SYRACUSE A backup thwarted the Syracuse University football team's attempt to finish off a stirring second-half comeback in Saturday's season opener against Northwestern.
In the season opener for both teams, it was the injured quarterback Kain Colter that kneeled down on the sideline and watched nervously as backup Trevor Simian hit Demetrious Fields for a 9-yard touchdown pass pass with 44 seconds remaining.
Simian masterfully culminated a 10 play, 75 yard drive that gave Northwestern a marathon 42-41 victory over the Orange.
On the Wildcats last possession, SU's defense surrendered too many big plays and committed too many penalties which led to a disappointing outcome.
Junior cornerback Keon Lynn made the biggest error. Lynn shoved Fields as the Wildcat QB was running out of bounds and was flagged for a 15-yard late hit penalty that set up the winning score.
The Wildcats dominated the game from the second quarter until the midway point of the third period, scoring 28 unanswered points. However, the Orange’s resurgent offense reciprocated, matching Northwestern with 28 straight points of its own before that final march.
SU quarterback Ryan Nassib contributed with a career-best performance including four second half TD passes. He literally carried his team on his back, ending the afternoon 45 of 66 pass completions for 482 yards, all school record, and earned Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors, but also threw two interceptions.
Northwestern lost six players due to injuries, while Syracuse lost three players in a hard-hitting physical battle. Colter, before he left, was 14-for-21 for 135 yards and accounted for 40 yards on 14 carries.
The Wildcats' special-teams performance was a large factor as to why SU was caught on the wrong footing. Venric Mark was unstoppable star performer, returning a first-quarter punt 82 yards for a touchdown. He also returned one kickoff 49 yards and another for 53 yards giving him a school record of 1,514 yards for his career.