Syracuse lost 16-13 to Boston College Saturday, its fifth straight loss in a row. However, this one didn’t have the demoralizing feel of the four prior.
Both teams struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the early going. The first three drives of the game ended in punts. The first points came when BC put together a 12-play drive at the end of the first quarter and finished with a field goal.
Syracuse immediately answered with a 13-play drive of its own. That’s when the Orange offense was at its best. The hyper-speed tempo that defines “OITNF” was on full display, as first-time starter JaCobian Morgan threw quick darts to the outside and running back Sean Tucker sliced up the Eagle defense. Unfortunately, the march stalled at the 17, and kicker Andre Smyzt confidently nailed a 35-yarder to tie the game at three apiece.
The second quarter began much like the first. BC missed a field goal, and then both teams traded punts. Once again, the Eagles scored at the end of the quarter. This time, quarterback Phil Jurkovec threw a 19-yard rainbow to Zay Flowers, who snagged the ball and got a foot down in the back left corner of the end zone. Jurkovec finished with 208 passing yards and the aforementioned touchdown. The 10-3 score stuck going into halftime.
BC came out strong in the second half, relying on running backs David Bailey and Travis Levy to pound the ball up the gut. However, kicker Aaron Boumerhi missed a second field goal, and SU drove down the field for three. BC responded with a made field goal, and then the game got boring. Two three-and-outs, a Morgan interception and one more BC three-and-out carried it into crunch time at 13-6 Eagles.
But with 6:40 left in the fourth, SU left the door open. Tucker fumbled (on an extremely questionable call) on the Orange 20-yard line, leaving the door open for the Eagles to clinch the game with a touchdown. But two BC penalties forced the Eagle offense back to the 27, and Syracuse pushed tight end Hunter Long out at the two-yard line to force another field goal.
Down 16-6, the onus was on Morgan to lead a touchdown drive. And he did just that. Three completions to backup RB Cooper Lutz, two helpful penalties from the BC secondary and a massive 14-yard scramble to convert a 3rd-and-10. Morgan led the Orange all the way down the field and capped it off with a one-yard TD toss to tight end Aaron Hackett to cut the deficit to three. Unfortunately, the Eagles recovered the ensuing onside kick, and ran the clock to zero.
Syracuse kept this game close throughout its entirety. The defense stood up on multiple third downs, stopping both the run and the heralded BC passing attack. JaCobian Morgan didn’t look like a world-beater, but he sure as heck was better than Rex Culpepper. The freshman threw some darts on the run, finished with 188 yards and a touchdown, and only made one mistake, an interception that ended up working like a punt. Sean Tucker did Sean Tucker things and appeared healthy. The future looks just a little bit brighter in the 315.