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Saturday, Oct 07, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Football Holds Off Pittsburgh for Homecoming Victory

By Jake Marsh

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse offense struggled at points in Saturday’s 27-24 win against Pittsburgh, but Eric Dungey and company clicked when it mattered most.

Steve Ishmael hauled in five catches for 97 receiving yards in the contest, highlighted by a 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

According to the junior play-caller, the offensive vibe continued to improve as the game progressed.

“We had a field goal on the first drive and we were moving the ball great, so we didn’t necessarily start slow. We may have had some guys trying to do too much, but once we fixed that we were good.”

The Orange managed to put up just ten first half points, keeping the trend of the slow start alive. But, SU’s quarterback said it was nice to come out on top.

“Once we got the run game going and we’re balanced, it becomes easier,” he said. “I’m happy for the defense and I’m happy we picked up the win. That’s the most important thing right now.”

For Syracuse’s  offense, it was more than just the Dungey-Ishmael connection that worked. Tight End Ravian Pierce caught a team-high nine passes for 99 yards.

Dungey said that with more options in the passing game, it becomes much more difficult for opposing defenses to make stops.

“It puts a lot of pressure on defenses when you have to cover so many guys. You only have so many guys on the field, so once you do that, the run game opens up. It’s great seeing the confidence these guys are getting.”

Saturday’s contest marked the Orange’s third-straight game decided by single digits, but just the first win for Dino Babers and company in such a situation.

The head coach said it was nice to see a complete team effort in the tight-game victory.

“It was good to finally get that monkey off our back,” said Babers, whose team is now 3-3 on the year. “Special teams, offense, and defense contributed to an ACC Atlantic win. It was exciting. The kids are excited and we’re happy that we were able to do our part to make sure that everyone had a happy homecoming.”

Defensively, the Orange kept Pittsburgh from converting a third down until midway through the fourth quarter. A conversion that finally snapped an 0-for-10 streak.

Linebacker Parris Bennett said that it was one of the keys to holding down the Panthers, especially down the stretch.

“We just wanted to get their offense off the field. We knew that three and outs and turnovers were the fastest way to do that.”

Syracuse now begins a short week before hosting the defending national champion Clemson Tigers on Friday night.