Syracuse played one of its sloppiest games of the season in a 35-24 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.
The Orange committed a pair of turnovers that led to touchdowns and was flagged 12 times for 104 yards. Syracuse also had a missed field goal and another was blocked, while the secondary botched a surefire interception that would’ve lead to a touchdown.
Things started badly right away for the Orange, as Jeremiah Kobena fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Bearcats pounced. Four plays later, George Winn rushed for the first of three touchdowns to give Cincinnati the early lead.
“I think when you start a game off when you fumble the opening kickoff and Cincinnati took advantage of it and went up 7-0 — you’re fighting,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said to reporters following the game.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, when Ross Krautman’s 25 yard field goal early in the second quarter was blocked with the Orange trying to trim a 14-10 deficit.
Krautman would misfire again in the fourth quarter with 14:22 left and the Orange trailing 35-24. With SU’s drive stalling at the 25 yard line, Krautman missed a 42 yard try with the rain hammering down, and SU would never get close to scoring again.
“I knew exactly what was coming all week and we couldn’t execute it,” Marrone said. “We missed a field goal. The block is like a turnover in my mind.”
Syracuse’s second official turnover came in the third quarter when QB Ryan Nassib was blindsided on a sack when tailback Prince Tyson-Gulley missed a blocking assignment. Cincinnati recovered at the SU 15, and would tack on another touchdown.
Perhaps more frustrating, the Orange committed several costly and drive-killing penalties, including three false starts on the wide receivers.
“Well, false start as a receiver, you just have to look at the ball,” Marrone said. “Again, I just think you have to do a better job.”
But it wasn’t just the plays that made the stat sheet.
In the third quarter, SU led by three and had a chance to take a two-score lead when Munchie Legaux threw an errant pass that was an easy target for Syracuse’s secondary. Though Brandon Reddish was camped underneath it and had a certain pick-6, he simply dropped the gift wrapped interception with no one in front of him.
Cincinnati scored on its next drive, a crushing 14 point swing that SU never recovered from.
“It gets frustrating. Brandon had an opportunity to intercept it,” Marrone said. “Gosh, I’ll tell you that hurts when that happens because I’ve never been a part of that. I’ve got to do a better job.”