Syracuse capped off a lackluster home season Saturday as they fell to former conference rival Boston College, 16-7. The Orange offense sputtered most of the game and BC running back Andre Williams had a career day, as the Orange dropped their fourth straight in the Carrier Dome.
After jumping out to a 7-3 start and securing the school’s first bowl game since 2004, the Orange had a chance to compete for a BCS bowl. Instead, Syracuse sputtered down the stretch, dropping its final two games with uninspiring performances.
“It’s definitely disappointing, we wanted to get the win for the seniors and send them out the right way,” junior running back Antwon Bailey said. “It’s definitely a disappointing loss for the whole team.”
In the first half, neither team lit up the scoreboard. However, the Eagles first drive of the game set the tone for the visitors. Behind a stout offensive line and the punishing running style of Williams, Boston College drove methodically down the field. Though the Eagles eventually settled for a field goal, the drive lasted 15 plays and ate up half of the first quarter.
Williams kept senior linebacker Derrell Smith busy in the first half as Smith recorded seven of his game-high 12 tackles before the intermission, including three tackles for loss.
“I think they did a good job of executing, they threw a couple things at us that we hadn’t seen before,” Smith said. “The strength of their team was the O-line, and their O-line did a good job of making blocks. They executed well.”
Despite doubling the Orange in first downs and nearly doubling them in time of possession in the first half, Boston College was only able to build a 6-0 lead before the break. Part of that was due to an SU defense that stiffened when it had to, and part of that was due to a timely interception by Kevyn Scott.
“What’s gone on offensively, it’s frustrating. We go ahead and execute in practice, but we haven’t had it carried over onto the football field,” SU head coach Doug Marrone said. “That’s the normal progression of how you build. ... You execute on the practice field and then it carries over onto the field. We haven’t had that transition yet with our offense.”
If Marrone is looking for some film to show the offense, he could start with the Orange’s opening drive of the second half. Syracuse embarked on a 12 play, 80 yard drive that culminated with an Antwon Bailey touchdown run from five yards out. On the drive, Nassib completed all five of his pass attempts and Bailey rushed for 33 of his team-high 72 yards after replacing Delone Carter who was injured in the first half.
After gaining only 98 yards of total offense in the first half, the Orange seemed to be on track in the second after taking the lead. However, Boston College would respond, pounding the ball with Williams. The freshman – filling in for injured star Montel Harris – carried a school record 42 times for a career-high 185 yards. Williams scored on a one-yard plunge with 4:44 remaining in the third to put the Eagles on top for good.
“He’s a pretty good player,” Smith said. “We knew that the freshman would come in, and he did a good job running the ball. Obviously he’s a Division I player, so we’ve got to respect him, and he did a good job today.”
Following a punt by the Orange, Boston College embarked on another methodical drive. The Eagles ran 16 plays to use up the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter. Though the drive eventually stalled and only resulted in a field goal, it put Syracuse in a two score hole with less than seven minutes to play.
On the ensuing possession, Marrone made one of the most questionable calls of the season. Following an incompletion on third and two, the coach elected to punt the ball back to the Eagles with 5:30 remaining and only two timeouts.
Aided by a 15-yard horse collar penalty on Anthony Perkins that gave Boston College a first down after the Orange had used their remaining timeouts and forced the Eagles into a third down and long, BC was able to run to clock down to the 2:17 mark before returning it to Syracuse.
“I had two timeouts left and I thought I could gain a lot of field position,” Marrone said. “If you go for it and miss it, then it is game over right there for sure. I was playing the percentages.”
In an all too familiar scene for the Orange – a team that failed to beat an FBS opponent at home in 2010 – the percentages didn’t work out. BC senior linebacker Mark Herzlich intercepted Ryan Nassib on SU’s final drive to seal the Eagles fifth straight win.
Despite the loss, the Orange do have one more game left. Now, they’re just waiting to find out when and where it will be.
“Speaking for all the seniors, it’s been a long tough road,” Smith said. “We gave it our all for four or five years. I don’t think anyone is disappointed, but I think we know that we could’ve executed better. We’ve got one more game to show what we can do.”
Running back Antwon Bailey runs into the end zone for SU's only score during Saturday's loss to Boston College. (Photo: Dave Trotman-Wilkins)