ATHENS, Ohio — The juice in this ‘Orange’ was more than a little runny.
Visiting Syracuse churned out all but 100 of its 383 yards of total offense on the ground and led wire-to-wire Saturday evening during a 29-9 victory over the Ohio University football team in the 2021 season opening contest for both programs at Peden Stadium.
The host Bobcats (0-1) trailed 9-0 after one quarter of play and were never closer than 12-6 entering the break as Stephen Johnson converted field goals of 22 yards and 30 yards throughout the second canto.
The Orange (1-0), however, opened the third stanza with a second Andre Szmyt field goal — this one from 20 yards out — and then Sean Tucker scored on a 6-yard run with 40 seconds remaining, giving SU a sizable 22-6 cushion headed into the fourth.
Johnson — who missed a 50-yarder early in the game — successfully converted his fourth and final attempt of the game with 11:21 remaining as his 25-yarder cut the deficit down to 22-9.
Cooper Lutz sealed the deal for Syracuse with 5:15 left in regulation after capping a 9-play, 74-yard drive with an 11-yard scamper for the eventual 20-point triumph.
The Orange — who entered the game as 2-point underdogs — started the scoring with a Tommy DeVito 6-yard TD run with 6:37 left in the first for a 7-0 edge. The guests followed by forcing a safety just 13 seconds later for a 9-point advantage.
Szmyt also booted a 29-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the half for a 12-3 cushion at the time.
The Bobcats were not called for a single penalty in the first game under new head coach Tim Albin, but the Green and White did commit the only turnover of the night in the fourth as Darian Chestnut picked off a pass in the end zone with 2:29 remaining.
Ohio was 5-for-12 on third down opportunities, while the Orange went 8-for-12 and did not face a fourth down situation. SU was also penalized four times for 39 yards.
Syracuse claimed a 21-20 edge in first downs and outgained the hosts by a 383-346 edge in total yards of offense, which included a 283-134 advantage on the ground.
De’Montre Tuggle paced the Ohio ground attack with 16 carries for 65 yards, while Kurtus Rourke went 21-of-28 passing for 142 yards while throwing one pick. Armani Rogers and Cameron Odom also completed a pass apiece for 32 and 38 yards, respectively.
Jerome Buckner led the OU wideouts with seven catches for 102 yards. Jarren Hampton, Alvin Floyd and Bryce Houston all paced the Bobcat defense with 10 tackles each.
Sean Tucker led Syracuse with 25 rushes for 181 yards, while DeVito went 11-for-17 passing for 92 yards. Taj Harris hauled in six passes for 29 yards and Mikel Jones led the SU defense with 10 tackles.
Ohio has now dropped consecutive season openers for the first time since the 2008-09 campaigns following last year’s 30-27 loss at Central Michigan.
The Bobcats return to action Saturday when they host Duquesne in a non-conference matchup at 2 p.m.
Editor’s Note: This story will appear in the Wednesday sports edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.