Three weeks ago, the Syracuse football team was surrounded by the sweet smell of success, but that scent has been replaced with one with more than a hint of desperation. Friday night, the Orange slid into the Big East basement when they were outclassed in front of a Homecoming crowd by South Florida, 37-17. The third straight loss for SU (5-5, 1-4 Big East) was due to a poor all-around effort, giving up 490 yards in the game while amassing almost half of their 405 yards of offense in the fourth quarter after the game was all but over.
After a shanked punt followed three offensive plays on their first possession, the Orange allowed a field goal and trailed 3-0 with just over five minutes elapsed. After two more Syracuse punts, South Florida tacked on a touchdown early in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead. Two possessions later, SU finally got on the scoreboard when they converted a short field into a 52-yard scoring drive. On the fifth play of the possession, Ryan Nasssib hit Alec Lemon for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Ross Krautman’s extra point made the deficit only 10-7 with just under four minutes left in the first half. The Bulls responded quickly, matching that score with a touchdown of their own to stretch the lead to 17-7. The Orange ground out 45 yards in 11 plays on their next possession and cashed in when Krautman booted a 28-yard field goal with 1:21 on the clock to get within a touchdown at 17-10. Once again, USF matched the SU scoring drive, booting a field goal on the final play of the opening half to take a 20-10 lead.
South Florida took the kickoff to start the third quarter and ground out a long drive resulting in a field goal and a 23-10 lead. The Orange could not do anything with the ball, but got a saving play from the defense on the ensuing USF drive. Keon Lyn forced a fumble just before one of the Bulls crossed the goal line and when the ball rolled out of bounds, SU took over on a touchback. The two teams traded punts on their next possessions, then Syracuse set out on a drive that reached the USF three, but Nassib’s flip to Beckett Wales while under pressure fell harmlessly to the ground, keeping the Orange from making it a one possession game. SU forced a quick punt on the Bulls’ next drive, but Alec Lemon could not bring down a pass in the end zone on fourth down on the ensuing possession, keeping Syracuse down 13 points. USF then put the game away with a touchdown drive to go up 30-10 with just over five minutes left. The Bulls then went into a prevent defense and the Orange took advantage. Nassib found Lemon on a short fourth down pass and Lemon zipped down the field for a 58-yard touchdown. Krautman’s extra point with 3:41 left clipped the South Florida lead to 30-17. Syracuse tried an onside kick, but failed and the visitors marched 46 yards in six running plays for the final score of the night with 1:01 on the clock.
For the second straight week, Alec Lemon had a huge game, snaring ten passes for a career-high 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ryan Nassib threw 46 times, completing 23 passes for 297 yards and a pair of scores. Antwon Bailey led the ground game with 18 carries for 65 yards. Phillip Thomas was a monster on defense, tallying a personal best 14 tackles, including a tackle for loss. Marquis Spruill had the team’s only other tackle for loss and Keon Lyn was credited with a forced fumble.
* Ryan Nassib now has 217 completions on the season, bettering his own school record of 202 that he set last year.
* Alec Lemon has back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, marking the first time an SU player has achieved that since 2007.
* The Orange has two weeks to lick their wounds before returning to action on Saturday, November 26 when they welcome Cincinnati to the Dome. The Bearcats (7-2, 3-1), who currently reside in first place in the Big East, lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros for the season last Saturday and travel to Rutgers this Saturday. The SU-Cincinnati game will get underway at 9:00am Pacific and the game will be televised on either ESPN2 or through pay-per-view.