The Syracuse University football program suffered a heart-breaking Big East Conference loss Saturday to rival Rutgers University, 19-16, at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (3-2) blew a 10-point, fourth quarter lead and lost the game in double overtime after Scarlet Knights' senior kicker San San Te nailed a 47-yard field goal and SU senior tailback Antwon Bailey fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Rutgers (3-1), on the game's final possession.
The Syracuse football schedule features the Orange playing on the road next Saturday at Tulane University (8 p.m.). However, before SU fans move onto Week 6 lets give some facts, tidbits, reactions and opinions on the Orange's loss to Rutgers.
- Coming into the contest, there was a lot of talk about Syracuse stopping Rutgers' top wide receiver junior Mohamed Sanu. However, early on it was the RU fullback Joe Martinek who had three catches for 41 yards. Scarlet Knights junior Mark Harrison was the first RU wide receiver to catch a pass and it came on a 3-and-10, which was converted about midway through the first quarter. Sanu, who finished the game with a season-low seven catches for 65 yards, caught his first pass with about two minutes to go in the first. Martinek finished with five catches for 46 yards. -- "I was just trying to stay calm with a calm mind," said Sanu, "play with poise and just do what I was coached to do."
- With 7:19 to play in the first half, Rutgers had 139 total yards compared to Syracuse's 42. The Orange ended the first half with just two first downs and 88 totals yards, but still, somehow, led 7-3. Syracuse compiled 15 by game's end. -- "They did a great job with their game plan against us," said Syracuse senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. "They did a good job sending guys. They have a fast defense and they did a good job getting after us."
- At halftime, both teams combined to rush for 1.89 yards per carry (29 carries for 55 yards). By the end of the game, Syracuse finished with an average carry of 3.9, while Rutgers was dreadful 0.1.
- After three quarters, both teams had combined for seven turnovers. Out of those seven turnovers, the only points to be scored was on Ri'Shard Anderson's 70-yard TD that came on the hit by freshman linebacker Dyshawn Davis, who leveled RU's redshirt freshman running back Jawan Jamison, who coughed up the ball on the game's third play. By the end of the game, there were a total of nine turnovers and still Anderson's TD was the only score off them.
- SU sophomore kicker Ross Krautman finished the contest 1-of-3 on field goal attempts, including a missed extra point. Meanwhile, RU senior kicker San San Te was no better going 4-of-7, however, he did make the game-winner from 47 yards. Either way the kickers were terrible on Saturday.
- Despite getting free tickets to Saturday's contest, with just two minutes before kick off, the Rutgers "student section" (located in the corner of end zone underneath the scoreboard) was about the same as the Syracuse student section (located on the opposite side of the field). By the time the first quarter was ending, the SU student section was full. The announced attendance to Saturday's game was 42,152.
- The "ohhhhhh" and then, "ahhhhhh", and then, "blahhhhhhh!" by the crowd, when Davis smoked RU's Jamison, who fumbled the ball, which was picked up Anderson, who ran 70 yards for the first half's only touchdown was fun. -- "During practice," said Davis after the game, "we became familiar with the right guard pulling to the back side. Coach Conley and Coach Shafer did a good job coaching me so I could take a good angle. As soon as the guard pulled, I hit the hole and I knew I was clean. I knew I had to make a big play."
- The first half of Saturday's game was torture to watch. Not because there was very little offense on both sides of the ball, but it was the slowest moving half of football I've probably ever witnessed. There were multiple replays, players on the field because of injury which led to a half that lasted just under two hours (kickoff was around noon, while the half ended just before two o'clock). By the end of fourth quarter the game was almost four hours long.
- Senior running back Antwon Bailey's ball control issues are, now, an issue. It's easy to try and sweep this type of thing under the rug, especially when Bailey is SU's only feature back and is running well -- Saturday he compiled his third 100-yard performance of the season -- but, to lose the ball in that situation is unacceptable. -- "I thought I was down," said Bailey about his overtime fumble, "but at the end of the day, I need to hang onto the ball. That's all on me."
- Davis' hit on Jamison, who fumbled because of the hit, was the biggest hit I've seen in football this year. That includes the NFL and high school. Boy was that a shot. (P.S., Davis had the game of his life with 3.5 solo tackles and two sacks. If Davis can come a long with Cameron Lynch, this defensive unit is going to be very strong next season.) -- "I was proud of them," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, who later admitted that he was concerned about the D before the game."I thought, defensively, they were able to get to the quarterback. They did some nice things out there."
- Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who finished 14-of-31 for 164 yards and three interceptions (all in the fourth quarter), played his worst game of the 2011 season. Nassib had a hard time with Rutgers all out blitzes and couldn't get into a rhythm. -- "I was very disappointing," said Nassib about his play down the stretch. "Any loss is disappointing. We can't win a game when I throw three interceptions."
- It's really hard to put SU's loss to Rutgers into words. There was so much that happened or could have happened in the game, which would have led to a Syracuse victory (or rout) but it didn't. In the end, Rutgers hung tough and made the plays to win. -- "We lost a football game, and they're a good football team," said Marrone. "I told our kids that they played hard, they didn't execute well. We have to hold our head up even though we're upset and disappointed in ourselves. When you lose a football game, you have to come back and practice extremely hard and get ready to get back on the right path after we made the corrections."