SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In a one point loss, it's easy to look back and find a couple of plays that made the difference. But for a Syracuse team that seemed on the cusp of taking control of Saturday's game, there were several that ended up being huge factors in the loss.
1. Missed Extra Point
When Syracuse took their opening drive down the field in four plays to take a quick lead, the Orange had all the momentum. Then came Aaron Donald, who harassed Syracuse all game. He stepped through the interior of the Syracuse line and got a hand on Ryan Norton's extra point. That one point proved to be the margin in a close game.
2. Dropped Passes
Syracuse had several opportunities to put more points on the board on Saturday. At the end of the first half, Syracuse had the ball on the Pitt 24 looking for a score before intermission. Terrel Hunt threw two beautiful passes down the left sideline and into the end zone.
The first was dropped by DeVante McFarlane, who let the ball slip out of his fingers. He ran a wheel route and got behind the Pitt linebacker, but could not hold on. There was contact on the play, but nothing was called.
Two plays later, Durell Eskridge ran nearly the same route, and again got behind the defense. Hunt threw another perfect pass, and Eskridge appeared to come down with this one at first glance. But on the replay, it was clear that Eskridge bobbled the ball and did not have control in bounds.
In the third quarter, Hunt looked for Quinta Funderburk down the sideline as he got a step on the Pitt secondary. However, he let the ball slip right through his hands on what would have been a touchdown.
3. Missed Field Goal
Midway through the fourth quarter, Syracuse was trailing by a point when the drove deep into Pittsburgh territory. They were unable to punch it into the end zone, but did set Norton up for a 41-yard field goal. He missed wide right in what would have been a go-ahead score for the Orange.
4. Failure to Recover Fumble
Syracuse had a 6-0 lead, and the Orange defense was playing well. However, Pitt was moving the ball and had a first down at the Syracuse 25. Tom Savage hit Weatherspoon on a quick pass. He turned it up field and Durell Eskridge put a big hit on him. The hit jarred the ball loose and it squirted forward not the Carrier Dome turf.
Cam Lynch was in prime position to recover the ball, as he dove towards the ball. Unfortunately for Syracuse, the ball bounced off of him and out of bounds. Instead of the Orange gaining possession, Pitt kept the ball. The result of the drive was a field goal.
5. Fake Field Goal That Wasn't
Facing fourth and eight from the Pitt 36, Syracuse ran their field goal unit onto the field in what appeared to be an 11-for-11 player substitution. However, Kendall Moore stayed on the field as only 10 Syracuse players subbed in. The Pitt special teams unit did not notice this, and Moore was left wide open along the sideline.
The ball was snapped, Charley Loeb threw to Moore, but the whistle blew right as the play started. Pitt head coach Paul Chryst was granted a timeout. Moore was wide open and would have easily picked up the first down if not scored a touchdown.