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First half struggles plague Syracuse Football in close loss at No. 8 Miami

Eric Dungey reacts to a failed fourth down conversion in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's 27-19 loss at No. 8 Miami. (PHOTO: ESPN)

Syracuse Football was riding a monumental wave of momentum heading into Saturday's road matchup at No. 8 Miami.

After taking down then-No. 2 Clemson from the Carrier Dome, many were led to believe the Orange suddenly had things all figured out.

The Orange was on the fast track to regaining its national identity, once again.

However, following Saturday's result in South Florida, Syracuse found out it has not reached its final destination.

The Hurricanes were the favorite -- they were the bigger, faster and stronger -- and they were at home.

All the makings of a blowout, right?

Dino Babers would not allow that, but for the first half, it looked like it was going in that very direction.

Eric Dungey tossed four interceptions, all in the opening half alone. The junior from Lake Oswego, Oregon was missing his targets due in large part to the rainy weather that fell on Hard Rock Stadium throughout the contest.

Regardless of the four turnovers, the Orange remained within striking distance at the halftime break.

Syracuse only trailed 13-3.

After adding another field goal in the second half, the Hurricanes scored once again to extend their lead. A 48-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rozier to Jeff Thomas added to Miami's 20-6 lead.

But Dungey and the Orange responded in due time.

Moe Neal broke off a 15-yard run to pull within a touchdown deficit.

With roughly five minutes to play, the Orange suddenly on trailed 20-13, needing a defensive stop and an offensive drive down the field.

Additionally, Cole Murphy added two more fourth quarter field goals to pull within a 20-19 deficit.

It suddenly [and miraculously] seemed possible. Victory was within sight, but it would take a late fourth quarter stand to pull it off.

That's when Miami proceeded to march down the field, capping off a 9-play, 85-yard drive with a Travis Homer touchdown run.

The Homer touchdown gave Miami the 27-19 lead with roughly two minutes to play.

Still, Syracuse had a chance to march down the field and tie the game, with the hope of sending it into overtime.

Dungey and the SU offense ran into a fourth down fairly early in the drive, and failed to move the chains when a pass to Ervin Phillips fell short of the line to gain.

Another fight to the finish on the road -- yet another loss on the road.

Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC) came up short at Miami (6-0, 4-0 ACC), 27-19.

Syracuse proved it can play with the big boys of college football. That's no longer the issue.

Confidence and pride are no longer the issue. No longer does the Syracuse program lie down for the likes of LSU, Clemson and Miami.

But in order to move the program forward, Babers will need to find a way to win big games on the road.

Until that occurs, Syracuse Football will have something to work toward. But it seems clear as day -- the Orange are improving -- one game at a time.

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