Lester's offense not enough to make up for defense as Broncos drop final non-conference game, 52-33

Western Michigan traveled to New York to play the Syracuse Orange in their last power five match-up of the season. Although the Broncos kept within striking distance for most of the game, they ended up falling to the Orange 52-33.

The Orange came out strong, dominating the Bronco defense early. Within the first two minutes of play, the Orange scored a touchdown on a 23-yard run from Moe Neal. Later in the first quarter, near the five minute mark, quarterback Tommy DeVito threw a 10-yard pass to Aaron Hackett to extend the Orange’s lead. The first quarter ended with the Broncos trailing 14-0.

Into the start of the second quarter, the Orange struck early again within the first three minutes on a 36-yard rushing touchdown from DeVito. Finally after the third touchdown from the Orange, the Broncos would start to settle into the game. 

Bellamy was once again the voice on offense averaging 11 yards per carry. He would break out on a 47-yard run to get the Broncos on the scoreboard. The Broncos would find the endzone shortly after cutting the lead to just eight points.  

Bronco quarterback Jon Wassink found tight end Giovanni Ricci on a two-yard reception to bring the score to 21-13. Syracuse would kick a 24-yard field goal a few drives later and go into halftime with a 24-13 lead over the Broncos. 

The third quarter would be a back and forth battle with the Orange striking first on a score off of a 59-yard touchdown pass from DeVito to receiver Trishton Jackson. The Broncos would respond on the next drive as Bellamy found a hole and raced to the endzone on a 43-yard run. Western would attempt the two-point conversion but Wassink’s pass fell incomplete. 

Lester's offense not enough to make up for defense as Broncos drop final non-conference game, 52-33

LeVante Bellamy finds a hole in the Syracuse defense.

DeVito and Jackson would connect again on a 49-yard touchdown reception and push the lead back up to 19 points. Western did not take long to respond as they too had a long reception for a touchdown. Wassink found Jaylen Hall on a 60-yard bomb to cut the deficit to 12. 

With just 49 seconds left in the third quarter, the Broncos would cut the lead to five on an eight-yard run by Sean Tyler. Western would enter the fourth quarter down 38-33 with momentum on their side. However, Bellamy suffered an injury in the third quarter and would not return to the game. 

DeVito and Hackett would connect again for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Broncos would be forced to go for it on fourth down on two straight drives and failed to convert. Those failed fourth down conversions would be the nail in the coffin for Western.

The Orange would extend their lead to 19 on a 16-yard rushing touchdown by Neal. Western failed to find the end zone again and would suffer a 52-33 loss on the road. 

Even with dominant performances on the offense from a handful of Broncos, the defense was again held in check and didn’t live up to their expectations to help get the program a signature road win. This is the second time the Broncos have faced the Orange and both times allowed 52 points, but scored a combined total of 72 points on offense. 

Some of the key players for the Broncos in this game were Wassink, Bellamy, and Ricci. Wassink finished with 23 completions on 46 attempts and threw for 356 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Bellamy ran for 165 yards on 15 carries before heading to the locker room in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. Ricci had a season-high day with eight catches for 105 yards.

The Broncos start MAC play next weekend as they host rival Central Michigan in the battle for the Victory Cannon. Kickoff is set for noon on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Waldo Stadium. 

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