in the ESPN Thursday Night spotlight.
DeVito completed 19 of 31 passes for 269 yards and four touchdowns, becoming just the second QB in program history to produce multiple games of four passing TDs. DeVito, who accomplished the feat in consecutive weeks, joined Ryan Nassib, who finished his SU career with four such outings.
But DeVito was seen walking to the injury tent after going to the sideline at the end of his final possession — which ended with 11 minutes left and SU holding a 38-point advantage — and was then escorted to the locker room with a towel over his head. DeVito did not return to the field and head coach Dino Babers couldn’t provide an update on his status, except to say that his QB signaled a thumbs up when he first saw him after the game.
“I have no clue,” Babers said of the injury. “I saw him, he gave me the thumb’s up, and now we’ve got to wait and see what the doctor says.”
It was unclear if DeVito was injured during his last series, which he ended by throwing an interception to Holy Cross safety Grant Holloman. Babers later defended the decision to leave his first-year staring QB in the game to open the final quarter despite holding a comfortable lead.
“We’re playing football, we’re trying to get better and there are things we need to work on, and we can’t work on them unless they’re out there,” Babers said. “Our goal is totally different than some other people. We’re going to play the first team a lot and the first team offensive line was in front of him, and he’s going to be out there in that situation a lot over the next three years, so we don’t see that as a dangerous situation.”
SU played without starting center Sam Heckel, safety Andre Cisco, and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu. Heckel missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury while Cisco and Melifonwu were each held out for the second straight week due to lower-body ailments. Babers stated earlier this week that he is hopeful that each player could return after the bye along with defensive tackle McKinley Williams, who has yet to suit up this season due to a lower-body injury.
DeVito fired his TD passes to four different receivers — 14 yards to Aaron Hackett, 17 yards to Trishton Jackson, 47 yards to Taj Harris, and his 70-yard strike to Luke Benson for the freshman’s first career TD extended SU’s lead to 41-3 with 14:40 left. Harris caught six passes for a team-best 107 yards — crossing the field to evade several tackles on his TD catch — to mark his first career 100-yard outing.
SU running back Moe Neal surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards during a five-yard carry on the second possession of the game and became the 23rd player in program history to reach that milestone.
Senior Sterling Hofrichter booted a 52-yard field goal to provide a memorable highlight in the first half. One of the nation’s top punters, Hofrichter connected on his fourth career field goal and first since 2017.
The SU defense thoroughly dominated and limited the Crusaders (1-3) to just 138 yards of offense, including just 18 net rushing yards on 32 attempts, while tallying five sacks.
“I want more for myself and for this team,” SU defensive end Kendall Coleman said. “This was a good, solid win, but we still have some edges that need to be cleaned up and we need to take care of that before we get back into ACC games.”
The Orange defense also recovered a fumble to extend the nation’s third-longest streak of consecutive games with a takeaway to 19. SU entered Saturday trailing just Houston (21) and Mississippi State (20). The Orange defense failed to intercept a pass after doing so in each of the previous 17 games, ending the longest active streak in the FBS.