SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Brandon Joseph returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game, tailback Audric Estime rushed for 123 yards and scored twice in the fourth quarter to thwart a Syracuse rally, and Notre Dame defeated the No. 16 Orange 41-24 on Saturday.
Notre Dame (5-3) has won five of six since opening the season with two losses and has 26 consecutive regular-season wins against ACC opponents. The Fighting Irish have played their best football on the road, including a 45-32 win at No. 21 North Carolina despite five TD passes by UNC quarterback Drake Maye.
Logan Diggs scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter and Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Thomas with 17 seconds left in the second period. Pyne was 9 of 19 passing for 116 yards.
Syracuse (6-2) suffered its first loss of the season last week at Clemson, blowing an 11-point halftime lead and falling 27-21. Star tailback Sean Tucker only had five carries in that game and coach Dino Babers vowed that would not happen again.
It didn't: Tucker finished with 60 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 4-yard run in the final minute of the third quarter to pull Syracuse within 24-17.
Starting Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader left in the third quarter after completing 5 of 14 passes for just 35 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Oronde Gadsden II. Babers said in a TV interview at halftime that Shrader was injured but didn't specify.
Backup quarterback Carlos Del Rio-Wilson sparked the Orange, including a 23-yard pass to Damien Alford to set up Tucker's score. But a tipped pass was intercepted by Notre Dame's Marist Liufau less than 2 minutes into the fourth quarter and Estime scored on an 11-yard run at 9:11. He added a 2-yard touchdown run midway through the period.
Syracuse entered the game leading the ACC in total defense, but its run defense was exposed by Clemson. The Tigers rushed for 293 yards on 60 tries and the Irish seemed intent on doing the same, relying on their huge offensive line and the punishing runs of Estime and Diggs. They took turns during a 55-yard scoring drive, all but two of the plays on the ground with Diggs scoring on a 3-yard run midway through the second quarter to give the Irish a 14-7 lead.
The Irish outgained Syracuse 246-61 on the ground.
Pyne, who was rarely pressured, threw to tight end Michael Mayer for 37 yards and again for 11 more before Thomas's TD catch gave the Irish a 21-7 lead. The Irish outgained the Orange 225-73 in the opening half.
Mayer entered the game needing 25 yards to become the Irish's all-time leader in receiving yards for the position - and it did. He finished with three catches for 54 yards and has 1,870 to best Tyler Eifert's record of 1,840 yards set from 2009-12.
Mayer has caught at least one pass in 32 straight games and needs one touchdown catch to break a tie with Ken MacAfee 1974-77 for most in a career - both have 15.
Syracuse attracted its second straight sellout crowd, which had an early effect in the indoors stadium. The Irish were called for two false starts and Blake Grupe missed a 39-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
Syracuse fell only two spots after the loss at Clemson, but this loss will drop the Orange a lot.
Notre Dame: The Irish have rebounded nicely after their awful start and now have defeated two ranked teams on the road. They'll get their biggest test of the season next week when they host No. 5 Clemson next Saturday.
Syracuse: Shrader was one of the main keys to the team's success, and he's the acknowledged leader. Del Rio-Wilson showed he could step in and be effective.
Notre Dame hosts No. 5 Clemson next Saturday.
Syracuse is at Pittsburgh next Saturday.
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