The Syracuse Orange managed their best offensive output of the season on Saturday vs. the Pittsburgh Panthers. Unfortunately, that was far from enough to beat Pitt in a record-shattering 76-55 shootout at Heinz Field.
In the highest-scoring game in ACC history, both teams tallied over 640 yards of offense. The first half was admittedly high-scoring (35-21), but it didn’t feature the video game numbers we saw in the second half at all. SU and Pitt scored over 40 combined points in the fourth quarter alone.
Zack Mahoney looked as crisp as he ever has in the pocket, showing a mastery of the Orange offense that had escaped him in his two previous starts. He managed to tie Ryan Nassib’s single-game completions record with 42 on the game. Mahoney threw for 440 yards and five TDs — the long being a 49-yard strike to Etta-Tawo in the fourth quarter. His yardage total was the second-highest in school history, while he tied the single-game touchdown pass mark.
Etta-Tawo had his own record day, with 13 catches for 178 yards and five touchdown grabs. It was an impressive way to go out for a wide receiver who’s already surpassed every mark set before him at Syracuse. The five TD grabs were the new Orange record, beating the old one of four in one game.
While the passing game clearly ruled the day, the run game’s effectiveness did help create more space for Mahoney to throw, too. Moe Neal ran for 91 yards on eight carries and Dontae Strickland had 20 carries for 63 yards himself. Mahoney also tacked on 49 of his own. SU had 228 yards on the day, and four rushing scores.
But despite all of those accolades and the season-highs for points and yardage, the defense simply could not make a stop to save their lives. While Syracuse ran 106 plays from scrimmage and managed 38 first downs, Pitt had 20 first downs (and 76 points) on just 59 total plays. That’s a ridiculous average gain per play, clearly. And few offenses would be able to keep pace with that. Down 14 at the break, SU seemed to be holding up. However, a slow start to the third quarter had the Panthers off to the races quickly.
Plenty more to come, and we’ll create a full rundown of all of the Orange records (good and bad) that fell come tomorrow. Until then, take solace in the fact that this was a fun preview of what may in Syracuse’s near future -- except with us on the winning end, unlike today’s result.
Any quick thoughts right after the game? Share them below.