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Syracuse football scrimmage ends week of practice at Fort Drum

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FORT DRUM — A week of practices on post for the Syracuse University football came to a close with a special scrimmage made open to soldiers and their families.

Both team and post officials spoke enthusiastically about what they took away from the week’s practices.

Head coach Doug Marrone said he felt the week gave him a better sense of appreciation for the military’s work.

“I know walking away from here, the military will be on my thoughts daily,” he said.

Post commander Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, who during the game sat on the sidelines with his family along with several post leaders and Syracuse booster club members, said the week allowed for the post to promote itself and its soldiers to the general public and to boost morale.

“It’s just a good mutual exchange of ideas and experience between two institutions of the north country,” Gen. Milley said.

Marrone and the team afterward presented several signed helmets to leaders throughout the post’s 10th Mountain Division, including Gen. Milley.

Marrone said he hoped a similar training camp can take place before next season.

While enthusiasm was high, the scrimmage exposed a few flaws in the team’s game plan only weeks before its Sept. 1 opener against Northwestern at the Carrier Dome.

Marrone expressed concern that his team was not executing well, and that the offense was dropping too many passes and not finding openings. The quarterback unit gave up five interceptions during the two-hour scrimmage.

“Obviously, we need to make some vast improvements,” Marrone said.

The team, in its first practice with referees, also drew several penalty calls against them.

“When you get officials out there you can really see how it affected our game,” Marrone said.

One of the strong points for the team was the play of redshirt senior tight end David Stevens, who hauled in three touchdown passes, including a 35-yard haul from quarterback Ryan Nassib that opened the scoring.

Freshman running back Ashton Broyld also added a touchdown from near the goal line.

The highlight of the scrimmage came when freshman wide receiver Ben Lewis came up with a difficult diving catch while under tight coverage on a perfectly thrown, floating pass from sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt. The 20-yard touchdown catch drew one of the largest cheers of the day.

Promising junior wide receiver Adrian Flemming was carted away from the field with an apparent ankle injury. A team spokesman said he was being examined by the team’s medical staff.

The scrimmage drew several hundred soldiers and family members. The school’s cheerleaders and mascot Otto the Orange could be seen posing for photos and leading some of the younger attendants in cheer routines.

One of the soldiers in attendance, Sgt. Shaun M. Tichenor, was pulled in for a special postgame photo with the team and post leadership.

A member of the post’s 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, better known as the Warrior Transition Unit, Sgt. Tichenor lost his right leg in April 2011 while on deployment to southern Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He attended the game with his sons, Shaun Jr., 9, and Alejandro, 4.

While Sgt. Tichenor has never played organized football, the Minnesota native said he was a fan of the game and regularly plays catch with his son Shaun Jr., 9, who is playing in the post’s youth league for the first time.

“He wanted to play,” Sgt. Tichenor said. “When it came time, he was all in.”

He said that about a week and a half ago, he was informed that he was accepted to a new Army marksmanship team that will send wounded soldiers to competitions, with a goal of appearing in the Paralympics.

The Orange will head back to Syracuse today.




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