|Syracuse safety Antwan Cordy #8, surveys the field |
during the Orange's 45-21 loss against FSU on Saturday
Photo from SeminoleTV
Tallahassee FL. - Tell me if you've heard this one before. It all began on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Florida...
Heading into Saturday, the matchup between the Syracuse Orange (3-5, 1-3 ACC) and the No. 17 Florida State Seminoles (7-1, 5-1 ACC) seemed like yet another lopsided college football blowout in the making. It did end up that way, with FSU beating SU, 45-21.
"I would like to make sure there are no excuses from our end, owning it, " Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. "(We) got beat by a better football team and they out-physicaled us."
And yet there were reasons for Syracuse optimism going in.
Early hope for fans of the Orange came just after 10 A.M. on Saturday, when FSU announced on Twitter that starting quarterback Everett Golson would not be available to play due to lingering effects from a concussion -- an injury Syracuse knows far too much about.
The Seminoles' star running back Dalvin Cook was already out with an injury.
Both teams came into the day after suffering last-second heartbreaking losses the week before. For Syracuse, it was a disappointing home defeat to No. 23 Pittsburgh, which saw the Panthers drive 87-yards and eat up the last nine-plus minutes of the 4th quarter to kick a game-winning field goal.
The Seminoles came into Saturday having lost their first game of the season last week on a blocked 56-yard field goal attempt which Georgia Tech returned 78-yards for a game-winning touchdown.
It was Parents' Weekend at Florida State on Saturday but you wouldn't have known it by the looks of the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium. The normal capacity stands of just over 82,000 looked to be half to three-quarters filled throughout the course of the game.
But the FSU fans who did make it out were treated to an offensive explosion from backup quarterback Sean Maguire, a redshirt junior, who threw for more first-half yards than any FSU player since Chris Weinke in 2000.
Maguire finished the day completing 23-35 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns.
Good Start for Syracuse
The Orange struck first on its second drive of the game. A screen pass from quarterback Eric Dungey to freshman halfback Dontae Strickland went 62 yards to put the ball on the Seminoles' 4-yard line. Dungey took it into the end zone himself two plays later and kicker Cole Murphy added the extra point to give Syracuse a 7-0 advantage early in the first quarter.
FSU answered on its following possession when Maguire connected for his first score of the day on a 75-yard bomb to wideout Travis Rudolph. Rudolph looked like a man among boys on the play, as he split two SU defenders on the catch, and then stiff-armed another near the goal line to score and tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Rudolph finished the game leading all receivers for both teams with 191 yards on five catches for three touchdowns.
FSU is Still FSU
After Syracuse's following drive sputtered, FSU's new QB-WR tandem continued asserting their dominance on the Orange secondary when Maguire completed a 45-yard TD pass to Rudolph to finish off an 83-yard drive putting FSU ahead 14-7.
The Seminoles never looked back.
Early in the second quarter, an FSU offensive drive concluded when five-star freshman running back Jacques Patrick (in for Cook) fought his way into the end zone from the two-yard line. Kicker Roberto Aguayo made the extra point to give FSU a two-score lead at 21-7.
The normally sure-footed Aguayo then missed a 41-yard field goal on the 'Noles' next possession giving Syracuse good field position and a chance to get back into the game.
Dungey and company failed to capitalize on the ensuing drive, but thanks to the Orange defense, got the chance for one last drive before the half.
It was Dungey's feet, not his arm that ushered in Syracuse's second score of the day. The QB rushed for 34-yards on SU's next drive and scored on a one-yard run to pull within one score of FSU, at 21-14, with 56 seconds left in the half.
Point of Contention
Just before Dungey's score, the Orange called for a timeout near the goal line allowing FSU not to have to use any of its remaining three timeouts in the half.
give them another second to get a little energy before we punch it in." They did.
But with just under a minute to play in the half, SU kicker Ryan Norton's squibbed the ensuing kickoff and the FSU offense came back on the field on its own 41-yard line.
"It was a bad kick," Shafer said. "Simple as that. He just mis-hit it. Just mis-hit it."
The Seminoles marched right down the field in seven plays and Patrick scored from the one-yard line to put the Seminoles up 28-14 at the half.
No Tricks Needed for FSU
Syracuse received the ball to start the second half but a Dungey fumble gave the ball back to FSU and Maguire hit Rudolph yet again on a 19-yard TD, completing a three play, 23-yard scoring drive and giving the Seminoles a commanding 35-14 lead with 7:03 to play in the third quarter.
Tim Lester's offense could not muster a point in the second half on Saturday. Dungey completed 11-24 passes for 120 yards in the loss. It was Dungey's lowest passer rating of the season by almost 45 points as well as his lowest completion percentage.
FSU added another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Patrick raced in from 28-yards out to cap off a five touchdown day for the Seminoles.
Patrick ended the day with 24 carries for 167 yards and three scores.
A virtually inept Syracuse offense turned the ball over on downs on the following drive and FSU mounted a 55-yard drive to get into field goal range, where Aguayo hit a 35-yard field goal extending the 'Nole's lead to 45-14 with a little more than six minutes to play in the game.
Syracuse's only highlight of second half came on special teams with 1:20 left to play in regulation. SU's Brisly Estime returned FSU punter Cason Beatty's punt 59-yards for a score. It was Estime's second punt return for a touchdown of the season and made the final score 45-21 FSU.
Syracuse is on the road yet again next week as it travels to Louisville.
After a nice bounce back game for the Seminoles, they'll take on undefeated and No. 3 ranked Clemson in South Carolina next week.