This was not exactly a storybook ending, not with the coach’s fate having already been decided before Thanksgiving. That said, Syracuse's performance Saturday said a lot about the way the Orange thought of their outgoing head coach, Scott Shafer.
Behind a spirited effort, Syracuse sent Shafer out a winner Saturday, beating Boston College, 20-17, on a 38-yard field goal from Cole Murphy at the buzzer. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak and let the Orange end their season with something to smile about.
Shafer was lifted onto the shoulders of Syracuse players postgame, and each Orange player gave him a hug in the end zone. It was quite a touching scene in a season that had gone by the wayside for Syracuse.
Here’s how everything went down in the regular-season finale at the Carrier Dome:
What the win means for Syracuse: The focus for the Orange will immediately turn to the future, as the school announced Shafer’s firing Monday and must now go about finding a new head coach. The onus is on new athletic director Mark Coyle to get this hire right, as Shafer got the axe after just three years -- the first three years of the Orange’s new life in the ACC, at that. (And he had plenty of injuries, to boot.) Shafer's defense stepped up big-time Saturday, allowing BC a measly nine passing yards, while Zack Mahoney threw two touchdown passes and drove the Orange down for the game-winning field goal. Syracuse finishes the year 4-8 overall and 2-6 in ACC play.
What the loss means for Boston College: The season has mercifully come to an end for BC, which finishes winless in ACC play and just 3-9 overall -- with just one of those wins coming against an FBS opponent (Northern Illinois). The offense was again left scratching for yards and points in the finale, and though the Eagles were able to march down the field on their final drive and notch a game-tying field goal, it ended up not being enough. This figured to be a rebuilding fall in Year 3 of the Steve Addazio era, but injuries made this a much steeper climb for the Eagles, who could not get enough offense to complement one of the nation’s top defensive units.
Top play: This has to go to Murphy for his game-winning kick. But the postgame scene should not be overlooked, as Syracuse players -- and even Addazio -- spent plenty of time paying their respects to Shafer, who was lifted on the shoulders of Rob Trudo and Nick Robinson after the win.
Stat of the game: BC quarterback Jeff Smith started the game 0-for-10 passing with two interceptions. His 11th pass was a nine-yard completion, and he finished 1-for-13 on the day. (Fortunately, he made up for that with his legs, rushing for 117 yards on 13 carries.)