Instant Juice: Syracuse 21, Connecticut 28

A quick take on Syracuse’s 28-21 loss against Connecticut:

WHAT HAPPENED: With the game tied at 21 with 9:05 left in the fourth quarter, Connecticut defensive back Sio Moore intercepted Ryan Nassib on a comeback route at the UConn 38. The Huskies immediately capitalized, as quarterback Scott McCummings found pay dirt on the ensuing drive in what turned out to be the game winning score. The Huskies stopped the Orange on a 4th and 6 near midfield with 1:36 left to seal the win.

ANALYSIS: It was a tale of two halves for both teams. Syracuse and Connecticut both struggled mightily in the first half, combining for seven turnovers. Ryan Nassib started the game 2 for 7 with an interception (it could’ve easily have been three), while his counterpart, Johnny McEntee, threw two picks. Connecticut also fumbled the ball three times. But things changed quickly after halftime, as each team scored touchdowns on the first four possessions of the second half. Nassib was able to get in a rhythm while the Huskies established their dominant running game. Lyle McCombs rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown.

It was a sweet win for Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni, who defeated the team he coached for 14 seasons before being fired in 2004. Connecticut needs to win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible, and took a huge step toward that with the win.

HERO: Connecticut wildcat quarterback Scott McCummings rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns, replacing a mostly ineffective McEntee (113 yards passing). Syracuse couldn’t stop the wildcat on Connecticut’s final scoring drive, and for the second straight week, failed to become bowl eligible. Meanwhile, Alec Lemon and Nick Provo had stellar games for Syracuse. Lemon was frequently featured, hauling in nine catches for 157 yards. Provo had seven receptions for 53 yards, and broke Chris Gedney’s record for season receptions by a tight end at Syracuse.

ZERO: Special teams really let Syracuse down. Punter Jonathan Fisher had five punts for an average of 33 yards. Kicker Ross Krautman missed his only field goal attempt of the game, booted a kickoff out of bounds, and kicked short several other times, allowing dangerous return man Nick Williams to amass 123 yards on three returns. Antwon Bailey also had a second straight subpar week. He rushed for just 50 yards, the lowest total he’s had since SU’s week 3 loss to USC. As a team, SU failed to capitalize on Connecticut’s five turnovers.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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