Both the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers have moved the ball with ease this afternoon, but it's SU that finds itself on top due to some timely touchdown passes by Eric Dungey. The first, a 20-yarder off of play action to Ervin Philips, established the early lead. Dungey's second, to Steve Ishmael from inside the five, came with just over a minute remaining in the half to break a 10-10 tie.
Unfortunately, a boneheaded penalty by Ryan Norton and a completely botched bit of coverage by the Syracuse secondary set up the last-second field goal by Pitt's Chris Blewitt to narrow the Orange lead to four.
So what went well in the first half?
Well, everything on offense, pretty much. Syracuse had four drives, and three of them resulted in points. Dungey seems to be making quicker and more accurate reads and avoiding a lot of unnecessary hits. He's been a highly accurate 15-for-20 today with 139 yards through the air to go with his two TD passes. The play-calling has focused on keeping Philips, Ishmael and Brisly Estime involved, and handing off to Jordan Fredericks as well. The freshman started off the game with a 55-yard dash, though has only picked up 11 yards on five carries since.
But the offense has only had four drives, and that's where the problems arise...
The Orange blitz has gotten after Pitt QB Nathan Peterman, but he's largely been able to escape the rush and find an open man. Syracuse's secondary has been rough once again, with Panthers receivers open everywhere on the field. The most notable failure may have been a wide open completion with just seconds remaining in the second quarter to set up the Blewitt field goal. We've said before: it's getting rough to see this sort of thing on display while going completely unimproved week to week.
But the blitz IS getting after Peterman more and making some nice stops on third down. The team is still getting burned by screens, but they've managed to stop Pitt several times and force field goal tries over trips into the end zone.
Big second half for Syracuse as they look to grab win number four. If the offense can play as they have thus far, the Orange stand a chance -- even with a defense needing some help.
Leave your second half and post-game thoughts here. And G'ORANGE!