New HD screens. New ribbon boards with graphics. New video introduction. But, some old habits still have not gone away.
During Fall camp, the Orange receiving core struggled to hold onto the attempts sent their way. Today, that continued. None more important than the two-point conversion attempt with 6:42 remaining in the game that would have brought Syracuse even with Northwestern at 35 apiece. Instead, Syracuse had to rely on the defense to make a stop.
Early in the game, the Orange defense provided some pressure to Wildcats’ quarterback Kain Colter. Linebacker Cameron Lynch got to Colter for his first sack, and the team’s first sack, of the season. Newcomer, defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster, worked hard to disrupt Northwestern’s offense.
However, as the game led on, Syracuse’s defense looked like that of last season, struggling to stop or even contain Colter who got comfortable running the ball. Colter ended the game with two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground before being replaced by backup Trevor Siemian.
The Orange ran the ball well, with the most credit for moving the chains going to running back Prince-Tyson Gulley, who extended Syracuse to a six-point lead with 2:40 remaining after a touchdown reception from newbie wide receiver Chris Clark.
Clark had been targeted numerous times, but had not been in good rhythm with quarterback Ryan Nassib. Well, the beat was on deep in the fourth quarter when Clark got spacing from man-on coverage to reel in the score that tipped the scale back to the Orange.
It was up to the defense from there. Syracuse started with a penalty but came back on the next play for a sack, courtesy of defensive tackle Deon Goggins. After a first down, the defense stopped Northwestern wide receiver Tony Jones after three yards, but gave wide receiver Demetrius Fields a wide open field for a completion.
Blown coverage continued, as Syracuse was left chasing. That statement continued for the Orange, as linebacker Dyshawn Davis was left chasing Fields, who came down with the ball in bounds for a touchdown. With an extra point tacked on, Syracuse was down by a mere point with 44 seconds to go, 42-41.
A pass by Nassib and run after by Gulley for seven yards, then poor blocking left Syracuse at their own 27 with 26 seconds to go. Offensive blocking struggles continued, with Nassib making the same forced pass to the sideline and out of bounds.
On fourth down and three, Nassib found Gulley short who ran over the first down marker and out of bounds to the Syracuse 33.
Nassib did not target any receiver on a deep route until the second-to-final play for the Orange.
With the last play needing everything the offense had, Nassib went short and the ball never touched a receiver’s hands. Despite a school record-setting 44 for 65 completion performance that went for 470 yards and four scores, the home team fell short.
Northwestern 42, Syracuse 41.
Cusenation.com will have much more post-game coverage throughout the day.
CuseNation.com's John Garcia Jr. contributed to this story