SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A successful extra-point attempt that was anything but. Two significant injuries. One ill-timed miscue when everything was going right before that.
This was a loss that won’t soon be forgotten at the University of Toledo.
The Rockets (1-3) fell 33-30 to Syracuse in overtime Saturday in front of 39,116 at the Carrier Dome, ending their streak of defeating a BCS opponent each year for the last five seasons.
Had the Big East game officials correctly determined that Syracuse kicker Ross Krautman missed his extra point with 2:07 remaining, however, then Ryan Casano’s 20-yard field goal as time expired in regulation may have held more meaning.
After the game, Big East Conference coordinator of football officiating Terry McAulay admitted the officials made a mistake.
“After studying the videos of the Syracuse extra point attempt at 2:07 of the fourth quarter, we have concluded that the ruling on the field that the kick passed between the uprights was incorrect, and that the replay official made an error in failing to reverse that ruling. In reviewing the video, we have determined that the angle from behind the kicking team shows conclusively that the ball passes outside the right upright.”
UT coach Tim Beckman wasn’t sure what to make of the admission.
“I just want to know what this all means. I guess it means we won 30-29. It should never have gone to overtime,” Beckman said.
After the game, Beckman said the coaches upstairs called down to the sideline to tell him the kick appeared wide, but the Rockets lost the review on the field.
Krautman’s extra point put Syracuse ahead 30-27, and UT opted not to go for the win on fourth-and-goal at the Orange’s 3-yard line with four seconds to play.
The Rockets did gamble on its first play in overtime, though, when Austin Dantin threw deep to the corner of the end zone, but Syracuse cornerback Kevyn Scott made them pay when he wrestled the ball away from intended receiver Bernard Reedy.
Seven plays later, Krautman kicked the game-winner from 27 yards out — his fourth field goal of the afternoon.
“When you come into these games as we’ve learned as a team and a coaching staff, it’s us against the world,” Beckman said. “We talked about [going for the win in regulation], but as we talked to the team, we felt we had as good of an opportunity to go into overtime and win the football game.”
Toledo held the lead several different times yesterday, the last time coming after running back Morgan Williams’ three-yard touchdown run on a direct snap put the Rockets ahead 27-23 with 10:54 remaining.
Ryan Nassib later put the Orange ahead with his 18-yard lob to receiver Alec Lemon, who had a step on UT safety Ross Madison down the left seam after the Rockets came on an all-out blitz.
“He just floated it up, and the receiver made a play on the ball,” UT safety Jermaine Robinson said. “It was up there forever.”
Still with plenty of time left, the Rockets marched 65 yards on nine plays and managed to send it into overtime behind the efforts of Dantin.
Minus his poorly thrown pass in overtime, Dantin played brilliantly while battling a flu bug that kept him up all night before the game.
Dantin was 22-of-32 passing for 258 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to David Fluellen in the third quarter, and he led the Rockets on all six of their scoring drives.
“He’s just a warrior,” said Eric Page, who posted a career-high 158 receiving yards on 13 catches. “He’s a team player, and we put a lot on him.”
Fluellen was UT’s top rusher with 62 yards on 12 carries after stepping in for starting running back Adonis Thomas, who broke his arm on the first series of the game. Beckman said Thomas will miss three-to-four weeks.
“It was big shoes to fill coming in for Adonis,” said Fluellen, an upstate New York native from nearby Lockport. “Me and Morgan [Williams] had to come in and hold it down, but it’s going to be hard these next couple of games without Adonis.”
The Rockets may also be without senior cornerback Desmond Marrow for an extended period of time. He was taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering a concussion during the third quarter.
While trying to tackle Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey, Marrow led with his helmet and lay motionless facedown on the field for some time after the nasty collision. Beckman said all tests on Marrow at a local hospital came back negative and he returned on the team flight.
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @ZachSilka.