Scott Shafer told reporters this week that the Syracuse Orange were three or four plays away from winning most if not all of the games they lost so far. Perhaps that's the theme of the entire season, then. It perfectly sums up Saturday's 23-20 loss to the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers on Homecoming Weekend.
Syracuse took a 17-13 lead into halftime behind a solid offensive performance by quarterback Eric Dungey, wide receiver Steve Ishmael and hybrid Erv Phillips. The trio pushed the ball down the field in bunches and Dungey connected with both of them for touchdowns. A third red zone attempt was stymied by curious Tim Lester playcalls and the Orange settled for a field goal in a wasted opportunity that would come back to haunt them.
In the second half, Dungey took yet another big hit and briefly laid on the ground before getting right back. Unfortunately, he followed that up with consecutive interceptions that took the wind out of the offense's sails. Meanwhile, Pitt continued to chip away at the Syracuse defense behind
Qadree Ollison (103 yards, 2 TDs), Tyler Boyd (12 receptions, 93 yards) and Dontez Ford (four receptions, 78 yards). With the score tied 20-20 at the 9:17 mark, Pitt began a drive just outside their own goal line and drove the ball right down the field. A fourth-down was converted on a fake punt (we got Dixoned!) and then Pitt killed the clock all the way down to our end zone where Chris Blewitt did the opposite of his name and kicked the game-winner in the final seconds.
It's a fourth-straight loss for the Orange and the wheels are officially off the wagon. Florida State, Louisville and Clemson loom and it's not at all unlikely that SU will be 3-7 headed into the final two games of the season. There's a lot of big questions to be asked this week and in the coming weeks and we'll get to that.
In the meantime, talk out your feelings below.