The Orange picked up an ACC win

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer didn't like the trick play in practice. He loved it during the game.

Running right off a reverse, wideout Jarrod West hit wide-open freshman Brisly Estime with a 25-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone to cap a third-quarter rally, and Syracuse beat Wake Forest 13-0 on Saturday.

The play worked to perfection after repeated misses in practice, and offensive coordinator George McDonald didn't jettison it during the game after Shafer had expressed his doubts.

"All week long, we tried three different kids on that play, and it was interception, interception, duck. It was horrible, horrible," Shafer said with a big smile. "I told George, 'It's out! It's out!' He didn't say anything. But I knew they were going to keep working it and they got it right by game time. That's what counts. Heckuva call by George. I don't know if I would have the intestinal fortitude to make that call."

It was a critical game for the Orange's postseason hopes. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has road games against Maryland and No. 3 Florida State in the next two weeks and finishes the season at home against Pittsburgh and Boston College.

Coming off a bye week, the Syracuse defense forgot about its last game, a 56-0 road loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago, repeatedly forcing Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price to throw on the run. Price, who has accounted for 62 touchdowns in his career (51 passing, 10 rushing, 1 receiving), finished 22 of 54 for 173 yards passing and, without star wideout Michael Campanaro, never was able to guide the Deacons inside the Syracuse 30-yard line.

It marked the Orange's first league shutout since a 42-0 Big East win over Rutgers in 1996, and the defense made the decisive play after Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt had broken a scoreless tie with a 6-yard run midway through the third quarter. Freshman defensive end Isaiah Johnson, pressed into a key role because of injuries along the line, batted a Price pass in the air and made a diving interception at the Wake Forest 25, and the Orange used the trick play on the next snap to take control.

"My confidence is really high," Johnson said. "They say I can't be a freshman all year, so I had to step up with the big guys. We haven't been clicking on all cylinders all season, but now it seems like we are. Having a bye week, we were itching to get back on the field. We were still mad. We're mad right now. We're back to .500, but that means nothing. We want to go bowling."

The Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-4 ACC) had won two of three and nearly upset No. 7 Miami a week ago, losing 24-21 after leading the entire game when the Hurricanes scored in the final minute. They struggled on this day without Campanaro, who left the game with an injured left shoulder in the first quarter.

"It certainly didn't help us," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "Their defense did a really nice job. We knew they were going to pressure and we didn't handle it very well. I thought we had a really good plan."

Sherman Ragland III picked up the slack for the injured star with 10 catches for 91 yards, both career highs.

Syracuse, which was held to only 75 yards rushing on 26 carries against the Yellow Jackets after gaining over 300 yards against both Clemson and North Carolina State, netted only 31 yards on 15 carries in the first half Saturday. But the Orange finished with a flourish, gaining 152 in the second half.

Hunt was 18 of 30 for 144 yards and Estime finished with nine catches for 62 yards and his first college TD.

Former Syracuse star Donovan McNabb, one of the greatest quarterbacks in school history, had his No. 5 jersey retired at halftime.