SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Different week, different opponent, same old story for the Syracuse offense. The Orange defense did their job forcing two turnovers, giving the offense chance after chance to seize control of the game. But just like the last two weeks, they could not get out of their own way.
Midway through the third quarter, despite several earlier miscues, the Orange had an opportunity to take the lead. Trailing 12-6, a touchdown would give the Orange their first advantage on the night and the momentum. Instead, they promptly went three and out, a microcosm of a frustrating night for the Syracuse offense. The Orange would never get closer to a Louisville squad that also struggled offensively.
"We knew going into the game we were playing one of the better defenses in the country," head coach Scott Shafer said. "Hats off to coach Petrino and his staff to really fielding a very good defense. On the flip side of it, I was very pleased with the way our kids played on the defensive side of the ball. I thought they played with great effort and physicality especially after coming off of a short week. Very proud of the job they did. They gave us a chance."
By falling 28-6, Syracuse drops to 2-3 on the season, 0-1 in ACC play.
After a Julian Whigham interception in the first quarter, Ben Lewis dropped a would be touchdown on third down. Syracuse settled for a field goal and gives up a touchdown on the next drive.
Two possessions later, with the ball inside their own one yard line, they ran a toss to Adonis Ameen-Moore from a shotgun formation. The result of the play was a safety for Louisville.
After forcing Louisville to punt on their next possession, Terrel Hunt throws an interception that leads to a Cardinals field goal. Then, at the end of the first half, Syracuse is trying to score before the clock winds down. Hunt tries to call a timeout he does not have, and wastes 8-10 seconds twice and Syracuse ends up without points.
To start the second half, the Orange again marched down the field, setting up a first and goal at the one. After a run play yielded a loss of three, Syracuse had multiple penalties which pushed the ball back to the 19. Even with that, Syracuse had Ben Lewis wide open in the end zone, but he dropped the pass. Again, Syracuse settled for a field goal.
Nothing better exemplified the Syracuse problems than after a fumble recovery in the third quarter. The first play after the turnover, Hunt threw his second interception of the game, swiftly removing any momentum the Orange may have had.
"Unfortunately we didn't do a good enough job on the other side of the ball with our execution," Shafer said. "I liked the plan, I liked the creativity. But we just came up short."
Syracuse sacked freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon three times and forced two turnovers while only yielding approximately 350-yards of total offense. It was a solid performance, but missed tackles fueled each Cardinals drive.
In a must win game, Terrel Hunt barely completed half of his pass attempts, threw two interceptions, were safetied twice and Syracuse was held to under 100-yards on the ground. Another poor offensive performance which puts their losing streak to three games.
With the top-ranked and defending national champion Florida State coming to the Carrier Dome next week, the Orange's ability to make a bowl game is very much in doubt.
There are major questions surrounding the offense and what can be done to fix it going forward. It was a dreadful performance in a crucial game for the 2014 campaign.
"I feel bad about today," Shafer said. "I hate to lose. It makes me sick to my stomach. It is what it is. We'll fight our butts off to get this thing better every week. We'll get to where we want to be. I promise you that."