SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Villanova had a window of opportunity to defeat a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Friday night, but its chance sailed wide.
After senior Chris Gough missed a 25-yard field goal that would have won the game at the end of regulation, Syracuse (1-0) inched by Villanova (0-1), 27-26, in double overtime in the Carrier Dome.
"I felt like we could have won the game tonight," Wildcats coach Andy Talley said. "We had it all timed out at the end. You line up and kick the field goal and you win."
Gough made a field goal at the end of the Wildcats' first overtime drive, but Syracuse tied the score on its possession before taking the lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass by punter Riley Dixon.
Syracuse lined up for a field goal in its second overtime drive, but Dixon took the snap and rolled out before finding tight end Kendall Moore for the winning score.
After John Robertson threw a touchdown pass to Gary Underwood on the Wildcats' second overtime drive, Robertson was stuffed at the line on a two-point attempt that would have won the game.
"I thought we were pretty well spent, that's why we went for two at the end," Talley said.
Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt was ejected from the game after looking to throw a punch at Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half. Villanova wasn't able to capitalize on Hunt's gaffe or sweep up its early mistakes, and the Orange improved to 13-0 all-time against Football Championship Subdivision opponents.
After a 12-play first drive ended in a punt, the Wildcats defense forced Syracuse to go three and out in front of its own end zone. But a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave Syracuse new life, and Prince-Tyson Gulley ran for a 65-yard touchdown three plays later.
That gave Syracuse a 7-0 lead, but Robertson rallied the Wildcats.
After Hunt was ejected, sophomore Austin Wilson took over for the rest of the game. The 'Nova defense started to stall the Orange attack, aside from Adonis Ameen-Moore's 2-yard touchdown at the start of the third quarter, and the rest of the team followed suit.
Poppy Livers - who caught five passes for 58 yards - eluded a handful of Syracuse tacklers for a 67-yard punt-return touchdown with 2:34 left in the third quarter, and the Wildcats blanked the Orange in the fourth.
But after tying the game on a 25-yard field goal with just over seven minutes to play in regulation, Gough couldn't seal the game from the same distance.
Two possessions later, a flash of trickery and a go-for-broke gamble left the Wildcats feeling upset.
"We couldn't have played any better than that," Talley said. "It's one of the best performances of all time from one of my teams."