Redemption can be a sweet, sweet thing, especially in Orange. With a game-winning drive against Boston College on Saturday that was executed with no times outs left in and completed in just over two minutes, Syracuse not only capped off the 2013 regular season in exhilarating fashion to become bowl eligible, but they also redeemed themselves in so many ways, making the victory all the more sweet.
For the team as a whole, it was redemption from last week’s loss to Pittsburgh, a game in which they squandered countless opportunities and ended up losing by a single point. The game against Pittsburgh looked like the Orange’s best chance to get to six wins, but with their backs against the wall and their season on the line, Syracuse redeemed itself of the previous week’s mistakes and made the plays that they needed to make with the game on the line.
Syracuse kicker Ryan Norton had a bit of redemption after he missed a field goal against Pittsburgh that could have given the Orange a win last week. Norton also missed a field goal early against Boston College, but he redeemed himself later in the game by making two field goals of more than 40 yards, giving Syracuse six points that proved essential in their three-point win.
The Syracuse offense also redeemed itself after early struggles in the red zone. The Orange had goal to go situations twice in the first quarter and came away empty handed on both occasions. However, the Orange responded in the 2nd quarter with three touchdowns, all of which came from inside the five-yard line, giving Syracuse a halftime lead that provided a much-needed confident boost in a must-win situation.
Quarterback Terrell Hunt found some redemption in the regular season finale to cap an up and down season. Since becoming the starting quarterback, Hunt has had four games in which he’s thrown for less than 100 yards, but against Boston College he threw for a season high 270 yards, completing 29 of 43 passes after completing no more than 18 passes in a single game all year. Most importantly, Hunt redeemed himself for what was almost a game-sealing interception for the Eagles by leading the offense on a game winning drive that included several clutch throws, including the game winner with six seconds left on the game clock.
Offensive coordinator George McDonald also found redemption during Saturday’s game. McDonald has taken a lot of heat this year for his play calling and the inconsistency of the offense, but on Saturday he was pushing the right buttons at the right time. The Orange offense had good balance between the run and the pass, and McDonald brilliantly dialed up the right misdirection play to produce the game-winning score.
There was also plenty of redemption on the defensive side of the ball, specifically for Scott Shafer and the Syracuse seniors that played against Boston College as freshmen in 2010, a group that includes Jay Bromley, Marquis Spruill, and Jeremi Wilkes. In that game, Boston College running back Andre Williams ran for 185 yards against the Syracuse defense, which at the time was coordinated by Shafer, as the Eagles beat the Orange 16-7 to cap off the 2010 regular season. Returning to the Carrier Dome as a senior and a Heisman contender, the Orange defense held Williams to 29 yards on nine carries before leaving with an injury. Outside of a 26-yard touchdown in the 1st quarter, Williams was stifled by the Syracuse run defense and had difficulty just getting back to the line of scrimmage on most of his rushing attempts, as Shafer and company got redemption against the running back that beat them three years ago.
Of course, all of this redemption is just icing on the cake for Syracuse. In a season in which they moved to a new conference, broke in a new coaching staff, and had to replace several key offensive starters, the Orange exceeded all outside expectations. They finished third in the ACC Atlantic Division, behind a pair of top-10 teams, and proved so many critics wrong who believed they would flounder at the bottom of the ACC in their inaugural season. Most importantly, they are bowl eligible for the third time in four seasons. Syracuse football is back to being a respectable program and is set up well for further growth after surviving a transitional season. But all the redemption they experienced in their win over Boston College makes the end to the 2013 regular season all the more sweet.
Bryan Zarpentine covers Syracuse Orange football and basketball for ChatSports.com. You can follow him on twitter @BZarp and @ChatSyracuse. Also, add him to your network on Google, and keep up with Syracuse at ChatSports.com/Syracuse-Orange.Back to the Syracuse Orange Newsfeed