Syracuse skids across season’s finish line with 42-14 loss to Boston College

first_imgZaire Franklin strolled out of the tunnel in the northwest corner of the Carrier Dome, an entrance unlike the rush he and his Syracuse teammates usually make when taking the field every home game. This time, Franklin went slow, because being the final participant in the Senior Day festivities meant he could. He glanced at every angle of the stadium that’s housed his collegiate football career.Franklin hugged Syracuse head coach Dino Babers. He dapped up injured quarterback Eric Dungey. He greeted his family. For the three-time captain, it appeared memorable. Most everything after that moment wasn’t.The defense Franklin anchors as middle linebacker was again lit up in Syracuse’s (4-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) 42-14 loss to Boston College (7-5, 4-4). The Eagles put up 581 yards of total offense with a backup quarterback and a freshman running back. On a day where SU had little to prove, it showed the announced 30,202 fans in attendance the conclusion of a devastating slide to end the season.“We came in, played hard, left it all out on the field,” Franklin said. “At the end of the day, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s unfortunate, but at this point, that’s what happens.”Syracuse came into the game with its collective setbacks. Injuries limited its starting backfield, Dungey and junior running back Dontae Strickland, to playing catch in sweatpants during pregame. A redshirt freshman in Rex Culpepper started at quarterback, a decision Babers said he made because he wanted to evaluate players who will be on the team next year. There was no hope of reaching a bowl game, but SU had to play.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe loss sent SU’s downward spiral deeper than anyone would have liked to imagine back on Oct. 13, the night the Carrier Dome was at its wildest. Since beating Clemson that night, the Orange lost its final five games and for the second straight year went winless in November. The last three, when the margin for error shrunk to nothing, were especially ugly, with SU allowing point totals of 64, 56 and 42. Promise turned to despair, and for SU’s seniors like Franklin, the brightest moment in their career doubled as their last taste of victory. Comments Published on November 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss Babers, though, made it so the senior’s final strides on the turf weren’t walking away from defeat. After addressing his team in the locker room, he told them to go back out and take one more final lap around the field to recall years of better memories. It would be the beginning of a tradition, Babers said, because the recreational opportunities that exist in other sports — like softball leagues and pick-up hoops — won’t be there for his guys.“When a football player retires from college, there’s nowhere to go,” Babers said. “Twenty-two guys aren’t playing in the park with pads.”The moments rushed back. For Franklin, his first practice, first step in the Dome and first snap — when he and fellow linebacker Parris Bennett were thrown in on a goal-line stand against Villanova and allowed a touchdown — all came to mind. He called it a “trip down memory lane.”Bennett had all four years hit him at once. He thought about how fast it all went. He saw his mother, who drove from Detroit to every single home game, still in the Dome.“I saw that,” Bennett said, “and I kind of broke down.”The nostalgia removed the seniors from the immediate sting of losing their final game, one in which BC set the tone early. The Eagles capped their opening drive of 12 plays with the first carry of the afternoon for freshman running back A.J. Dillon, a 22-yard dash into the end zone. On the next BC possession, Dillon darted right and rode the sideline for 50 yards, only to finish the job with an eight-yard touchdown scamper three plays later.Dillon finished with 193 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. On the opening drive of the second half, he ran from the Orange’s one-yard line and nonchalantly placed the ball over the goal line. No one tackled him. It was as if he grew bored of the smashmouth running the Eagles used to plow through SU in the first half.Such an output from the 6-foot, 240-pound running back wasn’t shocking. Including a 39-carry, four-touchdown performance five weeks ago in BC’s win at Louisville, Dillon had posted rushing totals of 272, 89, 149, 196 and 200 yards in his last five games prior to Saturday, respectively.“He’s going to be around for hopefully two more years, not three,” Babers said, referring to Dillon’s NFL potential.Syracuse, meanwhile, hinted its best seniors could contribute to one last win. Steve Ishmael caught a ball on a short crossing route in the first quarter and went basically untouched for a 37-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, he tiptoed the sideline and hauled in a 44-yarder over his shoulders, setting up a 17-yard touchdown to fellow senior receiver Ervin Philips. Together, the two have smashed a few receiving records in Syracuse history, and they showed why on Saturday.But that was it for the offense, which totaled 417 yards of production but just the two scores to show for it. Culpepper frequently misfired on his attempts, by quite a bit. A second-quarter heave landed in the hands of BC cornerback Lukas Denis, nowhere near an SU receiver. Earlier, a broken-up screen pass tumbled to the turf with no whistle to signal the end of the play. So an Eagle picked it up and ran for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead.“It was a beautiful opportunity, and a chance to step up and play,” Culpepper said. “We definitely didn’t get the result that we wanted.”After a second half comprising much of the same, the final seconds ticked off Syracuse’s season. Devin C. Butler dropped a pass, and the jeers from the few fans who remained rung louder in the hollow Dome.Then Culpepper fumbled, and Franklin and his defense had to go back on the field for meaningless plays until the clock struck zero. Yet with five seconds left, Babers called timeout. One by one, he called off the seniors to shake their hands, Bennett and Franklin among them.For that final play, instead of participating, they watched. It’s something they’ll have to get used to. 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