Pitt loses at Syracuse

Chris Peak, Publisher
Panther-lair

SYRACUSE - Pitt and Syracuse meet today at the Carrier Dome in a matchup of 2-3 teams.

Here are the pregame notes, live from the Dome.

FIRST QUARTER

- Syracuse won the toss and elected to receive. After the kickoff, Pitt opened with a unique defensive alignment: a nickel package with three cornerbacks and two safeties (and only two linebackers). Therran Coleman was the extra corner in that package, making his first career start.

The Orange started fast, as Eric Dungey hit a big gain on his second throw and caused Pitt's defense to jump offsides twice on the drive. Avonte Maddox and the defense stepped up, though, turning the Orange away inside the 10 to force a field goal.

SYRACUSE 3, PITT 0 - 11:30, 1st quarter

- A penalty started Pitt's first drive on the wrong foot, as Mike Herndon was called for a hold on first down, setting up first-and-20 - a hole the offense couldn't dig out of, and the Panthers had to punt.

- Pitt's defense settled down on Syracuse's second possession, as a big sack from Seun Idowu on second down led to a third-and-14 and, eventually, a punt.

- But the Panthers couldn't do anything with the defense's three-and-out, though. Max Browne and Matt Flanagan picked up eight yards on first down, but a deep shot to Jester Weah on second down was broken up on a nice defensive play, and a third-down scramble drill pass to Aaron Mathews was also broken up.

- The defense came up big again on the next drive, as Dungey threw three incomplete passes to go three-and-out once more. But again, the Panthers couldn't get anything going offensively, as a trio of running plays led to another punt.

- The theme continued on Syracuse's next drive, as the Orange seemed to pick up a first down before an illegal block canceled Dungey's third-down scramble. The eventual pass on third-and-long didn't gain the lead stick, and Syracuse punted again.

- Pitt finally got things going a little on the next drive, picking up a first down on a Syracuse penalty on fourth-and-1 and then giving Jordan Whitehead the ball on a sweep out of the backfield - a play that the junior safety took 35 yards down the sideline to the end zone.

PITT 7, SYRACUSE 3 - 14:53, 2nd quarter

- Pitt's defense picked up where it left off, allowing a 16-yard pass from Dungey to Dontae Strickland on first down but stepping up with a big sack on third-and-9 to force the Orange's fourth punt in a row.

- Neither offense has been able to get much going today, as Pitt and Syracuse traded three-and-outs again. Through 11 drives, the Panthers and Orange have punted nine times.

- Pitt's offense got a little rhythm after the latest Syracuse punt, as Max Browne found Rafael Araujo-Lopes for two passes and 32 yards and Jester Weah for two passes and 22 yards. But on second-and-1 from the Syracuse 28, Araujo-Lopes took a jet sweep and lost three yards. Browne was sacked on the ensuing third down, and the Panthers had to settle for a 49-yard field goal from Alex Kessman, which was good.

PITT 10, SYRACUSE 3 - 7:26, 2nd quarter

- Pitt's defense kept up its strong play after the field goal, allowing Syracuse to get two first downs before shutting the Orange down in the Panthers' territory. But Pitt couldn't do anything with the punt that followed, as the Panthers hit one big pass play from Browne to Araujo-Lopes before punting from the Orange 46.

- On Syracuse's next drive, the Orange finally found some offensive momentum. They started fast, driving close to midfield with some quick-hitter passes, and then an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Dewayne Hendrix moved the ball into Pitt territory. From second-and-12 at the 32. Dungey threw to Devin C. Butler in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown.

PITT 10, SYRACUSE 10 - :34, 2nd quarter

- Pitt ran just one play after the kickoff - a nine-yard gain by Whitehead - before letting time run out on the second quarter.

Here are the stats from the first half:

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SECOND HALF

- Pitt came out firing to start the third quarter, hitting passes to Weah, Araujo-Lopes and Maurice Ffrench to get close to the red zone. But a sweep on first down from the Syracuse 29 gained one yard, a Whitehead run on second down gained four and a Browne pass into the end zone on third down was knocked down. Kessman got points from the drive, though, with a 42-yard field goal that was good.

PITT 13, SYRACUSE 10 - 11:32, 3rd quarter

- Penalties bit Pitt again on Syracuse's next drive. The Panthers had the Orange stopped on third-and-10 from the Pitt 46 when a Dungey pass fell incomplete, but Chase Pine was flagged for hitting Dungey late, giving Syracuse the ball at the Pitt 31. Five plays later, Dungey ran 10 yards into the end zone to give the Orange the lead.

SYRACUSE 17, PITT 13 - 6:59, 3rd quarter

- Pitt's offense took a blow on the drive after Syracuse's touchdown. Following a first-down run that lost two yards, Browne dropped back to pass on second-and-12 but was sacked. The hit caused an injury to Browne's throwing arm, and he left the game. Ben DiNucci replaced Browne and scrambled for 11 yards on third down, but it wasn't enough for a first down and Ryan Winslow punted again.

- Syracuse found points on its second drive of the third quarter, getting the run game going and hitting more quick passes to set up a 38-yard field goal.

SYRACUSE 20, PITT 13 - 2:12, 3rd quarter

- DiNucci came out with the offense for the next Pitt possession. A defensive substitution penalty covered up a bad snap by center Connor Dintino, and DiNucci scrambled to hit Darrin Hall for an 11-yard gain. But the drive stalled at the Syracuse 38.

Pat Narduzzi showed some guts, though, and some faith in Kessman, sending the redshirt freshman kicker out to attempt a 56-yard kick. The kick hit the cross bar and bounced through, good for the longest field goal in Carrier Dome history.

SYRACUSE 20, PITT 16 - 14:55, 4th quarter

- Pitt's defense started wearing down on the next drive, letting Syracuse convert one third down and one fourth down before Dungey threw a 35-yard pass to Steve Ishmael over Phillipie Motley for a touchdown.

SYRACUSE 27, PITT 16 - 11:07, 4th quarter

- Pitt finally answered Syracuse on the next possession, and Whitehead was a big part of it. The junior safety had runs of 21, nine and four around a 22-yard pass from DiNucci to Araujo-Lopes to set up first-and-10 at the Syracuse 19. From there, Qadree Ollison took a handoff, found a cut-back lane and ran all the way to the end zone.

For the two-point conversion, Pitt went back to Whitehead, and on the same sweep play he ran all day, the Central Valley alum found the end zone again.

SYRACUSE 27, PITT 24 - 7:15, 4th quarter

- Trailing by three points, Pitt's defense needed a stop, but the Panthers couldn't get it, allowing Syracuse to run the clock all the way down to 54 seconds on the clock. The Orange converted two third downs and a fourth down on the drive before turning the ball over on downs at the Pitt 5.

- For Pitt's final last-ditch effort at a game-saving touchdown, the Panthers started at their own 5 with DiNucci, who managed to get one first down out to the 23 before a sack knocked his helmet off again. That brought in freshman Kenny Pickett, whose redshirt was burned for one play: a 13-yard completion to Araujo-Lopes as time ran out.

SYRACUSE 27, PITT 24 - Final

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