Saturday, October 14, 2017
Story by Jude Allume Photos by Kristin O'Grady
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For many, Friday the 13th is known as an unlucky day. For the Clemson Tigers, the day lived up to its reputation as the previously unbeaten Tigers were upset for their first loss of the season against the Syracuse Orange, 27-24.
“That senior class, three head football coaches all the things they’ve been through and to have an opportunity to have a win like that, that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said after the game.
“Nobody believes in us except for us and that’s fine because at the end of the day, I put my pads on to play for these guys next to me” junior quarterback Eric Dungey said.
Dungey paced the Orange offense with 278 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air to go along with 61 rushing yards.
Linebacker Parris Bennett led the Orange defense with a team high nine tackles including a big sack on a potential scoring drive for the Tigers, knocking them outside of the 20 yard line to the 27.
The win brings Syracuse to 4-3 (2-1 ACC), their first time with a winning record since mid-September. The loss brings the Clemson Tigers to 6-1 (4-1 ACC).
The Orange Come Out Swinging
Syracuse has recently been criticized for starting games slow and doing too little, too late in games to stand a real chance for victory, as seen in their last two close loses to LSU (35-26) and NC State (33-25). This game proved to be much different from the first drive.
“I think it was an overall team effort and I’m really, really proud of the young men” Babers said.
The Orange received the opening kickoff and drove the ball 72 yards in three minutes and 16 seconds. The drive was capped off by a screen pass from Dungey to running back Dontae Strickland for a 23 yard touchdown and the early 7-0 lead.
The Tigers responded quickly, scoring in only one minute and seven seconds. A Syracuse unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set them up with great field position, as they went 62 yards in three plays to score and tie things up.
The Orange punted on their next possession, giving the Tigers the ball at the 37 yard line and a chance to take the lead. The Tigers moved the ball at will, as Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was 5-5 passing on the drive for 46 yards. Once the Tigers reached the red zone, the Orange defense stepped up, forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal try. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the field goal attempt was missed and the score remained tied.
On its next possession, the Orange capitalized on the Tigers missed opportunity. After a 14 yard pass to Steve Ishmael, Dungey threw deep to Ervin Phillips, connecting for the 66 yard touchdown and again giving the Orange the lead at 14-7.
Orange Fumble Golden Opportunity
The teams traded punts for the next three possessions until Syracuse got the ball again with 11:59 left in the second quarter. The Orange started at the six yard line, but that didn't deter them from running their normal offense as they moved the ball quickly and with ease, taking advantage of two Tiger penalties that extended the drive. With second down and six yards to go on the Clemson 20 yard line, a false start penalty was called on the Orange, starting the downward spiral.
On the next play, Dungey was sacked for a five yard loss. That was followed by another penalty for offensive pass interference leaving the Orange at third down and 31 yards to go. The drive ended for the Orange with a fumble by Strickland. The Tiger defense scooped up the ball and returned it 63 yards for the score. A drive that was leading to a two score lead for the Orange quickly turned into a tied game at 14 all.
The Orange again took the lead with a field goal before halftime, going into the locker room up 17-14.
Clemson Sticks Around
Though Syracuse had plenty of opportunities to pull away in this game, Clemson put up a fight. Their fight became a lot harder when starting quarterback Kelly Bryant left the game at the end of the first half with a concussion, leaving redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper to lead the offense for the second half.
Immediately, the Orange applied pressure on the new quarterback in an attempt to make sure he never got comfortable in the pocket. It worked on the first drive of the half as the Tigers ended up punting. On their next drive however, the Clemson coaching staff combined great starting field position at the Orange 42 yard line with a series of short throws that moved the ball and got Cooper rolling.
Though the drive fizzled out, the Tigers were able to add a field goal to tie the game at 17. When the Orange got the ball, they used a 45 yard run from Dungey to set up a 30 yard pass to Ishmael for the score, putting the Orange up 24-17.
Again, Clemson responded. On the kickoff, the ball bounced out of bounds, setting the Tigers up at the 35 yard line to start. After two plays, on first down from the 48, Tiger running back Travis Etienne ran the ball for a gain of 52 yards and a touchdown, again tying the score, this time at 24 each.
