Bearcats buried

Syracuse forces three turnovers for the second consecutive game as the Orange move within a game of bowl eligibility.

For the second straight week, the Syracuse defense forced three turnovers and the Orange moved one step closer to bowl eligibility as they throttled Cincinnati Saturday, 31-7.

Syracuse (6-2, 3-1) turned three turnovers into 17 points and held the Bearcats scoreless for the entire second half – the fifth time the defense has accomplished that feat this season – en route to the victory.

Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Swinger / The Cincinnati Enquirer
Guard Zack Chibane celebrates with wide receiver Van Chew after his second quarter touchdown at Nippert Stadium Saturday.

Playing without starting quarterback Zach Collaros, the Bearcats (3-5, 1-2) offense struggled for much of the afternoon, though they did eventually finish with 15 more total yards than the Orange. Chazz Anderson had his ups and downs filling in for the injured Collaros, as he completed 18-of-33 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception and fumbled once.  

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib rebounded from a sub par game against West Virginia. The junior completed 16-of-26 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, as well as one interception. Nassib’s first touchdown pass was a bullet to wide receiver Van Chew on a quick slant early in the second quarter to put the Orange up 7-0.

Following SU’s touchdown, things began rapidly falling apart for the Bearcats. Anderson fumbled a handoff on Cincinnati’s first play of the drive and Derrell Smith recovered for Syracuse at the 19-yard line. Five plays later, the Orange celebrated a two-touchdown lead in the end zone.

The Orange scoring drive, however, wasn’t without a bit of luck. Fullback Adam Harris fumbled the ball on a third and goal play at the Cincy one-yard line. The ball squirted into the end zone, where center Ryan Bartholomew quickly picked it up for the touchdown.

On the Bearcats ensuing drive, tragedy struck again. Anderson connected with wide receiver D.J. Woods for a long gain, but as Woods was going down, safety Max Suter knocked the ball loose. Phillip Thomas recovered for the Orange and returned the ball back to the Bearcat’s 19-yard line.

This time around, the Cincinnati defense held the Syracuse offense out of the end zone and forced the Orange to kick a field goal. However, by the time the dust settled, the Bearcats found themselves on the wrong side of a 17-0 hole.

Following the turnovers, the home team would respond. Cincinnati put together an eight-play 62-yard drive that culminated in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Woods to put the Bearcats on the board. Heading into the intermission though, Syracuse remained in control as they led 17-7.

After winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball to start the game, the Orange kicked the ball off to Cincinnati to start the second half. After a sluggish first half, the Bearcats looked to be in sync on the opening drive as they methodically moved the ball down to the SU six-yard line on a 14-play, 62-yard drive.

Enter Derrell Smith.

On a second-down and goal play from the six-yard line, Smith slipped right in front of an Anderson pass and lumbered 60 yards in the opposite direction. Four plays later, Nassib connected with junior running back Antwon Bailey on a swing pass for another Syracuse touchdown to put the Orange back up by 17.

Smith’s interception instigated a possible 14-point swing for the Orange, and effectively took the Cincinnati crowd out of the game.

With the game well in control, Syracuse turned to its running game to continue to control the clock and preserve the victory. The Orange rushed for 137 yards on the day – including a game-high 109 by senior Delone Carter – more impressively though, they dominated the time of possession. Syracuse held the ball for 35 minutes, compared to just 24 for the Bearcats.

In the fourth quarter, SU’s fourth and final touchdown came after what was basically another turnover. Cincinnati elected to try and pick up a first down as it faced a fourth and two in its own territory. Anderson’s pass was incomplete on the play, giving the ball to the Cuse in Bearcat territory.

On the day before Halloween, Bailey put the nail in Cincinnati’s proverbial coffin when he scored his second touchdown of the day – this time on a one-yard run – with 7:31 remaining in the game.

After playing three of its last four games on the road, Syracuse now returns home to host three of its final four games, starting with Louisville next week. The Cardinals (4-4, 1-2) are coming off a 20-3 road loss to Pittsburgh. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for noon.


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