Syracuse beats Boston College, 20-17, in Scott Shafer’s last game as head coach

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 28, 2015 at 3:59 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Scott Shafer stood on the sideline as his team rushed onto the field. Syracuse’s players mobbed kicker Cole Murphy, whose 35-yard, game-winning kick ended his head coach’s SU career with the win that had escaped him the last two months.As the celebration unfolded, senior Rob Trudo was the first player to hug Shafer and, along with Nick Robinson, lifted Shafer on their shoulders as his eyes teared up.Five days ago, Shafer was fired as their head coach. But for one last time, he could celebrate. He had 14 wins in his head coaching career. The last, too late to save his job.“I wish it was celebrating eight or nine wins and going to a bowl game and all those types of things,” Shafer said, “but it’s four wins and it’s better than three.”In a game that had no postseason implications, SU carried extra motivation. Director of Athletics Mark Coyle fired Shafer on Monday, but allowed Saturday to be his inevitable last hurrah. Syracuse (4-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast) beat Boston College (3-9, 0-8), 20-17, on Saturday and ended SU’s longest losing streak since 2005 at eight games.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textShafer coached 17 losses in the last two seasons. His moment, his last moment, was too late to make up for it all.“It feels good to be on the other side of those types of games,” sophomore captain Zaire Franklin said. “With everything that went on this week with Coach, we felt it was important.”SU practiced harder this week because players wanted to send Shafer out with a win, wide receiver, Steve Ishmael said. When Shafer addressed the team on Friday night, the head coach cried.As Shafer’s final game entered the last eight and a half minutes with BC in possession, it resembled others that Syracuse blew this season. Virginia used the final 6:52 to force overtime with a field goal on Oct. 17. A week later, Pittsburgh whittled the last 9:20 to win the game, 23-20.But Syracuse’s defense made a third-down stop with more than two and a half minutes left. BC kicked a field goal to tie it, leaving enough time for the Orange to answer.After losing twice on the final play of the game while postseason hopes were still in tact — and possibly Shafer’s job, too — SU had a chance to finally pull out a fourth-quarter win.A 9-yard pass to Ervin Philips, a 10-yard pass to Alvin Cornelius and back-to-back runs by Jordan Fredericks moved Syracuse downfield. Each play built more momentum than the last and put Murphy in position to kick the game-winner.“I didn’t want to be the special teams coordinator for a second,” special teams coordinator Tim Daoust said.Shafer’s been criticized for poor time management over the past several months but went out with a fourth-quarter drive that gave SU its fourth win of the year.And the celebration that ensued wasn’t about winning an otherwise seemingly irrelevant game. It wasn’t about the difference between three wins and four. But it did acknowledge a coach that never got to see the talent he brought in fully develop.“It’s tough, but I’m happy for Scott, happy for the kids,” Daoust said. “It’s about the kids so I’m happy that they went out the right way because it’s tough circumstances.”As Shafer was carried off the field, fans chanted “Thank you Shafer!” Players hugged and then swayed to SU’s alma mater for the final time in 2015. Ishmael said it felt like a movie.After the game, Shafer walked out to the podium for the final time. His one-minute, 40-second press conference was filled with sniffles, thanks, and a 12-second pause to gather himself. He thanked his assistant coaches and the community for the past seven years he spent at SU. He said “Go Orange,” as he turned to leave.On the day before training camp, Shafer said he’d spoken with Coyle. The AD told him that it would be a marathon, not a sprint. Shafer’s marathon ended just 11 games later, and the 12th proved to be his victory lap.The next time SU takes the field, there will be a new coach and possibly a whole new staff. The future is filled with many unknowns. Saturday commemorated the present.A new marathon for Syracuse is just beginning, but for Shafer, it’s over. Commentslast_img