SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse's final drive of the game was stopped in Pittsburgh territory with 63 seconds left as the Orange came up short against the Panthers, 17-16, in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
SU took over possession with 2:36 remaining in the game and drove to the Pittsburgh 36-yard line thanks to 10-yard and 16-yard receptions by sophomore Ashton Broyld and senior Christopher Clark, respectively. Syracuse had a first down at the Panther 36, but was unable to move the chains anymore and turned the ball over on downs. The visitors ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Junior Jerome Smith paced the Syracuse offense with 88 yards on the ground and rushed for one touchdown. It was Smith's 11th score of the campaign, which is tied for 10th at SU in a single season. Sophomore Terrel Hunt completed 18-of-28 pass attempts for 159 yards and tossed one touchdown.
A trio of Syracuse receivers each caught at least three passes in the game led by Broyld's team-high six for 25 yards. Redshirt freshman Alvin Cornelius finished with a team-high 53 yards and caught the first two passes of his career, including a 42-yard score in the third quarter.
Sophomore Durell Eskridge recorded a game-high 12 tackles and forced one of two Pittsburgh fumbles. Junior Cameron Lynch was right behind with 11 tackles, including three for a loss of 17 yards and a personal-best two sacks. Junior Luke Arciniega intercepted the only pass of the afternoon, the first of his career.
SU won the yards battle 307-239, including a whopping 148-21 on the ground. The Orange defense pressured Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage all day, recording three sacks and five quarterback hurries.
Syracuse opened the scoring 2:53 into the game on Smith's touchdown of 36 yards to put SU up 6-0. After forcing Pittsburgh three-and-out to begin the contest, SU needed just four plays and 72 seconds to drive 67 yards. Redshirt freshman George Morris II broke off for a 22-yard rush to get the Orange down to the Pittsburgh 44-yard line. Two plays later, Smith scampered into the end zone from 36 yards.
The Panthers cut their deficit in half with a field goal 1:38 into the second quarter to make it 6-3. At first-and-goal from the three-yard line, Lynch sacked Savage for 11 yards. Following an incomplete pass and penalty, another sack by Lynch pushed the Panthers back to the 24. The visitors settled for a 42-yard field goal from Chris Blewitt that capped a 19-play, 51-yard drive that lasted 9:13.
Pittsburgh went ahead 10-6 following a 10-play, 70-yard possession with 3:06 to go in the half. Savage went 7-for-7 for 56 yards on the drive, which ended with a seven-yard touchdown reception by Manasseh Garner. The Panthers converted all three of their third downs, including the final one that went for the score.
Syracuse added a field goal from sophomore Ryan Norton with 14 seconds to go until the break to pull the Orange within 10-9. The scoring opportunity was started by senior Lewellyn Coker, who forced his second fumble of the season after a punt as SU took over in Pittsburgh territory. Syracuse was unable to gain any yards on the drive and Norton drilled a 41-yarder, the longest of his career.
On SU's second possession of the third quarter, Hunt found Cornelius 42 yards down field as he was diving into the end zone to give the Orange a 15-10 lead. Norton made the point after to put Syracuse up 16-10. During the five-play, 62-yard drive, Hunt completed both of his passes for a total of 52 yards. Senior Beckett Wales hauled in a 10-yard reception on the opening play.
As time expired in the third quarter, Pittsburgh tacked on the final points of the afternoon on Isaac Bennett's run of five yards which put the Panthers up for good at 17-16 following the extra point from Blewitt. The Panthers killed off the final 3:08 in the frame with a nine-play, 88-yard drive. Savage completed 5-of-7 passes, including his last three. Garner had three receptions for 37 yards during the possession.
Savage finished the game 28-of-41 for 218 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His main target was Tyler Boyd, who had game-highs of 10 passes for 82 yards. Garner chipped in with seven receptions for 61 yards.
Defensively, Pittsburgh was led by Anthony Gonzalez and Aaron Donald. Gonzalez posted 11 solo tackles and Donald wound up with nine tackles, including 3.5 for a loss. Donald also blocked SU's first extra point attempt.
Syracuse closes out the season with Senior Day against Boston College on Saturday, Nov. 30 inside the Carrier Dome. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on the ACC Regional Sports Networks (RSN).