Pitt sacks Syracuse 21-10 for second straight loss

Pitt sacks SU 21-10

Orange offense hindered again Saturday as the O-line has allowed 14 sacks in the first two games.
Published: September 19, 2020 | Updated: September 27th, 2020 at 11:25 am
Sep 19, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) passes the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Heinz Field.
SU quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) passes the ball against the Pitt Panthers during the third quarter Saturday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Syracuse football dropped its game against Pitt this afternoon, starting the season off at 0-2 for the first time since 2013.

The Orange’s offensive woes continued for the second straight week, while the defense kept them in the game once again. This game had some experiencing deja vu as Syracuse held the lead at multiple points through the game and kept the competition close in the first half.

Syracuse went into halftime trailing the Panthers 14-10. But the offense failed to capitalize on any opportunities in the second half, and SU wascompletely shut down by Pitt’s defense to lose 21-10.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
SU wide receiver Nykeim Johnson (4) is tackled Saturday by Panthers linebackers John Petrishen and Phil Campbell III (24).

The offense attempted to take a step forward from last week but Saturday’s game was full of setbacks. The Orange failed to find a rhythm, leading to many failed third down conversions. Syracuse was 2-of-14 on third downs.

Quarterback Tommy DeVito felt the pressure most. After last week’s contest against North Carolina in which the redshirt junior took seven sacks, Syracuse’s offensive line again allowed their quarterback to be taken down seven times by Pitt. DeVito was shaken up by one of the sacks, and fifth-year senior and backup quarterback Rex Culpepper was forced to take over.

Culpepper connected with Taj Harris for the only Orange touchdown of the day, lobbing a 69-yard pass on one of his first snaps.

Even then, DeVito and Culpepper couldn’t quarterback their team to victory. DeVito went 9 for 15 with 32 yards passing and one interception, while Culpepper was 4 for 9 with 88 yards passing and 171 total yards.

With both quarterbacks splitting minutes this week, there could be a different starter for next week’s game against Georgia Tech. Head coach Dino Babers says he needs to watch the tape before a decision can be made.

“When it comes to any of our family members, we’re going to make the best decision for our family,” Babers said.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Syracuse at Pitt
SU linebacker Mikel Jones (13) recovers a fumble during Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.

Defensively, the Orange did all they could to hold the Panthers off. As a unit, the defense held the Panthers to only 342 yards, an improvement from the previous week against UNC

Mikel Jones led the way defensively forcing two turnovers bringing his total to three on the season.

“Control what we can control,” Jones remarked after Saturday’s game about how it feels when the defense performs and the offense doesn’t.

The defense also accounted for three sacks and five quarterback hurries against one of the ACC’s top offensive lines. Also, Syracuse held Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett to six third down conversions.

Syracuse’s defense may have appeared tired in the second half, but that unit was continuously on the field for most of the game. Despite their effort, the defense did give up 342 total yards of offense and 21 points. Still, Babers was impressed by his defense’s performance.

“Defensively we have guys out there making plays,” Babers said. “Our defense has just been playing outstanding. It might be some of the best defensive football I’ve seen here.”

Despite the poor start to the season, there still could be hope for Syracuse’s season. The last time the Orange started 0-2 was in 2013, and that season Syracuse went on to win a bowl game.

Hungry for the first win, Syracuse will have its next chance at noon Saturday when the team breaks in the newly renovated Carrier Dome against Georgia Tech.

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is a contributor for The NewsHouse and broadcast and digital journalism graduate student.