Syracuse stuns Virginia Tech with late comeback in Blacksburg (full coverage)

All the familiar notes of this Syracuse football season were struck and scattered through 60 minutes of another week of heart palpitations, coaching anguish and, finally, euphoria.

Syracuse’s dynamic backfield of Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker both were great. The special teams weren’t.

The scoring margin, again, was razor thin, this time a thrilling 41-36 victory at Virginia Tech on Saturday afternooon at Lane Stadium that came when Shrader delivered a deep ball — and absorbed a huge hit — to Damien Alford for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in regulation.

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Syracuse and Virginia Tech square off at Lane Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12:30 PM.

It’s been 18 years since the Syracuse football team played at Lane Stadium – something that for more than a decade as BIG EAST rivals was a bi-annual fixture.

Syracuse and Virginia Tech played every year from 1992-2003 as league foes and were two of the league’s most successful programs as one or the other was the BIG EAST BCS Bowl representative from 1995-99. Both schools eventually left the BIG EAST to join the Atlantic Coast Conference and the series resumed in 2016, albeit in opposite divisions.

“We’re excited to play Virginia Tech,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “Coach Fuente does a fantastic job down there. We’re excited to go into that venue. I’ve never been there, personally, in 35 years and I hear it’s a heck of a place to play. I know the team is excited about going down there and we know it’s going to be a difficult task.”

Syracuse leads the all-time series against Virginia Tech, 10-8. The Orange have won three of the last four meetings, including the 2016 encounter in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse broke open a 17-17 contest with back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the No. 17 Hokies, 31-17. The triumph marked the Orange’s first win over a ranked team since 2012 and was the first ACC victory for Babers.

That game added to the list of thrillers between the two teams. In 2002, Damien Rhodes scored on a 25-yard run on the first play of the third overtime possession and then scored the two-point conversion to give the Orange a 50-42 lead. Syracuse clinched the victory when safety Maurice McClain intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the endzone on the first play of the Hokies’ third overtime possession. Troy Nunes threw for a career-high 403 yards, which rank second on the ‘Cuse single-game record list.

In 2000, Dwight Freeney broke the Syracuse and BIG EAST Conference single-game records against the Hokies and Michael Vick with 4.5 sacks in a 22-14 loss. The next season, the Orange upset No. 5 Virginia Tech, 22-14, in Lane Stadium.

Perhaps the game that comes to mind first for Syracuse fans is the 1998 instant classic in the Dome. The Hokies, which led 21-3 in the first half, recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown, returned a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass on a Syracuse 2-point conversion for a safety. A field goal fourth-quarter field goal gave Virginia Tech a 26-22 lead. The final drive of the game was a 14-play, 83-yard march that consumed the last 4:42 of the game. The Orange were faced with a fourth-and-seven at their own 44, but Donovan McNabb kept the comeback alive with a 41-yard scramble.

The game was captured on the final snap as McNabb connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Brominski to give the Orange a 28-26 victory.

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