Pitt defeats Syracuse as mounting injuries raise concerns

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Oct 29, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers watches a play against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

#20 Syracuse lost their third straight game on Saturday, dropping a 19-9 contest at Pittsburgh. Missing starting quarterback Garrett Shrader, the Orange (6-3, 3-2 ACC) struggled to consistently move the ball on offense while had difficulties stopping the balanced offensive attack of the Panthers (5-4, 2-2).

While Shrader missed the game for SU, Israel Abanikanda, who was first in the nation in rushing touchdowns and third in rushing yards coming into the day, could not go for Pitt. Despite the low score, their replacements had a lot to say in the outcome, as Syracuse’s Carlos Del Rio-Wilson completed just 8-of-23 passes for 120 yards while suffering six sacks. Meanwhile, Rodney Hammond, Jr. racked up 124 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries for the Panthers.

The Orange mustered 145 yards of offense in the game, going just 3-of-14 on third down conversions. While Pitt’s 339-yard output was not overwhelming, they were able to keep the chains moving by converting 7-of-16 third downs and amassing 18 first downs.

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The SU defense stopped the first Pitt threat when Ja’Had Carter made an interception in the end zone and their offensive mates strung together their best drive of the day. The Panthers helped out with three penalties for 28 yards and a pair of first downs, getting Syracuse close enough to open the scoring on the first of three Andre Szmyt field goals with 26 seconds to go in the first quarter.

Pitt responded with a touchdown drive, but Szmyt erased most of the Panther lead on a 48-yard field goal with 3:44 before halftime. Pitt responded with a three of their own for a 10-6 lead at halftime, then put some distance between the two teams with a touchdown drive late in the third quarter for a 17-6 lead.

Szmyt had a chance to make it a one-possession game early in the fourth, but left a 46-yard field goal try short. The senior made up for it two drives later, connecting from 49 yards away to make it a 17-9 game with just under five minutes to play.

The Panthers secured a pair of first downs on their next possession before being forced to punt the ball away, downing the kick at the Orange one-yard-line. Del Rio-Wilson was sacked through the back of the end zone on SU’s first play for a safety, stretching the hosts’ lead to 19-9. Szmyt’s onside kick scooted out of bounds, enabling Pitt to down out the clock.

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About Jim Stechschulte 856 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. He currently resides in Syracuse.