Zack Mahoney’s 3 2nd-half touchdowns not enough for comeback against LSU

first_img Published on September 26, 2015 at 6:38 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ Tim Lester threatened to take Zack Mahoney out of the game if he didn’t start having fun.The sophomore fluttered passes to the turf well short of his targets. He struggled to string together completions. Syracuse failed to get a first down until the middle of the second quarter.Earlier in the week, in front of a small group of reporters, Mahoney said he had no nerves before facing No. 8 Louisiana State. But when he trotted out under center in front of over 40,000 fans, it was different.“Those nerves kind of messed up my motion a little bit,” Mahoney said. “… and I kind of reverted back to old habits where I was not nearly as consistent as I should be.”Mahoney’s first half: 5-of-13 for 35 yards and no rushing yards. His second 30 minutes: 11-of-25 for 119 yards, three touchdowns and 40 yards on the ground. In the end, it wasn’t enough to dig Syracuse (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) out of a hole he helped put them in. But in a 34-24 loss to the Tigers (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern) on Saturday in the Carrier Dome, the walk-on’s starting debut was capped off with reason for optimism after a tumultuous start.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“All in all I’ve been pleased with his progress including the second half today,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “He threw for three touchdowns … that’s not too damn bad for a young man that we were just figuring out his name here a few months ago.”On the fourth play of the game, Mahoney scrambled within the pocket and was sacked from behind. The ball spurted out of his hands and to the turf — it was picked up by SU’s Nick Robinson — and Riley Dixon trotted out to punt.Inconsistency reaching his targets plagued SU early, with Mahoney often short-arming receivers who flanked out to the sides. On passes down the middle, he’d throw well in front, leaving the ball bouncing on the turf in front of an oncoming LSU defensive back.The Tigers weren’t doing much better — aside from Leonard Fournette being Leonard Fournette — but Mahoney couldn’t capitalize and the first four drives resulted in no first downs.“I missed a lot of open throws,” Mahoney said. “… and I just wish I could get those back.”The first time Mahoney aired it out down the middle, after two and a half quarters of mostly handoffs and short out routes, Brisly Estime hauled in a 40-yard touchdown pass. That brought Syracuse within seven.Then two drives later, Mahoney found Ben Lewis for a 2-yard score, bringing the Orange within a touchdown again. Gone were the runs up the gut and short passes slowed down by an offense that trailed by single digits. In its place was a pass-happy walk-on who was in the game in the first place because of his mobility.“Hopefully next game we incorporate a lot more passes so we can get in a rhythm a lot earlier,” wide receiver Steve Ishmael said.The nail in the coffin came when Mahoney had his pass tipped and intercepted by LSU linebacker Deion Jones. Syracuse trailed by 14 and gave the Tigers the ball with 26 yards to the end zone. The drive finished with a field goal and Syracuse couldn’t scratch back to within single digits.On the last drive, Mahoney completed five passes and ran for 26 yards. The game was already decided, but he flashed his potential.After talks throughout the game with Terrel Hunt and quarterbacks graduate assistant Joe Furco, Mahoney loosened up. It’s what allowed him to get back to what earned him the starter’s job, even if it came too late.“I feel like I played OK,” Mahoney said. “Not nearly as well as I can and should.” Commentslast_img

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