‘Next man steps up’ as Syracuse reaches bowl season

Broyld will play the hybrid position in SU's offense this year

Former Syracuse University head football coach and Hall of Famer Dick MacPherson sat in the third row of the press box on Saturday.

He and his wife, Sandra were watching intently. They were zeroed in on No. 59, the center and grandson, Macky as he played his final game at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse is headed to a bowl game

“A lot of time left,” MacPherson assured Sandra. “Let’s see what their two-minute offense is made of. C’mon Macky.”

Boston College had just kicked a 21-yard field goal with 2:08 left in the game to up its lead to 31-27. With no timeouts, the Orange got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff at their own 25-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Terrell Hunt completed consecutive passes to redshirt freshman tight end Josh Parris and redshirt freshman wide receiver Alvin Cornelius for 15 and seven yards, respectively and then rushed for eight yards to the BC 45-yard line. A pass interference call gave the Orange the ball at the Eagles 33-yard line.

On the next play, Hunt scampered eight yards before having the ball ripped out of his hands. MacPherson pounced on the loose ball to preserve the drive. Four plays later, Hunt found Parris on an eight-yard TD strike with six ticks remaining on the clock as the Orange escaped with the 34-31 win and became bowl eligible with a 6-6 record.

» Related: Instant analysis of Syracuse’s win

“Just fantastic,” Dick MacPherson proclaimed. “That is the greatest comeback I have ever seen and I’ve watched a lot of games here,” he added as his eyes started to water.

His grandson agreed.

“It was a hard fought game, and to be honest with you I think it was one of the top five Syracuse games that has ever been played in the Dome,” Macky MacPherson said. “I’ve been watching games here for a while and to go out like that, that’s going out with a bang.”

Indeed it is. For MacPherson and the 18 other players who were making their final Carrier Dome appearance, the game will be one for the ages and will be most remembered by the resiliency of the team that produced the stunning comeback to clinch a bowl bid (the third in four years) in SU’s inaugural season in the ACC.

“When I first got the job here I talked about character and what I like the most about this senior class is their character,” first year head coach Scott Shafer said.

“Going into this game, we’re seven points shy of having two more victories and if we do that everyone’s happy around here, but we didn’t do it. We came up short. Today it was a war. It was a war about character.

“Our creed has always been character wins out,” Shafer continued. “We’ll never, ever, ever give up. Never. And I don’t care if it was Florida State where we got our butts kicked or Clemson when we let ourselves down, most importantly, our kids never quit and they come back the next week and they’re resilient. The last two weeks we’ve been beat up, beat up pretty damn good. We had a lot of guys out. That ‘next guy in’ has been our creed. I don’t care what your name is, I don’t care what jersey, I don’t care what position you’re supposed to be playing, but the next man in is up and it’s his job to get it done.”

Every “next man up ”on the Syracuse roster did get the job done, playing key roles in the Orange’s victory against the Eagles.

Senior Sean Hickey who was injured, didn’t take a snap in practice all week, but insisted that he play. Sophomore Michael Lasker stepped in for Hickey after he re-injured himself.

“We waited as long as we could and then we shot him (Hickey) up and he played as long as he could for as hard as he could and he just went,” Shafer shared. “Finally he couldn’t play anymore so Lasker goes in and he plays a good football game.”

The next man up.

Senior linebacker Marquis Spruill went down with an injury and junior Luke Arciniega came in until Spruill was later able to return to the game.

The next man up.

Backup junior wide receiver Quinta Funderburk who made his first career start in the game against Pittsburgh last week, made a spectacular 28-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter which helped set up Ryan Norton’s 44-yard field goal that cut the Eagles lead to 28-27.

The next man up.

Cornelius made his first career start in the Florida State game on Nov. 16. He has come up big for the Orange in the last two weeks. Cornelius caught a 42-yard touchdown pass against Pittsburgh and on Saturday, had seven catches for 81 yards including the crucial 14-yard catch on SU’s winning drive.

The next man up.

Parris played for injured senior tight end Beckett Wales. Parris had seven catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with six seconds left.

“Alvin Cornelius two weeks in a row comes in. No one knows who Alvin is except Jimmy Monson, his high school coach,” Shafer remarks. “Alvin comes in, he blocks well and makes plays. Josh Parris he told me he never really watched football too much until junior year of high school. He’s the next guy in, playing after Beckett Wales gets hurt and does a great job.”

» Related: How Syracuse fans do (or don’t) change the game

The next man up.

Sophomore safety Durrell Eskridge played on offense again at wide receiver and caught a 19-yard pass in the second quarter that helped set up a touchdown drive.

The next man up.

With senior running back Prince-Tyson Gully out with a lower body injury, George Morris and Devante McFarlane, both redshirt freshmen, picked up the slack. Morris rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown and McFarlane added 34 yards to help make up for the lost production.

“We’ve got new names on the football field and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Shafer said. “This is what college football is all about. There’s not a waiver wire, you can’t pick up the phone and say let’s get so-and-so. No, this is college football. You’ve got to step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, what’s your name again? You’re in.’”
Thanks to every next man stepping up, Syracuse is in. The Orange will now wait to hear their bowl game destination and their opponent.

“All I can say is that I’m incredibly proud of the program,” Macky MacPherson said. “Syracuse University has been, between Coach (Doug) Marrone and Coach (Scott) Shafer, what we’ve put together here at Syracuse I couldn’t be more proud as a fan, a person who grew up here and as a player. It’s just a dream come true to be part of something like this and to see Syracuse excel. I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.”
There’s one more game in MacPherson’s future wearing the orange and one more opportunity for his proud grandparents to watch him.

Judy Salamone has been covering Syracuse University athletics since 1988. She is the former editor and publisher of The Big Orange/The Juice print publication and a senior consultant and contributing writer to sujuiceonline.com.

For more Syracuse coverage, Like our Facebook page and follow us @TheJuiceOnline.

Avatar photo
About Judy Salamone 30 Articles
For 18 years, Judy was Editor and Publisher of The Big Orange/The Juice print publication. Judy is currently a freelance editor and writer and has covered Syracuse University athletics since 1988. She is a graduate of Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, New York.