Syracuse falls to North Carolina in season opener, 31-6 (full coverage)

Wide receiver Sharod Johnson watching a pass slip through his outstretched hands in the end zone. Defensive lineman Drew Tuazama blowing up the punter on a blindside block to negate a punt return for touchdown. Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Andre Szmyt leaving a chip-shot field right.

Syracuse football gave itself chances to upset No. 18 North Carolina in its season opener on Saturday, but an inability to take advantage of those opportunities led to a 31-6 loss at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Playing in front of only 25 fans after a truncated offseason, both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense as well as tackle consistently on defense.

The Orange produced just 202 yards on 73 plays as a makeshift offensive line struggled to open up holes as well as protect redshirt sophomore quarterback Tommy DeVito After being sacked 44 times last year — the most in the Power-Five — DeVito was dropped seven times by the Tar Heels.

The passing game looked rusty, including drops, overthrows and the same miscommunications that haunted DeVito and junior wideout Taj Harris last year. DeVito left the game during garbage time having completed just 13-of-31 passes for 112 yards. Only the quick game and DeVito’s running abilityprovided semi-consistent gains.

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The long-awaited start to the 2020 Syracuse football season is here. The Orange kickoff the fifth season under the direction of head coach Dino Babers at #18 North Carolina (0-0) on Saturday, September 12 at Noon. The game will air on the ACC Network.

When the Orange and North Carolina meet for the sixth time in series history, each team will have had only four weeks to prepare for the opponent because of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule revisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a big challenge on both sides,” Babers said at his weekly news conference on Monday morning. “This is one of those years where it’s not that you are not looking at your first opponent, but you really need to look at what you are doing and to make sure that your guys have a grip on what you are doing. In a game like this is going to be difficult. The big thing is that our guys are excited about playing a football game and we are going to go down there and give it our best shot.”

Syracuse owns an 84-42-4 record in season-opening contests, including first-game wins in each of the past six seasons. This year marks the first time that ‘Cuse has opened with an ACC opponent since joining the league in 2013. The last time the Orange played in Chapel Hill was the 2003 season-opener, which Syracuse won in triple overtime, 49-47. Syracuse also won the most recent game in the series in overtime, earning a 40-37 double OT victory in the Dome in 2018.

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