Yeah, you have fun picking a specific turning point in a 76-61 college football game. Go ahead, I dare you to pick one. Unfortunately, for me, I have to select one and I have to do it without getting cute and saying, “the coin flip” or something like that. I’ll give it a shot, though.
I really think with all the back and forth, you have to look at Pitt’s final drive to close the first half that keyed their victory over Syracuse.
The score was 28-21 and was already looking like it could be a back and forth tilt. Pitt took a Syracuse kickoff back to their own 36-yard line to try and add to the lead, with only a little over 90 seconds remaining and two timeouts. After five plays, the Panthers found themselves still with two timeouts remaining and down to the Orange 35-yard line with first and ten. There timeouts remaining was good because Pitt only had only a little over 30 ticks on the clock to work with before halftime. That’s when it happened:
Nate Peterman scrambled for an eight yard gain and on his way out of bounds was hit by a Syracuse defender. The official deemed the hit late and threw a flag, giving Pitt the ball down at the Orange 13-yard line. Three plays later, Peterman ran it in himself to give Pitt a 35-21 lead. Syracuse never got closer than that margin. They reached to within 15 in the second half, but never got closer. They played catch up the rest of the game and as bad as Pitt’s defense was, Syracuse was playing a game of “anything you can do, I can do worse” with their defensive unit.
I’m not sure who was guilty of the personal foul, because, I believe there was some controversy on the play. One thing that tells me this is that Heinz Field did not show a replay at all and Syracuse head coach, Dino Babers, called a timeout after the play. Why did he do this? So he could spend an extra 30 seconds giving the ACC officiating crew a stern talking to about the call. Controversial or not, the Orange never really got back into the game, despite all the wildness and that’s why it’s our Turning Point of the Game.