Syracuse joined a very exclusive club Saturday. Just not in a good way.
The Orange came up with the brilliant idea to spike the ball on fourth down. It was late in the fourth quarter—the last possession of the game.
The 1-9 Orange had a strong chance of tying or winning, down 36-29. Just things didn’t go as planned. Well, I guess that depends on how you define “plan.”
On third down, Orange quarterback Rex Culpepper took the snap. It quickly turned into a scramble play. The pocket collapsed, and Culpepper was on his own. No receivers were opened. Culpepper quickly found his head in the turf.
And then …
The clock is ticking and ticking. Finally, the ball is snapped. The Orange spike it, and the clock strikes zero. North Carolina State advances to 7-3.
What a waste of a fourth-down, potential game-tying play.
Sadly, Syracuse isn’t the first and — to be fair to them — won’t be the last team to do this.
In 2015, Rutgers did the same thing late in the fourth quarter against No. 4 Michigan State.
The game situation was quite similar, Rutgers was trailing the Spartans 31-24, and the fourth-down play was a chance to tie the ball game.
Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano took a sack on 3rd and 10 at midfield. That play pushed the Scarlet Knights back a few yards and the clock kept running.
The Scarlet Knights couldn’t do anything about it.
What came next was pretty painful to watch. But it’s Rutgers football so should we expect anything different?
Laviano, a redshirt sophomore at the time, spiked the football on fourth down, and the ball went back into the hands of Michigan State. The chance to beat the 6-0 Spartans was out of the window.
Another play, although not as boneheaded, that comes to mind just this season is the end of the Auburn-Arkansas game.
Auburn had the ball on 3rd and one on Arkansas’ 19-yard line. The Tigers down two points with 30 seconds remaining.
Tigers quarterback Bo Nix attempts to spike the ball after fumbling the snap, which results in an intentional grounding call.
On fourth down, the Tigers kicker Anders Carlson kicked a field goal to win the game, but things could have ended very differently.
All in all, what Syracuse did Saturday was pretty outlandish, but not unheard of. There’s one of these types of plays every season. It was just the Orange’s turn for humble post-Thanksgiving pie.