Orange douses Flames in debut

DeVito

Tommy DeVito made his first career start a success by leading three touchdown drives and No. 22 Syracuse blanked host Liberty 24-0 on Saturday night.

After making eight appearances last season while Eric Dungey led Syracuse to a 10-win season, DeVito did enough to help the Orange (1-0) win its sixth straight season opener. He completed 17 of 35 passes for 176 yards and overcame two interceptions.

DeVito led three drives that resulted in rushing touchdowns as the Orange piled up 192 yards on the ground.

Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard scored on short runs before Mo Neal scored from 42 yards out in the fourth quarter.

It was Syracuse’s first shutout on the road since the Orange won at Tulane on Sept. 28, 1991, 24-0. The Orange shut out Wisconsin on Aug. 24, 1997, 34-0, in the Meadowlands.

Neal led the Orange with 89 yards on 14 attempts, Adams finished with 49 yards and Howard had 32 yards.

Neal also was Syracuse’s leading receiver with 54 yards on three catches.

Syracuse scored its other points on a 45-yard field goal by Andre Szmyt late in the opening quarter. An interception by Syracuse redshirt sophomore Ifeatu Melifonwu set up the field goal.

The Orange scored their first TD of the season with 10 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the first half when Adams capped a 14-play, 71-yard drive by plunging into the end zone from two yards out on a third down. DeVito sparked the drive with a 31-yard pass to receiver Taj Harris on first down. He also dodged a Liberty blitz to connect with Neal for a 14-yard pass.

Syracuse extended its lead to 17-0 when Howard scored on a second down from one yard out. His touchdown capped a five-play, 37-yard drive that spanned 1:53 and occurred after defensive back Andre Cisco intercepted Liberty quarterback Stephen Calvert on a third down.

The Orange punctuated the shutout with 12:35 left in the fourth when Neal converted a fourth down by rumbling up the middle untouched.

Calvert completed 20 of 39 passes for 234 yards but threw two interceptions and was sacked eight times, Syracuse’s highest total for a single game since it recorded nine sacks against Rutgers in 2009. Kendall Coleman and Josh Black each finished with two sacks for the Orange.

Antonio Gandy-Golden led all Liberty receivers with six receptions for 119 yards.

Playing its first home game against a ranked opponent, Liberty (0-1) finished with minus-4 rushing yards on 34 attempts, converted 3 of 16 third downs and came nowhere close to duplicating its season opener from two years ago when it stunned Baylor 48-45.

SU last held an opponent to negative total rushing yardage in a victory over Connecticut in 2012 when the Huskies finished with minus 6 yards.

Lakiem Williams led the Orange with 11 tackles.

n NOTES: The announced crowd of 21,679 at Williams Stadium was the third largest for a Liberty game. The Flames attracted a record 22,551 fans for a game against Montana in 2015. ... Syracuse extended its streak of forcing a turnover to 15 straight games as Trill Williams caused a fumble in the first quarter. ... Syracuse next plays at Maryland at noon Sept. 7.

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