Syracuse, N.Y. — Syracuse couldn’t find a consistent rhythm on offense Saturday afternoon, leading to a 21-10 loss at No. 25 Pittsburgh.
The Orange (0-2, 0-2 ACC) has lost back-to-back games to begin the 2020 season.
Check out the best and worst from the Orange’s game against the Panthers (2-0, 1-0).
Best individual performance
Kenny Pickett proved to be the difference-maker for the Pitt offense Saturday afternoon. The senior quarterback kept his composure in the pocket throughout the game, completing 25-of-36 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a one-yard score.
Pickett’s longest throw of the game came in the first quarter as he found Jordan Addison for a 27-yard score to give Pitt its first touchdown of the afternoon.
Best offensive play
Syracuse redshirt senior Rex Culpepper entered the game at quarterback early in the second quarter after Tommy DeVito suffered an injury following his fourth sack.
Culpepper found Nykeim Johnson for a nine-yard gain on his first throw of the drive. On the second throw, he launched a high pass to Taj Harris, who avoided two tackles while staying in bounds for a 69-yard touchdown reception to give the Orange a 10-7 lead. The moment is significant not only because it was Syracuse’s first touchdown of the season. The drive was also Culpepper’s first stint of quality playing time since being declared cancer-free in 2018.
Best defensive play
Syracuse linebacker Mikel Jones found himself in the mix of two forced turnovers during Saturday’s game. Jones came up with a fumble recovery after Pickett threw a lateral pass that slipped out of the hands of Vince Davis. Jones also jumped in front of a pass thrown by Pickett in the third quarter and came up with an interception for the second-straight game.
“I just went to him and made a play. It was fun,” Jones said after the game.
Best player/coach reaction
Pittsburgh strong safety Paris Ford picked off Tommy DeVito with a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. To celebrate the turnover, the Pitt defense brought out a mini-basketball hoop, leading to a windmill jam by Ford.
Worst kicking performance
Pitt kicker Alex Kassman missed two field goals – 37 and 45 yards. The Panthers also failed on a field goal attempt towards the end of the first half, which resulted in a loss of nine yards.
The worst stat falls on the Syracuse offensive line, which allowed seven sacks on Tommy DeVito. Protecting the quarterback has been a struggle for the Orange. DeVito has been taken down 14 times by North Carolina and Pitt’s defense.
Pittsburgh committed four penalties in the first four minutes of the game. Syracuse’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, while Pitt made another penalty on a kickoff in the first quarter.
Syracuse had several inconsistent stretches on offense due to the shuffling of quarterbacks and its inability to find success in the run game. However, the most questionable move on offense was the decision making late in the game. Syracuse had three timeouts remaining and trailed 21-10 after electing not to kick a field goal late in the fourth quarter. Instead of choosing to stop the clock while Pitt ran its offense, coach Dino Babers chose to hold on to his timeouts, which expedited the team’s second-straight loss.
MORE ORANGE FOOTBALL
Syracuse offense is a trainwreck near the red zone (instant takeaways)
Syracuse offense still can’t get going in 21-10 loss at Pitt
Syracuse football at Pittsburgh: Live score, updates
Syracuse football travel roster: Tyrell Richards returns for Pitt game
Contact Mike Curtis anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter at @MikeACurtis2.