Syracuse Shock defense bends but doesn’t break in win

by Rob Tetro

When Vermont traveled to G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton to face the Syracuse Shock last Saturday, they came ready to compete.

Vermont, however, was only able to cross the goal line once — despite having many opportunities.

The Shock won the game 21-13.

The Shock received the opening kickoff. During the drive, Syracuse faced a 4th and short.

Shock quarterback T.J. Sheard started the game under center, but on this play, he lined up in the shotgun and found Tyler Gage on a slant for a Syracuse first down.

The following play, Sheard took the snap and rolled to his left. He gave a soft pump fake and found Gage wide open for a 40-yard touchdown pass.

Following the touchdown, Zack Grulich made his debut for The Shock. Grulich, who is a kicker, converted Syracuse’s first extra point attempt of the season to give them a 7-0 lead with 10:29 left in the first quarter.

Vermont’s opening drive stalled at the Shock’s 25 yard line.

When the Shock got the ball back, running back DeWayne Gordon caught two passes for crucial yardage.

Gordon eventually scored came off a run right up the middle from 6 yards out with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Syracuse’s defense forced a fumble that was recovered by E.J. MaeWeather.

After Syracuse went three and out following the turnover, Vermont returned the punt to Syracuse’s 40 yard line. Vermont’s field position got even better following a penalty at the end of the play.

The Shock’s defense, however, came through again, only allowing a field goal.

In the second half, Vermont drove the ball down the field and settled for a field goal to cut the Shock’s lead 14-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Vermont attempted a short squib kick. With Syracuse caught off guard, Vermont got the bounce they needed to convert the trick play. With momentum on its side, Vermont did what they could to keep the Shock defense guessing while executing multiple offensive schemes.

However, once more, Syracuse’s defense refused to allow Vermont to cross the goal-line.

Syracuse forced Vermont into a 35 yard field goal attempt with about 9 minutes left in the third quarter.  The attempt fell short of the uprights.

Gordon got right back to work during the Shock’s first drive of the second half. A couple of athletic runs by Gordon moved Syracuse into Vermont territory.

During the drive, however, Sheard attempted to connect with Tyrone Burke Jr., who was running a fade route down the right side of the field, but the ball was intercepted.

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