Orange hopes of clinching bowl berth fall to wayside against Louisville
Orange hopes of clinching bowl berth end vs. Louisville
It looked like the Orange would catch an early break after Louisville’s Javian Hawkins coughed up the ball deep in Syracuse territory. After a review, it was reversed and the Cardinals punched it into the end zone capping a 10 play, 77-yard drive.
Right from there it didn’t look good. In each of the first 10 games for the Orange this year, the first team to score has won.
In Syracuse’s first drive, they put together a decent run towards the end zone. A few Moe Neal first down carries set them up in Louisville territory before being forced to settle for three points from Andre Szmyt.
And then, Syracuse would hurt themselves.
After the defense forced a three-and-out, a muffed punt gave the ball back to the Cardinals. Sean Riley decided to return it with a Cardinal in his face and the ball took a bounce into the arms of Louisville.
They would need only one play to score. A 29-yard touchdown on a wide-open receiver opened the score to 14-3.
Syracuse would not be able to respond as they went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, ending with a rough 27-yard punt by Sterling Hofrichter that set Louisville up at their own 40. It then took the Cardinals seven plays to reach the end zone again off of a quarterback keeper by Micale Cunningham.
Syracuse then got some hope. They let the first quarter clock run out after a fumbled snap which set up a fourth-down two plays later. After getting the fourth-down conversion, the Orange would stall but get a call in their favor.
Tommy DeVito was forced to throw it away to the sideline on third down, but got hit late and gave the Orange a first and goal at the Cardinals 10.
After a holding call, DeVito found Aaron Hackett wide open on a pop pass over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown.
On Syracuse’s next drive, they had their work cut out for them. After a Louisville three-and-out, their punt would land inside the Syracuse one-yard line. Fortunate enough, they were able to get out of that dangerous territory and DeVito would later find Trishton Jackson on a 48-yard pass. On the next play, DeVito had Taj Harris down the sideline but took him out of bounds.
A sack later, and the Orange would say goodbye to another potential scoring drive.
Then the Orange found themselves on the wrong end of a record-setting play. It would be a 90-yard pass touchdown from Cunningham to Tutu Atwell.
That marked the fourth-longest pass in program history and would be the play that gave Louisville their first 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season since 1999.
The Orange had one more chance to score before the half, but it once again blew up after a delay of game and a sack that forced another punt from Hofrichter.
The Orange came out with some energy in the second half, driving down the field only to settle for three points. It once again became a two-score game.
The ensuing kickoff return brought the ball all the way to the Syracuse 28-yard line. Sterling Hofrichter came up hurt on the play as well. Hofrichter would get back on his feet and walk to the sideline.
But one play later, more bad news. A 28-yard touchdown would put the Cardinals back up 35-13 early in the third.
The Orange then took only 30 seconds to respond with a 45-yard carry by Moe Neal into the end zone to make it 35-20.
From there, it was a handout of scores as both defenses practically shut down.
Three touchdowns would be scored in less than three minutes. The Cardinals would have its sixth different player reach the end zone, only to have Syracuse answer again on a Jerveon Howard touchdown carry.
The outlying factor in this melee of scoring was the converted and then reversed onside kick recovery by the Orange.
The Orange recovered it, yet the officials reviewed it and forced Syracuse to re-kick due to an “illegal block” penalty. It is unclear if the penalty was added after the review, which would seem to contradict all replay rules. Either way, the Orange’s shot at an enormous momentum swing was halted.
And the Cardinals would make sure of it.
Four plays later and they would find the end zone on their seventh player reaching the end zone. This time it would be Javian Hawkins with a carry where he shook several Syracuse tackles en route to the score.
Yet, the Orange would still not go away. They would make another scoring drive, capped off by a pass from DeVito to Jackson. Although the offense showed up like they were supposed to against a Louisville defense that came into the game giving up the most points per game in the ACC, the defense was the concern.
That was until Andre Cisco came up with the biggest play to that point, diving to intercept Micale Cunningham and giving the Orange the ball in scoring position.
After a third down incompletion, Tommy DeVito would sit out the next play and Welch would misfire on fourth down, turning the ball back to the daunting Louisville offense with just over 12 minutes to play.
The Orange defense would step up again and force a punt. Clayton Welch came back out at quarterback again and he would throw a screen pass to Jawhar Jordan. And then he did the rest.
Jordan broke a couple of tackles and broke free up the sideline for 81 yards. He stepped out at the 3-yard line. A holding call and a false start would set them back to force a long fourth and goal.
And that fourth and goal became longer with another false start. There, Welch would find Harris well short of the end zone, turning it over on downs for the second straight possession.
And that was the last chance the Orange would have to save their season.
The Cardinals ran the clock down and capped it off with one more big run, leading to another game-ending touchdown.
And the season for Syracuse would come to a crashing halt in an offensive marathon. The game was easy to decipher. A lot of speed and talent, not a lot of defense to stop it.