Syracuse defeats Upstate Predators making a Strong Impact on and off the Field

by Gridiron Media

Syracuse,NY-Syracuse Strong overcomes sloppy play for big-time win over rival Upstate Predators

This was a defensive slugfest from the get-go with a lot of sloppy joe sprinkled between. 

The first score of the game didn’t come until the 10:51 mark of the second quarter and it was a spectacular defensive effort that made it happen. 

The Upstate Predators were driving but a clean strip from the defense provided a vintage scoop-and-score opportunity that defensive back Patrick Twum took full advantage of. He grabbed the loose ball and took off like a racehorse towards the end-zone. 

Wide receiver Shaquan Kirby was able to catch the two-point conversion to make it an 8-point advantage. 

The Syracuse offense which was muddied throughout the day by self-inflicted wounds, interceptions, and poor execution finally broke through thanks to their best player running back Rashad Burns.

He galloped, cut across the field like a Madden video game, and high-stepped it towards the end-zone with his patented LaDainian Tomlinson flip to cap off a 14-0 lead with the 20-yard scamper. 

The second-quarter scoring continued for Syracuse with a last-ditch effort heave from quarterback Shakem Buckmon with no time remaining. He found a wide-open LaQuan ‘LA’ Rouse for the buzzer-beater 39-yard touchdown to cap off a 20-point half. 

At halftime, Syracuse Strong Team President Khalid Bey had a special ceremony prepared to honor two amazing community partners. 

“Hope for Heather Inc” and “Shades of Inspiration” were both awarded $5,000 checks from the Syracuse Strong for their impact in the community.

Hope for Heather’s mission is to raise funds to support ovarian cancer research, to promote education and awareness, and to help to provide comfort to women and their families devastated by cancer.

While Shades of Inspiration is a support group founded by and for African American women who are battling breast cancer and/or who are breast cancer survivors.

Early in the third quarter the Upstate Predators finally showed signs of life scoring a touchdown to make it a 20-6 lead. These were the first points given up all season by the Strong who had previously held their opponents scoreless in 10 straight quarters to open 2022. 

The Predators got the ball back and were driving, with a touchdown they would’ve made it a one-score game, but the Syracuse Strong player of the game had other plans.

No. 25 Patrick Twum intercepted a wayward pass and took it coast-to-coast for his second defensive touchdown of the game putting the Strong up 26-6 and sealing the victory. 

Twum finished with five solo tackles, two fumble recoveries, three pass deflections, and was feisty throughout the game on the defensive side of the ball. 

At the end of the day, Syracuse won convincingly 26-12, however, this game could’ve gone very differently. 

The Upstate Predators had at least four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the contest in key situations. Additionally, they dropped three or four interceptions that also could’ve flipped the game. 

Normally you learn your greatest lessons during a loss, but Syracuse has plenty to take away from this one to improve for the future.

Quarterback Shakem ‘Buck’ Buckmon went 13-for-27 for 168 passing yards with one touchdown, two turnovers, and was sacked twice. He also contributed eight rushes for 32 yards.

Wide receiver LaQuan “LA” Rouse had two catches for 45 yards and the long touchdown at the end of the half. 

Defensive back Al Heath had four tackles, a fumble recovery, two pass deflections, and came away with an interception. 

Wide receiver Josh Powell wins the most charismatic sideline teammate award. He stayed engaged throughout the game and made several diving interceptions while watching the game and supporting his teammates. 

Other notable performances:

Running back Rashad Burns had 14 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.