SOUTH BEND, I.N. (WSYR-TV) — A 21-0 run at the end of the first half catapulted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ahead of the Syracuse Orange, as they went on to defeat Syracuse 45-21 in the final game of the regular season Saturday.
In his final game for the Orange, redshirt senior quarterback Rex Culpepper finished with 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while completing 18 of 29 passes. Culpepper’s lone touchdown pass to Anthony Queeley, gave the Orange a 7-3 lead with about ten minutes left in the second quarter.
Freshman running back Sean Tucker provided Orange fans with some hope for the future Saturday. Tucker gained 113 yards, while scoring a touchdown on 24 carries. It was the freshman’s third 100-yard rushing game of the season. Tucker also posted a career high 46 receiving yards in the Orange’s loss to Notre Dame Saturday.
The young Syracuse defense forced two turnovers against Notre Dame, and it was a pair of freshman coming up with the big plays. Freshman linebacker Marlowe Wax recovered a fumble on Notre Dame’s opening drive of the second half. Then, on the Fighting Irish’s next drive, freshman defensive back Ja’Had Carter intercepted Notre Dame senior quarterback Ian Book.
Notre Dame started Saturday’s game with the ball and proceeded to go on a 12-play, 73-yard drive that ended in a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
The score would not change until Queeley’s receiving touchdown early in the second quarter, which gave Syracuse their only lead of the game.
Syracuse continued to lead until about four minutes left in the half, when Notre Dame scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 24-7 lead into the break.
Then, an explosive 40-yard run by Tucker cut the Irish lead to ten with over eleven minutes left in the third quarter.
Syracuse would intercept Book on the next drive, but a fumble by Culpepper on the first play of the Orange’s ensuing drive gave the ball right back to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish would score a touchdown on that drive to extend their lead 31-14.
The game was essentially out of reach when Notre Dame scored another touchdown right before the end of the third quarter, as the Fighting Irish went on to win 45-21.
Syracuse closes out the 2020 season with a 1-10 record, tied for the worst in program history, while Notre Dame remains undefeated and will play in the ACC Championship game on December 19.