Pitt defeats Syracuse 27-20 despite Orange’s fourth quarter comeback

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Daniel Hartwig, cc

Syracuse stadium

Dylan Shields, Sports Writer

On Friday night, pretty much everything you could ask for happened in the Pitt, Syracuse football game.  From awful officiating to good offense, and to good defense, this game had it all.

The Panthers got off to a shaky start, with Maurice Ffrench fumbling on the punt return, giving the Orange the ball back to tie the game at 3.

Eventually, Pitt got their offense moving with a beautiful trick play with running back A.J. Davis throwing it back to quarterback Kenny Pickett, who threw a bomb to wide receiver Aaron Matthews for a touchdown.

After a Syracuse field goal, Pitt would score another TD thanks to a good punt return by Ffrench, putting the offense in good field position.

Then, Pitt would have another good, long 10-play drive culminating with a 14-yard TD pass from Pickett to Ffrench.  The game would look out of reach for Syracuse, or so fans thought.

Up 24-6, the Panther’s offense was quiet.  However, the defense kept to par, not allowing Syracuse to score.

But finally, on a third-and-9 from their own six-yard line, QB Clayton Welch threw a lob to WR Taj Harris, who sprinted past the defense for a 94-yard-TD to get Syracuse back in the game.

Just when momentum was back in the Orange’s favor, after a long 10-play drive, kicker Andre Szmyt missed a 49-yard FG, wasting all the time on the clock for no points.

Pitt would eventually melt the clock down on a long 12-play drive.  Then on a third-and-12, Pitt’s tight end dropped an easy touchdown and kept Syracuse in the game with the score being 27-13.

For the last chance for Syracuse, Pitt’s defense was unable to stop the offense, allowing three fourth-down conversions.  After a sack, however, Pitt had the game won with the Orange stuck in a fourth-and-25 situation.  But thanks to an awful defensive play call, with Pitt playing tight instead of zone defense, a pass interference call gave Syracuse life, and they would capitalize and cut the game to 7.

As Pitt was trying to win, Davis got hit from behind, causing a fumble and a Syracuse recovery.  With Pitt fans holding their breaths, the refs changed the call, stating he was down by contact, despite no evidence showing that he was down first.

Davis would eventually gain a first down to help Pitt survive an incredible comeback from Syracuse.

Syracuse goes to Tuscaloosa to play Florida State next week, while Pitt goes back home to play the Miami Hurricanes.

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