Peden Stadium was nearly filled to capacity on Saturday night as a new era of Ohio University football got underway.
The first true home crowd since 2019 turned out to see the first game as head coach for Tim Albin, who is taking over after legendary Frank Solich retired in July.
Sean Tucker and the rest of the Syracuse Orange put a damper on the festivities though.
Tucker rushed for 181 yards and a touchdown, leading Syracuse to a 29-9 win over Ohio in the 2021 season opener in front of 23,904 fans.
Tucker carried the load with 25 carries, averaging 7.2 yards a touch.
Tucker’s efforts, combined with a stout Orange defense, led Syracuse to its first win over Ohio in a hundred years.
Ohio had 346 yards of total offense, but had to settle for three Stephen Johnson field goals.
Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke was efficient, completing 21 of 28 passes for 142 yards.
The Bobcats were held to 141 yards on 32 rushes, led by De’Montre Tuggle’s 65 yards on 16 carries.
Ohio never fully recovered from a sequence of plays that allowed Syracuse to take a two-possession lead in the first quarter.
Syracuse got on the board with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter on Tommy Devito’s 6-yard touchdown run.
Ohio muffed the ensuing kickoff, fumbling the ball back into the end zone before getting the ball out to its own 1-yard line.
The Orange took advantage on the next play, as Mikel Jones and Marlowe Wax combined to tackle Tuggle in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 lead.
Ohio got on the board after a 12-play, 91-yard drive resulted in Johnson’s first field goal, a 22-yard make to trail 9-3 with 13:33 left in the first half.
Syracuse answered with its own field goal, leading 12-3 after Andre Szmyt’s 29-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the first half.
The Bobcats drove deep into Syracuse territory before half, but had to settle for Johnson’s 30-yard field goal to trail 12-6 at halftime.
The Orange slowly built onto the lead in the second half. Ohio’s defense was able to hold them to another field goal try, Szmyt’s 20-yard field goal pushing the lead to 15-6 with 6:23 left in the third quarter.
Syracuse was able to punch one into the end zone before the end of the third quarter, going ahead 22-6 after Tucker’s 6-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds left in the third.
The drive covered 73 yards in just five plays. Tucker began the drive with a 28-yard run, then Devito rushed for a 15-yard run before completing a pass to Anthony Queeley for 21 more yards down to Ohio’s 9-yard line.
Ohio pulled to within 22-9 after Johson’s final field goal, a 25-yard boot with 11:21 to play.
Syracuse delivered the dagger with Cooper Lutz’s 11-yard run with 5:15 to play, going ahead 29-9.
The nine-play, 74-yard drive took six minutes off the clock and ended the scoring for both sides.
Devito completed 11 of 17 passes for 92 yards for Syracuse. Taj Harris caught six passes for 29 yards, while Queeley caught three passes for 39 yards.
Allison O’Shaan added 43 yards on the nine carries for Ohio.
Jerome Buckner led the receivers with seven catches for 102 yards for Ohio.
Rourke caught a pass for 38 yards on a trick play, with Cameron Odom completing the pass. Ty Walton also caught three passes for 24 yards.
It was just the third meeting all time between the two schools, with Syracuse also winning matchups in 1916 and 1921.
Ohio honored Solich on the field before the game. Solich won 115 games in 16 seasons for the Bobcats, second only to Don Peden in program history.
The season opener, and Albin’s head coaching debut at Ohio out of the way, the Bobcats will now set their sights on Duquesne.
Ohio will host Duquesne on Saturday at 2 p.m. in an attempt to gain the season’s first win.
Syracuse 29, Ohio 9
Syracuse 9 3 10 7 — 29
Ohio 0 6 0 3 — 9
S — Tommy Devito, 6-yard run (Andre Szmyt kick), 6:37, 1st
S — Safety, 6:24, 1st
OH — Stephen Johnson, 22-yard field goal, 13:33, 2nd
S — Andre Szmyt, 29-yard field goal, 6:23, 2nd
OH — Stephen Johnson, 30-yard field goal, :19, 2nd
S — Andre Szmyt, 20-yard field goal, 6:23, 3rd
S — Sean Tucker, 6-yard run (Andre Szmyt kick), :40, 3rd
OH — Stephen Johnson, 25-yard field goal, 11:21, 4th
S — Cooper Lutz, 11-yard run (Andre Szmyt kick), 5:15, 4th
First downs 21 20
Plays from scrimmage 62 63
Rushing (plys-yds) 44-283 32 134
Passing yards 100 212
Total net yards 383 346
Passes (cep-att-int) 12-18-0 23-31-1
Fumbles (no-lost) 0-0 1-0
Penalties (no-yds) 4-39 0-0
Punts (no-avg) 2-37.5 1-43
Time of possession 28:23 31:37
Syracuse — Sean Tucker 25-181 TD, Tommy Devito 7-49 TD, Cooper Lutz 5-25, Abdul Adams 3-19, Garrett Shrader 1-8, Jarveon Howard 1-3, Courtney Jackson 1-0; Ohio — De’Montre Tuggle 16-65, O’Shaan Allison 9-43, Kurtis Rourke 6-26, Armani Rogers 1-5.
Syracuse — Tommy Devito 11-17-0-92, Garrett Shrader 1-1-0-8; Ohio — Kurtis Rourke 21-28-1-142, Cameron Odom 1-1-0-38, Armani Rogers 1-2-0-32.
Syracuse — Anthony Queeley 3-39, Taj Harris 6-29, Rob Hanna 1-17, Jarveon Howard 1-8, Sharod Johnson 1-7; Ohio — Jerome Buckner 7-102, Kurtis Rourke 1-38, Ty Walton 3-24, Cameron Odom 2-18, Alec Burton 3-18, James Bostic 2-8, Ryan Luehrman 1-7, De’Montre Tuggle 2-0, Armani Rogers 1-(-1), Cross Miles 1-(-2).