Syracuse 16, Pittsburgh 17 — What we learned

Syracuse was edged by Pittsburgh, 17-16, at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

The injuries keep piling up

Three more injuries during the Pitt game left an already thin Syracuse team even more shorthanded. Tackle Sean Hickey suffered a lower body injury in the first quarter after center Macky MacPherson rolled on his legs following a running play. Hickey didn’t return. Syracuse also lost safety Jeremi Wilkes and middle linebacker Marquis Spruill, who left the game in the third quarter after a vicious hit on Panthers quarterback Tom Savage. The trio joins a long list of injured players, including defensive back Julian Whigham, defensive end Isaiah Johnson, wide receivers Jarrod West and Brisly Estime and running back Prince-Tyson Gulley. “We’re not going to use excuses or injuries for reasons not to find a way to win games,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said.

» Related: Instant analysis of Syracuse’s loss to Pitt

Huntlinejuice

Syracuse fell a point short

Defense nearly won it

The loss wasted a sterling performance from the defense, which yielded just 239 total yards and 25 yards on the ground on 25 attempts. The Orange hurried Savage all day, and though it wasn’t the nine-sack performance of 2009, SU still managed to pick up three sacks and got quite a few licks on Savage. SU also won the turnover battle, including a nifty interception from Luke Arciniega interception after defensive back Ri’Shard Anderson batted a pass in the air. “I really like the way the kids fought. They played well on defense,” Shafer said “I was disappointed that we couldn’t find a way to get the win.”

More on that fake field goal

Down one point with just over a minute left and a drive stalled out on the 36-yard line, Shafer ordered the field goal unit to attempt what would’ve been a 53-yarder. Kicker Ryan Norton had previously missed a 41-yard attempt and also had a first quarter PAT blocked. In the scramble, Pitt didn’t account for Kendall Moore when the play was snapped. Backup quarterback and kick holder Charlie Loeb took the snap and fired to Moore, who could’ve walked in for a go-ahead score. But Pitt coach Paul Chryst was awarded a timeout from the officials, thwarting the trick play. Terrel Hunt’s pass to Christopher Clark on 4th and 8 was knocked away, and Pittsburgh ran out the clock after that. “I would have done the same thing if I was (Chryst) and I saw that we didn’t have someone covered,” Shafer said.

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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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