That was not how the second half was supposed to go...
After finding themselves down by a score of just 33-27 after the first half, there was hope that the Syracuse Orange might be able to carry some momentum into the third quarter and give Notre Dame a fight.
Instead, conservative play-calling, exhaustion on the SU side and a return to exactly how the game started simply sealed the Orange’s fate by the fourth quarter.
As we’ve noted numerous times before, Syracuse’s offense loses steam quickly. After the early fireworks — 36 combined points and 437 offensive yards in the first quarter — the teams would cool down off that record pace. Notre Dame scored 14 points in the third quarter to SU’s zero -- though the Orange did have some chances to get into the end zone. Whether SU’s offense (or the defense) can recover or not dictates whether they win or lose. In this one, neither recovered, and hence a 50-33 loss that was largely over with by the time we got to the fourth quarter.
Syracuse’s defense was incredibly bad, allowing 41 points to go with special teams’ own nine allowed (two on the first quarter PAT block and return, and seven on a kick return). Notre Dame compiled 654 offensive yards on the game, including 471 passing yards from DeShone Kizer. The Irish QB also had three touchdown passes to one interception. He also ran for one score.
The special teams gaffes were a major contributor given the nine points mentioned above, plus the missed field goal by Cole Murphy and the other botched extra point (a hold issue). SU also failed to convert a late onside kick attempt, and also would’ve turned it over on a fake punt if not for a defensive holding call. After last week’s field goal issues, special teams is becoming a major concern outside of Brisly Estime’s strong presence coming back to punt returns (three for 128 today).
Offensively, the Orange did what they usually do, whether they score points or not. Eric Dungey was 31-for-51 for 363 yards and two passing scores. He added another three rushing TDs and 49 yards on the ground -- his most active rushing game to-date thanks to Notre Dame’s second half pressure.
Amba Etta-Tawo was Syracuse’s leading receiver, with seven catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Ervin Philips had six catches for 68 and a score, while Steve Ishmael had five catches for 67 yards. SU got passes to seven different receivers, including a combined four catches from freshmen Sean Riley and Devin Butler for a total of 50 yards.
Dungey was the team’s leading rusher on the day, while Dontae Strickland was second with 43 yards on 12 carries.
Syracuse falls to 2-3 on the year and went just 2-2 in non-conference play (with losses to ND and USF). Again, tough scheduling screws you, and SU must now go 4-4 in ACC play to make a bowl game.
Notre Dame moves to 2-3 on the year and their own bowl hopes are far from assured given the schedule ahead of them.
More recaps to come. Though you probably just want to forget this one...