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Syracuse Football Falls 45-24 to South Florida

Syracuse dropped its second consecutive game on Saturday, this time falling 45-24 to South Florida at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday.

In the loss, the Orange (3-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) struggled on both sides of the ball and were thoroughly outplayed by the Bulls (2-3, 0-1 American Athletic). Syracuse's offense couldn't stop USF on the ground or through the air, and though the Orange's offense woke up in the third quarter after a slow start, it wasn't enough to keep up with South Florida.

Early on, neither offense could get much going and the game was knotted in a scoreless tie after one quarter. But South Florida scored early in the second half when running back Darius Tice scampered into the end zone from one yard out.

Late in the half, with SU trailing 7-3, the Orange forced USF into a punting situation. But on the punt, the ball hit Syracuse’s Kielan Whitner in the back before being recovered by a South Florida player, giving the Bulls possession deep in the Orange’s territory. USF managed to extend its lead to 10-3 before halftime thanks to a 21-yard field goal from Emilio Nadelman.

In the second half, the Bulls wasted little time in widening the scoring gap. Five minutes and seven seconds into the third quarter, they had already scored two touchdowns. First, running back Marlon Mack capped a six-play, 75-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown run. Then, quarterback Quinton Flowers found wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson for a 42-yard score, capping a three-play, 75-yard drive and putting South Florida ahead 24-3.

The Orange didn’t go away quietly. SU quarterback Eric Dungey engineered back-to-back touchdown drives to make the score 24-17. On the first touchdown, he scrambled to avoid pressure before checking the ball down to running back  Jordan Fredericks near South Florida’s 25-yard line. Fredericks then took it the rest of the way for the touchdown.

After Syracuse forced and recovered a fumble on USF’s ensuing drive, the offense again found the end zone. Eric Dungey kept the ball on an option play and ran it into the end zone from seven yards out.

South Florida answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive that was capped with a 45-yard touchdown run by Mack. SU also scored again on its next possession, as Dungey found wide receiver Steve Ishmael for a 7-yard touchdown pass to again pull within seven.

Unfortunately for the Orange, it wasn’t enough. As the Bulls managed touchdowns on their next two drives, the Orange turned the ball over on theirs; Dungey threw an interception on one and lost a fumble on the next.

Dungey finished the game 21-of-34 for 234 yards, two touchdowns and that interception in the loss. Hybrid Ervin Philips led all Syracuse receivers with five receptions for 75 yards.

On the other side, Flowers went 15-of-22 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran the ball 15 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Mack had 21 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Bronson and Rodney Adams finished with six catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Syracuse will next play in a week, when the Orange hit the road again to meet Virginia in Charlottesville. You can listen to live game action at 3:30 p.m. on 88.3 FM WAER.