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Syracuse rushing attack struggles against highly ranked Notre Dame run defense

first_imgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With one brilliantly executed fake punt in the third quarter, Riley Dixon nearly matched Syracuse’s rushing yards total from the first half.With that one carry, he also finished the game as the Orange’s leading rusher.The senior punter’s takeoff on a 4th-and-7 accounted for 42 of Syracuse’s 135 yards on the ground in SU’s 31-15 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday at MetLife Stadium. The Fighting Irish flexed its muscle as one of the country’s Top-10 run defenses, limiting SU — aside from Dixon’s highlight-reel dash — to 3.2 yards per carry.SU head coach Scott Shafer said UND effectively threw various fronts at the Orange that disguised where pressure was coming from.“Just kept us off balance and we didn’t do a good job maintaining and sustaining our blocks up front at times and they got off their blocks,” Shafer said. “They did a hell of a job.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt was a far cry from the Orange’s outing against Maryland on Sept. 20, during which SU slashed the Terrapins for 370 total rushing yards.The Orange broke just three runs, including Dixon’s, longer than 10 yards against UND. Unable to establish the ground game early on, Syracuse often faced difficult third-down situations and converted just 3-of-15 of them in the game — and just one in the first half.“Notre Dame was really disciplined in what they were doing,” senior running back Prince-Tyson Gulley said. “We didn’t get the job done.”The Notre Dame defensive ends, SU quarterback Terrel Hunt said, kept to the outside like the Orange expected them to. Hunt said he knew he wouldn’t be able to run as much — he took off seven times Saturday compared to his 36 attempts in SU’s previous two games.Midway through the third quarter, SU failed to get enough push up front twice, on carries by Adonis Ameen-Moore and Hunt. From just outside the red zone, SU turned it over on downs with just 1 yard to gain to move the chains, trailing 21-3.Hunt, whose 7-yard touchdown run accounted for Syracuse’s only offensive score, said he “left it up” to the Orange’s tailbacks to carry the load of the running game.They finally started to carry it, but by then the scoreboard called for a change of plans.“Once we finally figured it out, we started moving the ball in the running game and then we had to abandon it,” left tackle Sean Hickey said. “We just have to communicate what they’re doing earlier and correct it earlier, so it doesn’t have to come to that.” Comments Published on September 29, 2014 at 12:03 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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