Pitt Tops Syracuse 21-10 in Defensive Battle

All Orange Staff

It was more of the same in a lot of ways for Syracuse in week two at rival Pittsburgh. The defense made plays, set up the offense in favorable positions, but they couldn't take advantage and left a lot of points on the field. Pittsburgh pulled away in the fourth quarter on their way to a 21-10 victory over the Orange.

What originally appeared to be a much-needed spark fueling Syracuse’s first win of the season never materialized into anything more than a dying ember.

Syracuse back-up QB Rex Culpepper relieved a battered Tommy DeVito after he was sacked for the fourth time in the first half. Culpepper struck fast with a 69-yard heave to Orange WR Taj Harris to secure Syracuse's first touchdown of 2020 and a 10-7 lead over Pitt. Lighting would only strike once, however, as the Orange wouldn’t score again for the rest of the game.

DeVito re-entered the game to start the third quarter, only to be sacked an additional three times in the second half. DeVito finished the game 9-15 for 32 yards and an interception. He was again replaced by Culpepper in the fourth quarter, who went 4-9 for 88-yards and accounted for Syracuse's lone touchdown of the season.

Their counterpart, Kenny Pickett, completed 25 of his 36 passes for 215 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and an interception. He also scored once on the ground. The Panther offense out-gained Syracuse 342 yards to 171.

Pickett and Pitt responded immediately to Culpepper's long-distance connection with a 65-yard, 14 play touchdown drive that was capped off by Pickett's one-yard plunge. The Panthers would hold that lead for the rest of the game. 

In the third quarter, Mikel Jones forced another turnover when he picked off a Pickett pass in the red zone. Syracuse had a promising drive after the turnover, with freshman running back Sean Tucker leading the way on the ground. However, after DeVito missed Harris down the field on second down, Syracuse attempted a screen on third down. DeVito threw behind Tucker and the ball was intercepted by the opportunistic Pitt safety Paris Ford

The screen appeared to be set up well too, with blockers out in front of Tucker. Instead, Pitt took the ball the other way and scored on their ensuing possession. That 21-10 lead would hold up for the final score. 

The Syracuse defense racked up three sacks and forced two turnovers, but it wasn't enough to prevent the 0-2 start. Syracuse will look to notch their first tally in the win column in their home-opener next Saturday against Georgia Tech.