Syracuse misses chances in loss to No. 20 Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP)
Syracuse got a great game from its defense and big numbers from its offense.
Special teams let the Orange down.
Two mistakes in the kicking game cost the Orange 14 points and Syracuse squandered a chance to knock off No. 20 Rutgers, losing 23-15 Saturday.
Syracuse (2-4, 1-1), headed to the ACC next season, won't likely remember that it had a 418 to 237 advantage in yards, or that its defense limited Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison to 64 yards rushing, snapping his six-game streak of 100-yard games.
What will stick out is a blocked field goal.
Adonis Ameen-Moore's three-yard TD rush and Ross Krautman's PAT gave Syracuse a 7-7 tie with 1:32 left before halftime. And a possible upset of Rutgers (6-0, 3-0) seemed a possibility when the Orange opened the third quarter with a drive to the Scarlet Knights' 15.
''It happened so fast,'' Krautman said. ''I won't know what happened until I see the film.''
Syracuse dropped a 19-16 double overtime game to Rutgers last year, but two years ago Krautman's 24-yard field goal with 1:06 left handed the Orange a 13-10 triumph over Rutgers on the same field. He also kicked a 48-yarder in that win. Krautman, a junior, came into the game having made 37 of 45 career field goal attempts, a .822 percentage.
''It was a shock to see that happen,'' said Syracuse linebacker Siriki Diabate, who led his team with 13 tackles. ''We were ready to go, and get back up, and keep on fighting to get the ball to the offense.''
Syracuse played so well defensively that it not only broke Jamison's 100-yard rushing streak, but it allowed the Orange to run 74 plays compared to 59 for Rutgers. The turning point, however, was the blocked field goal.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone knew that Rutgers had the ability to make a block and was particularly wary of Rutgers defensive back Ryan Logan.
''We know they're very good at rushing (the kicker),'' Marrone said. ''We actually made changes on that side during the week. I was watching No 11 (Logan) for Rutgers. Most of the time I am able to tell what went on. I don't know what gap or the height of the kick.
Merrell blocked a field goal and an extra point in Rutgers' win last year.
''I thought for the rest of the day, except for the fumbled punt by Steve Rene, we did pretty well. We put a lot of emphasis on special teams this week. But, at the end of the day, we didn't make two plays we needed to make.''
Rene's fumbled punt, forced by Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene, led to Gary Nova's 12-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft, staking the Scarlet Knights to a 23-7 lead with 14:01 left in the fourth quarter.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib completed passes to eight different receivers, including a 40-yard TD strike to Christopher Clark, followed by a conversion pass to Marcus Sales that cut the Orange deficit to 23-15 with 4:01 to go.
Nassib connected on 25 of 42 passes for 356 yards, but was picked off two times, two of four turnovers by the Orange. Sales pulled in four catches for 100 yards. All those big offensive numbers and Syracuse's stingy defense meant nothing because of Greene. The senior forced three fumbles, picked off a Nassib pass, recorded 14 tackles and one and a half sacks.
''It's really frustrating,'' Nassib said. ''I mean, you work so hard and then go out there and hurt ourselves. It's just frustrating.''