Blocked extra point dooms Orange, SU falls to Pittsburgh 17-16

Jerome Smith runs for a touchdown against Pittsburgh on Saturday

The SU football team (5-6, 3-4 ACC) failed to become bowl eligible on Saturday, falling to Pittsburgh (6-5, 3-4 ACC) 17-16.

The SU defense forced a Pittsburgh 3-and-out on their first drive of the game, weathering two Tom Savage to Devin Street completions in the process. Street was questionable coming into the game, and would get injuried in the first half without returning. Those were his only two catches.

Taking over at their own 33 yard line, the SU running attack went to work, as Jerome Smith, George Morris and QB Terrel Hunt all carried the ball on the drive. It was capped off by a 36-yard Smith touchdown run, his 11th of the season. Ryan Norton's extra point was blocked, leaving the Orange with a 6-0 lead.

After once again forcing Pittsburgh to punt, the SU offense took over, they'd be forced to punt as well, but Left Tackle Sean Hickey was injured on the drive and sidelined with a lower body injury for the rest of the game, joining a long list of SU athletes injured.

Pittsbugh's next drive would take up the rest of the first quarter and evaporate some of the second, a 19 play, 51 yard drive that went all the way down to the SU 3-yard-line. But, two Cameron Lynch sacks, one for a loss of 11 yards, the other a loss of 5, pushed Pitt out of the red zone, forcing a Chris Blewitt 43-yard field goal. Pitt trailed 6-3.

With Hickey out, the SU offense struggled in the second quarter, and both teams traded possessions. The Panthers took over at their own 30-yard line with 7:44 to play in the half, and once again, Savage worked the team down inside the SU Red Zone. This time, working from the Orange 7-yard line, Savage completed a pass over the middle to Manasseh Garner for the touchdown, giving the Panthers the 10-6 lead.

The Orange worked a two minute drill to try and score before the half, getting down to the Pittsburgh 24-yard line. Defensive back Durell Eskridge came in as a wide reciever on 3rd and 10, and Terrel Hunt found him in the end zone, only to have Eskridge land out of the bounds with possession. Ryan Norton's 41-yard field goal was good, leaving the Orange trailing one point at the half 10-9.

The two teams traded punts to begin the second half. But, Terrel Hunt, who showed off his arm at the end of the first half, threw a perfect bomb to redshirt freshman Alvin Cornelius 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Cornelius' first touchdown of his career, giving SU a 16-10 lead midway through the 3rd quarter.

Savage struck again at the end of the third quarter, leading the Panthers from their own 12-yard line on a drive to the end zone. Isaac Bennett finished off the drive with a five yard touchdown run to the right side, retaking the lead at 17-16.

The Orange injuries continued to rack up, as SU safety Jeremi Wilkes and linebacker Marquis Spruill both had lower body injuries in the second half, sending them to the sidelines for the rest of the game as well.

After the Orange was forced to punt, Like Arciniega picked of a Savage pass off a tipped ball over the middle, giving the Orange prime field position. But, the Pitt defense held firm, and Ryan Norton's 41 yard field goal sailed wide right, ending the threat and keeping the score 17-16.

The Orange got the ball back with 2:36 to play in the game. The squad advanced all the way down to the Pittsburgh 36-yard line, but were forced to a 4th down. The SU field goal team came on the field, and moments before holder Charley Loeb threw a pass to an uncovered Kendall Moore, the play was blown dead after a Panthers timeout. On the next play, Terrel Hunt threw an incompletion over the middle of the field, ending the game.

Hunt finished 15/23 for 133 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart Tom Savage finished 28/41 for 218 yards, a touchdown and an interception. SU held Pitt to just 25 yards rushing on 25 carries, while SU was led by Jerome Smith, who had 16 carries for 86 yards.

The Orange will have one more try to become bowl eligible in their season finale in the Carrier Dome next Satuday when they host Boston College at 3:30 p.m.

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