Take Your Time
With the ball to start the quarter, the Orange changed from their usually high paced offense to a slower tempo focusing on ball control. This was accompanied with a heavy run offense to keep the clock moving. The Orange burned over five minutes off the clock on the way to picking up a field goal to put them up 27-24.
Clemson fought all game to keep the score close in hopes of eventually overtaking the lead and responded again. This time, the clock was a factor as they were running out of time. After picking up, two first downs in the first four plays of their drive, the Orange needed a big play to stop the Tiger momentum. It came in the form of a sack from Chris Slayton, leading to a loss of four yards. The drive stalled, and the Orange took over on downs at the 41 yard line with 6:10 left in the game and the Tigers with two timeouts left.
From there, the plan was to run the ball and kill the clock. The plan worked to perfection as the Orange slowly moved the ball and picked up two first downs with the clock down to 2:29, forcing Clemson to use their timeouts.
On third down and eight to go, the Orange needed to convert or possibly have to punt the ball away and give the Tigers another chance to comeback. Quarterback Eric Dungey rushed for eight yards, stopping right at the yard to go marker. After the officials reviewed the spot of the ball, the ruling on the field of a first down was upheld, essentially ending the game. After a few kneels, the game was over and the Orange pulled off the upset, an accomplishment linebacker Zaire Franklin couldn't believe.
“For some reason, I didn’t believe that the game was over when we got that first down” Franklin said. “I’m still in my mind like we’re going to have to go out and stop them from getting a field goal, whatever it is, whatever reason I didn’t believe the game was over until they were taking a knee and I was like damn that’s it.”
The 12th Man
The Carrier Dome was packed last night with over 42,000 people in attendance. The home crowd was into the game and loud all night, which the Orange believe was an advantage and a component behind their upset.
“How about the fans tonight? Are you kidding me? We have a DOME. No one else does. Neener
Parris Bennett echoed the same views of the home crowd cheering on their team. “It was loud. Third down was rocking, you could tell those guys they could hear it, they could feel it” Bennett said. “We fed off the energy. I feel like guys felt more confident. It felt like everybody was rooting for us and cheering for us and believing in us. When you get as loud as that, guys feel like they’re on top of the world”
The Numbers Tell the Story
Clemson has one of the best defenses in the nation with averages of 264.33 total yards per game, 165.5 passing yards per game, 98.83 rushing yards per game and 11.33 points per game. The Syracuse offense gave them their biggest challenge of the year as they blew all of these numbers out of the water with 440 total yard, 278 pass yards, 162 rushing yards and putting up more than double the average points the Tiger defense allows with 27.
The Clemson offense came into the game averaging 233.67 yards passing per game, 237.33 yards rushing per game, 471 total yards per game and 35 point per game. The Syracuse defense held them under all of these averages with 204 yards passing, 113 yards rushing and allowing only 24 points, seven of which came as a result of the Tiger defense scoring.
Conversely, prior to the game, the Syracuse defense allowed their opponents averages of 357 total yards per game, 242 passing yards per game and 131 rushing yards per game, all numbers they held the Tigers under.
The Orange never trailed the Tigers in the game.
Syracuse travel to Miami next week to face the #11 ranked Hurricanes on Saturday at 3:30 PM.
The Tigers limp back home with some concerns at quarterback as they look to rebound from the loss, hosting the Georgia State Yellow Jackets on Saturday.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Story by Corey Crisan, photos by India Timpton
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Syracuse Orange (3-3) held off late efforts from the Pitt Panthers (2-4) and moved to the .500 mark on the season. The Orange were led by tight end Ravian Pierce’s career day. He finished with nine catches for 99 yards, both career-highs. It was a back-and-forth game at the Carrier Dome Saturday, and the Orange won a close one over the Panthers, 27-24.
Last season, the Pitt Panthers and the Syracuse Orange battled to the finish in a wild contest to end the regular season. Pitt won 76-61 in a game that featured 621 combined rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 1,312 total yards. In the fifth week of the 2017 season, the ACC rivals wrote a different script.
