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Saturday, Nov 04, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Cole Murphy Falls Short in Football’s Loss to FSU

By Chris Thomsen

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — It was arguably the biggest moment in Cole Murphy’s tenured career as the kicker for the Orange. He ran onto the field with six seconds left in regulation.

In Hollywood, Murphy would’ve nailed the game-winning kick. But in Tallahassee, Murphy was merely tying to send a 27-24 game to overtime. After a quick timeout from FSU to save a penalty, Murphy lined up his shot.

He nailed a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, which should have provided some confidence to the kicker. But two other factors may have been on his mind. His earlier attempt in the first quarter from 48 yards away was blocked. The other, was the noise created by over 70,000 Seminole fans. It hadn’t been that loud in Doak Campbell Stadium until this moment.

Murphy’s final kick on Saturday, a 43-yard field goal as time expired, fell wide left of the goal posts. The Seminoles finally had its first home win of the season while the Orange remained winless on the road.

A hard fought battle was decided in a matter of seconds, which is why Dino Babers will never put the blame of a defeat on one man.

“We left a lot of meat on the bone,” Babers said. “Offensively and defensively. In our family, we never talk about one guy losing the game or one guy winning the game anyway.”

Babers was right. The Orange whiffed on an opportunity to tie the game at halftime as Eric Dungey couldn’t connect on passes to Steve Ishmael and Erv Phillips. Syracuse was 11-for-25 on third-down conversions, which resulted in seven punts and two turnovers-on-downs. SU’s defense allowed Cam Akers to rush for 199 yards on 22 attempts, including 159 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

Because of those errors, Phillips believed that Murphy deserved no blame for the missed kick.

“I ran into him right after the play,” Phillips said. “I told him I was proud of him. Regardless, hey, I was still proud of him. He’s been great all year. As an offense, we shouldn’t put him in that position.”

Babers praised Murphy two weeks ago in his press conference after the kicker had nailed four field goals against Miami, calling his performance something he’s never seen before.

This week, in a complete reversal, Babers had to defend his kicker. He sensed the criticism that could come from fans.

“He’s missed four kicks this entire year,” Babers said. “And it’s not like he’s kicked a little bit. He’s kicked a lot. If someone asked me if I was going to take that before the season started, heck, yeah, I’m going to take it. The thing that you can’t take is you just don’t know when those four misses are going to be. “

It may take some time for Murphy to bounce back from Saturday’s ending. But Babers’ confidence in Murphy never wavered.

“I’m really happy,” Babers said. “He’s got four misses and he’s got a bunch of hits. I’m good with Cole. I think he’s done a good job.”