Burke’s two TDs and clutch KO return keys Shock victory

ALBANY, N.Y. – In a rematch of last year’s championship game (Albany won 26-14 in Syracuse), the Syracuse Shock (3-1 )held on to defeat the Albany Metro Mallers (2-1) 32-26 thanks to a Dewayne Gordon 4 yard touchdown with 1:55 to play, at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany. Shock receiver Tyrone Burke caught two touchdown passes and had a huge 87 yard kick-off return that set the Shock up for the game-winning touchdown.

Albany wasted little time trimming into a 13-point halftime deficit going 55 yards in less than four minutes to cut the Syracuse lead to 20-14 with 11:01 to play in the third quarter. It took the Mallers just six plays to get into the end zone, when quarter back C.J. Tarver hit receiver Domo Henderson for the nine yard score.

The Mallers had another golden opportunity to score deep inside Shock territory but three consecutive Tarver incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs for Albany.  The Mallers who held EFL leading rusher Gordon quiet for much of the game finally let him slip past the defensive line.

On Syracuse’s first play from scrimmage following the stop, Gordon broke free of the Albany defense and scampered 89 yards down the Syracuse sideline for the touchdown. Syracuse extended its lead to 26-14 with 5:57 to play in the third quarter on Gordon’s second TD of the game.

Albany’s second mistake of the half happened when a Tarver pass escaped the hands of his intended receiver and ended up in the palms of Syracuse defensive back Geremy Barnwell to stop another Maller drive. However, Albany continued to fight as Syracuse began to work the game clock.

Donald Murdock, Jr. helped keep Albany in the game, collecting his second interception of the contest following a Syracuse drive that spanned two quarters. On fourth and goal from the ten yard line Syracuse quarterback T.J. Sheard attempted to find Burke for a third time but was picked off by Murdock for a second time setting Albany up on its own five yard line.

After a few of unsuccessful Tarver runs, the Albany quarterback scrambled on a third and 16 and found receiver Ismaal Green streaking across the field, who then broke a tackle and cruised in for a 90 yard touchdown. Albany was within one score, 26-20, with 6:07 to play.

On the ensuing Syracuse drive the drama begin to take place. On a third and six from their own 24 yard line, Syracuse attempted to throw for the first down, but Albany linebacker Donald Murdock picked off Sheard setting up the Mallers on the Shock 28 yard line. Two plays later Tarver hit Domo Henderson for his second touchdown of the game with 2:37 remaining to play. The point after attempt was blocked by Syracuse, tying the game at 26.

Syracuse head coach Ken Anderson sent his best players in to receive the kick-off following the Maller touchdown, which included Burke. The Syracuse receiver collected the ball at his own 15 yard line raced towards his sideline, broke a few tackles and was off to the races before being caught from behind by an Albany defender. Gordon scored the go-ahead-touchdown three plays later.

Tarver operated the two-minute offense with precision, leading the Albany down to the Syracuse 15 yard line. However, constant Syracuse pressure forced Tarver to throw two passes out of bounds to preserve time. On fourth and 15, Tarver heaved a desperation pass towards the middle of the end zone, but was picked off by Syracuse cornerback Jaquan Williams ending Albany’s hopes of a comeback.

In the first half, after both teams were unable to move the ball on their first possessions, but the Shock eventually broke through with a meticulous drive. Syracuse got on the board first following a nine-play drive capped by a nine yard touchdown pass by Sheard to Burke with 2:06 remaining in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Syracuse forced an Albany punt, which was mishandled by the kicker, who was gobbled up by the Syracuse pursuit. The result was great field position for the Shock on the Mallers’ seven yard line.

On the very next play Gordon took a toss around the right side for the seven yard score, giving the Shock a 14-0 lead following a successful two-point conversion with 14:07 to play in the half.

Albany regained momentum halting a Syracuse drive deep into Maller territory. Sheard attempted to hit receiver Tyler Gage on a fade route but was picked off by Murdock Jr. The Mallers then went on an 80-yard, 12 play-drive resulting in Tarver connecting with Green on a 26-yard post route. Albany got within one score, 14-7 with 2:37 to go in the first half.

Syracuse ran the two-minute drill to perfection utilizing the sidelines and its lone remaining time out at the right time. The Shock moved the ball inside Maller territory thanks to heady play by Sheard who connected on 6-of-8 passes during the drive. With 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock Sheard found Burke on a fade route, connecting for the second time of the evening as the horn sounded, giving Syracuse a 20-7 halftime lead.

Gordon finished the game with 133 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Sheard went 14-for-33 with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Burke caught four passes for 53 yards,

Next week, Syracuse hosts Vermont (2-2), while Albany welcomes Plattsburgh to Christian Brothers Academy. Both games are set to kick-off at 7:30 p.m.

SYR. – 9 yard TD pass, #7 T. Sheard to #9 T. Burke (two-point conversion failed) 6-0, 2:06

SYR. – 7 yard TD run, #4 D. Gordon (two-point conversion good, #7 T. Sheard to #5 T. Gage) 14-0, 14:07
ALB. – 26 yard TD pass, #10 C. Tarver to #1 I. Green (Palmer kick good) 14-7, 2:37
SYR. – 9 yard TD pass, #7 T. Sheard to #9 T. Burke (two-point conversion failed) 20-7, 0:00

ALB. – 9 yard TD pass, #10 C. Tarver to #5 D. Henderson (Palmer kick good) 20-14, 11:01
SYR. – 89 yard TD run, #4 D. Gordon (two-point conversion no good) 26-14, 5:57

ALB. – 90 yard TD pass, #10 C. Tarver to #1 I. Green (Palmer kick no good) 26-20, 6:07
ALB. – 27 yard TD pass, #10 C. Tarver to #5 D. Henderson (Palmer kick blocked) 26-26, 4:00
SYR. – 1 yard TD run, #4 D. Gordon (Maeweather kick blocked) 32-26, 1:55

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