Missed chances doom Syracuse football in loss to Notre Dame

SU forced five turnovers, but mustered only 15 points at MetLife Stadium on Saturday evening.

Through the first quarter, Syracuse matched up with Notre Dame as well as any team had during the 2014 season.

Unfortunately for the Orange, there was still 45 minutes of play. 

On a humid Saturday night in front of 76,802 fans, the largest crowd ever for a college football game at MetLife Stadium, the Orange sputtered midway through its contest with the No. 8 Fighting Irish and fell 31-15. 

Photo: Taylor Baucom
Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson (No. 88) leaps for a touchdown during a 31-15 victory over the Syracuse Orange.

The Syracuse (2-2) defense, which allowed two touchdowns in the first quarter last week against Maryland, kept Heisman Trophy Award candidate Everett Golson and the Irish off the scoreboard during the first 15 minutes of play. 

Notre Dame (4-0), which had an extra week to prepare for the Orange and was without starting receiver Amir Carlisle, was stymied by the Syracuse defense early on. 

The Orange was handed two early scoring opportunities. Orange cornerback Brandon Reddish recovered a fumble by quarterback Everett Golson on Notre Dame’s first drive, then later intercepted an errant pass from the second-year starter. 

“Durell (Eskridge) told me to stay back in my zone and everything would come to me and that’s what happened,” Reddish said. “He overthrew the receiver and I caught it.” 

But SU failed to capitalize. 

Meanwhile, the Irish’s potent offense started to click as the second quarter got underway. Golson and receiver Corey Robinson found a solid connection, as the latter caught three passes on the Irish’s first second quarter drive. It eventually led to a Will Fuller 23-yard touchdown catch to put Notre Dame on the board 7-0. 

Syracuse struggled to stop Notre Dame late in drives. The Irish converted 4 of 7 third downs in the second quarter alone. 

The Orange also recovered another fumble in the second quarter, but couldn’t turn it into points. 

“It’s frustrating, but that’s why I love football,” SU head coach Scott Shafer said, “It’s frustrating, but let’s go. We have to move on, and that’s what I told the kids.” 

Golson threw for 200 passing yards in the quarter, highlighted by a 72-yard connection with Fuller to put the Irish up 14-0. 

New SU placekicker Cole Murphy later cut the deficit to 11 before halftime with a 38-yard field goal. 

Coming into the game, the Irish defense ranked 24th in the country against the run, SU’s primary offensive attack. After piling up 302 yards on the ground last week against Maryland, Terrel Hunt and Prince-Tyson Gulley were limited to just 29 yards rushing in the first half. 

“It comes down to blocking and tackling and getting off the blocks, and [the Irish defense] did a hell of a job,” Shafer said. 

The Irish continued the onslaught in the second half as Golson found Robinson again for an 8-yard touchdown on Notre Dame’s first drive of the third quarter. 

Golson would eventually complete 25 consecutive passes, falling one short of the Football Bowl Subdivision record set by Dominique Davis of East Carolina in 2011. 

The Orange tried to fight back, as Hunt fought through a hip injury and rushed for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter. Eskridge later cut the Irish lead to 13 with a pick-six, but SU’s two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. 

Irish kicker Kyle Brindza eventually iced the game with a 37-yard field goal with just under two minutes to play. 

Gulley caught three passes to move into second place on SU’s all-time list for career receptions by a running back.

The loss marked the third straight game the Orange topped the 400-yard plateau, recording 429 yards of total offense on 68 plays. Hunt thinks it’s only a matter of time before those numbers translate into more wins. 

“I have the utmost faith in the whole team,” he said, “The defense did a great job, and the offense fell short a couple of times. I’ll just go back to the drawing board and get better next week.” 

The Orange returns to action Friday as it begins Atlantic Coast Conference play against Louisville at the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m.

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