“It was good to finally get that monkey off our back,” Syracuse Head Coach Dino Babers said after the game. “It was our third close game all the way in the second half… To see the team rally together, and not only have all three units play well in the last 5 minutes.”
Babers continued, saying “It was exciting. The kids are excited, and we’re happy that we’re able to do our part and make sure everybody had a happy homecoming.”
Fast Start for the Orange
What looked to be a promising start for the Orange resulted in just three points. On the first drive, quarterback Eric Dungey found his top target - Steve Ishmael – for a 34-yard gain that put Syracuse into Pitt territory. The Orange couldn’t connect on deep passes to the endzone after two free plays due to offsides on Pitt’s defense. Syracuse settled for a field goal on its first drive and led 3-0 with 11:30 to play in the first.
Syracuse then forced a three-and-out as Pitt gained only six yards.
The quarter featured six three-and-outs and six combined punts.
Syracuse lead 3-0 after the first quarter.
Pitt scored on the first play of the second quarter a 35-yard touchdown by Jordan Whitehead (who is listed as a defensive back on the team’s roster) and an extra point capped off a five-play, 54 yard drive that took 2:33 off the clock.
Syracuse responded by gaining a first down on their next drive, but the Orange had to punt again.
Pitt then added three more points on a 49-yard field goal by Alex Kessman with 7:26 to play until the half.
Pitt lead 10-3 at this point.
Syracuse showed life at the end of the first half. A 21-yard touchdown from Dungey to Devin C. Butler tied this one up at 10-10 with 0:34 to play in the half. This play capped off a nine-play, 93-yard drive that took 2:17 to play.
Syracuse and Pitt were tied, 10-10, at halftime.
Game of Halves
On their first drive to start the second half, the Panthers padded their lead to 13-10 with a 42-yard field goal by Alex Kessman. The Orange finally broke through the stout Pitt defense as Dungey scored on a 10-yard keeper. Syracuse lead 17-13 after a 13-play, 75-yard drive.
Cole Murphy then tacked on a 38-yard field goal with 2:12 to play in the third. Syracuse lead by a touchdown, 20-13. That field goal capped off a 10-play, 52-yard drive.
Syracuse lead 20-13 after three quarters.
A Strong Finish
Kessman continued to boot the Panthers as he nailed a 56-yard field goal to cut the Orange lead to 20-16.
Syracuse wide receiver Steve Ishmael entered Saturday’s game as the nation’s leader in catches (51) and he was second in yards (632). With 11:07 to play in regulation, Dungey connected with Ishmael for a 35-yard score to extend the Orange lead to 27-16. Ishmael finished the day with five receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers found a way to make it interesting in the middle of the fourth quarter. Running back Qadree Ollison ran one in from 19 yards to cut the Orange lead to 27-22. Pitt converted a two-point conversion to make it a 27-24 Orange lead with 7:15 to play.
The Panthers had a chance to win it with less than a minute to play. Syracuse’s drive stalled on the Pitt 5-yard line. Syracuse went for it on 4th and 1, but Dungey’s shovel pass to Ravian Pierce fell incomplete. The Panthers gained only 10 yards on their last-minute and final drive, and Syracuse escaped with a 27-24 victory.
The game took 3:33 to play, and 33,290 were counted inside the Carrier Dome to witness the Orange victory.
For Syracuse, Dungey went 33-49 in the air with 365 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also recorded a rushing touchdown.
Wide receiver Ravian Pierce had a career game. He registered nine catches for 99 yards for the Orange. Dontae Strickland was Syracuse’s leading rusher on Saturday. He carried the ball 25 times for 81 yards.
“They’re our rival,” Babers added. “If we’re going to play them every single year, we need to play them like a rival.”
The Syracuse Orange will turn around in a short week to welcome a national powerhouse into the Carrier Dome. The second-ranked Clemson Tigers will come to Syracuse for a nationally-televised contest that kicks off at 7:00pm ET Friday. The game can be viewed on ESPN.