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College football: Syracuse’s Bromley piles up accolades one sack at time

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The Syracuse University football team couldn’t hold its own in a 59-3 beatdown by No. 2 Florida State last Saturday.

But Jay Bromley — the senior captain and defensive tackle — was the exception.

Bromley sacked Heisman candidate Jameiss Winston for a loss of seven yards, upping his season total to nine. He is tied for 12th in the nation and has the most sacks for an SU interior lineman since Kevin Mitchell in 1991. His 96 yards lost on sacks ranks second in the country.

“I can play with anybody in the country. I’m not worried about that,” Bromley said. “But it’s a team thing. If they put one guy on me, I feel like I can take on any one guy in the country. I’ll just keep playing from there. … I wasn’t backing down from nobody, if you’re 6-8, 500 (pounds).”

Bromley was close to recording a second sack on Winston, but the freshman sensation escaped his grasp. It could have been Bromley’s fourth two-sack game of the season, one of the others was against No. 7 Clemson.

“It’s something where I look back on it and maybe I should have slowed down and focused on grabbing him up,” Bromley said. “But a person that has 10 sacks on the season, they miss 30. So it’s all about effort and really just fighting your way to the ball. That’s what it comes down to.”

The Orange, at 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, will host Pittsburgh (5-5, 2-4) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The winner will gain bowl eligibility.

Bromley said he hopes to top last year’s performance against the Panthers in which the SU defense anchored a 14-13 victory.

Pitt has lost 317 yards to sacks this season, which is last in the ACC. Quarterback Tom Savage has been sacked 37 times in 10 games.

“It was a great game, a very low-scoring, defensive game,” said Bromley of their last meeting. “I know that defensive end Brandon Sharpe had four sacks that game, so we’ll see what we can do about it that one. It’s going to be a heck of a performance to follow.”

Bromley, always seen as more of a run-stuffer, tallied just four sacks in his previous two years as the starter.

He has continued to pace SU’s run defense this season, leading the team with 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. SU ranks 13th and 14th in the nation, respectively, with three sacks and 7 tackles for loss per game.

The Orange is also one of just three teams in the nation that has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Ohio State and Wisconsin are the others.

“We were getting in a good flow before we ran into Florida State,” Bromley said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of teams hit a little nick in their flow when they ran into Florida State. We can’t feel too bad about it.”

Bromley is also tied for 13th in the country and third in the ACC with three forced fumbles. He was named to Phil Steele’s fourth-team midseason All-American squad and first-team All-ACC a few weeks ago.

“I don’t feel backlash from (Florida State),” Bromley said. “I know I can play with them and I feel like I did play with them decently, and we just didn’t perform well as a team.”

Bromley added: “Hands down, from top to bottom, they’re the best O-line I’ve come across since I’ve been here. … Kudos to them for being where they are and working hard to get there, but we work hard, too, and I’m pretty sure they remember me, too.”

BOUNCING BACK

SU is one of 27 teams in the nation to lose four games by 21 points or more this season.

They are the only team that has won its next game at least three times. A win over Pitt on Saturday make it 4-for-4 for the Orange.

“They’re strong individuals,” first-year coach Scott Shafer said. “We talk a lot about appreciating the game that we play and treating it with great respect. Respect the game. And to that respect, you have to be a strong person to get your butt knocked down and get back up and fight.”

He added: “If you’ve never played the game and never had your ass kicked, you don’t get it and you don’t respect it. And that’s the part that our kids do respect.”

INJURY UPDATE

Syracuse will be without several weapons on offense Saturday.

Listed as out on SU’s Thursday injury report are: Jarrod West, SU’s leading receiver in terms of yardage; Prince-Tyson Gulley, the team’s leader in all-purpose yards; Brisly Estime, an emerging freshman who caught 13 passes in two starts before missing last Saturday’s game at Florida State.

Starting defensive end Isaiah Johnson is also out.

WHERE TO WATCH

For the second time this season, SU’s game on Saturday will be broadcast by the ACC Network. It will air locally on WWTI (ABC).

SU’s last game on the ACC Network was its 56-0 loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19.

SAVAGE BEATING

Savage will be making his second career start in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

He was under center as a freshman for Rutgers in 2009 and was sacked nine times in a 31-13 Orange victory.

First-year coach Scott Shafer was in his first season as SU’s defensive coordinator under former coach Doug Marrone.

Savage eventually transferred to Arizona and didn’t take a snap before transferring to Pitt after last season. The senior has averaged 233.5 yards per game to go with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Sportswriter Josh St.Croix covers SU football for the Times. He can be reached at jstcroix@wdt.net.

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