SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse enters its bye week holding its collective breath on the status of starting quarterback Tommy DeVito and waiting for its offense to start playing at the speed coach Dino Babers expects.
DeVito passed for four touchdowns to four different receivers, the Syracuse defense held Holy Cross to 18 yards rushing and the Orange (3-2) defeated the Crusaders (1-3), a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, 41-3 Saturday.
But DeVito, who was 19 of 31 for 269 yards, left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury. Things were well in hand for Syracuse, but Babers, who said DeVito gave himself a "thumbs up" after the win, didn't second-guess himself for leaving DeVito in the game.
"He had the first team offensive line in front of him. He's going to be out there a lot in those situations the next three years so we don't see it as a dangerous situation," he said.
Babers was effusive in his praise of the defense, but not as much for his unit on the other side of the ball.
"I thought our defense was fantastic," Babers said. "Holding a team to no touchdowns in college football is a big deal."
As for the offense?
"This is year one with our new group. Then we'll get to year two, then year three, and then it won't look like there's paint drying out there because right now it looks slow to me. We'll get it right."
Getting it right means eliminating turnovers. The Orange coughed it over three times in the fourth quarter.
"I thought that our offense did some things well in the first half. I thought we were really quick in the first quarter and slowed down a little bit in the second. In the second half, the three turnovers obviously brought us down," Babers said. "It's not as clean as I would have liked." The Orange scored 17 points in the first.
"No one gave us a chance here today and that's probably fair," Holy Cross coach Bob Chesney said. "But at the same time I like the toughness that we displayed out there."
The win was Syracuse's 13th straight against the Crusaders in the team's first meeting since 1973.
The Syracuse defense held Holy Cross to 138 yards total offense, sacked Connor Degenhardt four times and held the Crusaders quarterback to 13 of 28 and 104 yards passing. Holy Cross was averaging nine points a game entering Saturday's contest.
"That was a good defense, that was a good team all around," Degenhardt said.
"Overall, I think that on defense and offense, this team needs to step up a little more," Syracuse defensive lineman Kendall Coleman said. "We didn't just skate by, we went out there and handled business today, so I'm satisfied with the team in that aspect that we didn't let the opportunity get away from us but I definitely think that we're capable of more."
Aaron Hackett and Trishton Jackson, who scored two touchdowns each against Western Michigan the week before, added one each against the Crusaders. Freshman tight end Luke Benson scored his first touchdown on a 70-yard pass play and Harris took a DeVito pass 47 yards for a score.
Syracuse wasted little time getting on the board in its first possession as DeVito hit Hackett on a 14-yard scoring strike for a 7-0 lead. Less than three minutes later, the Orange recovered a Jon Jon Roberts fumbled punt on the Holy Cross 17 and capitalized immediately. On the first play, DeVito hit Jackson on a 17-yard pass play and a 14-0 lead. A 52-yard field goal by punter Sterling Hofrichter made it 17-0 midway through the first quarter. Hofrichter is also a placekicker with a very strong leg.
Syracuse took a 24-3 halftime lead on a 23-yard run up the middle by Abdul Adams and was never threatened.
Syracuse played without three starters: All-America free safety Andre Cisco, offensive lineman Sam Heckel and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu.
Tyrell Richards crushed Degenhardt for a 2-yard loss in the second quarter but was called for targeting on what seemed to be a legal hit.
IN THE RECORD BOOK:
Syracuse running back Moe Neal picked up 37 yards rushing, becoming the 23rd player in school history with more than 2,000 yards on the ground. DeVito is the second Orange quarterback with multiple games of more than four touchdown passes.
Holy Cross: The Crusaders couldn't get much going against Syracuse, which has been par for the course this season. Unless Holy Cross finds some answers it could be a long season in the Patriot League.
Syracuse: Orange fans will hold their breath on DeVito's status. It's hard to take much out of the Holy Cross game, but the offense sputtered for much of the time after a quick start. On the other hand, Syracuse managed to get over .500 and has two weeks to get healthy for the resumption of ACC play.
Holy Cross: The Crusaders kick off Patriot League action Saturday at Bucknell, the team's third-straight road game.
Syracuse: The Orange has a bye before heading off to Raleigh, NC for an Oct. 10 ACC matchup with North Carolina State.
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