Rettig threw for two touchdowns and scored another to give BC a 28-24 lead over Syracuse midway through the fourth quarter Saturday before the Orange rallied to win 34-31 on Terrel Hunt's 8-yard scoring pass to tight end Josh Parris with 6 seconds left.
"Obviously, a very disappointing loss," said BC head coach Steve Addazio, a former Syracuse assistant. "I thought we managed without Andre. Give credit where credit is due. They had to go down the field 75 yards with 2 minutes left and no timeouts."
The Eagles (7-5, 4-4 ACC) had won four straight behind Williams, their record-setting tailback. He had averaged 299 yards rushing the previous three games to place his name into the running for the Heisman Trophy and was averaging 188.5 yards and 6.5 yards a carry entering play Saturday.
"He was hurting. He was hurt right from the beginning," Addazio said. "He couldn't run with that force and (I'm) certainly not going to put him in harm's way."
It was a tough loss for Rettig, who passed for 168 yards and dazzled Syracuse with his footwork, rushing for 85 yards on only four carries.
"They ended up having that drive. Give them credit," Rettig said. "That's just how it goes sometimes."
Rettig had provided BC with the go-ahead score with his legs. He ripped off an impressive 54-yard run, starting left and cutting completely back across the field before being tackled at the Syracuse 17. He scored on a keeper with 7:49 left for a 28-24 lead.
"They called the plays that were there and I worked to execute them," Rettig said. "We made some big plays and we put ourselves in position to score some touchdowns."
With bowl eligibility on the line for the Orange, Hunt had his best game in capping a regular season that had been something of a struggle for the sophomore. Hunt was 29 of 43 for a career-high 270 yards and two touchdowns passing and rushed for 90 yards and another score, outgaining the Eagles by 1 yard.
Most importantly, he guided Syracuse 75 yards to the winning score moments after throwing an interception that sent many fans for the exits.
"He was having a good game all day, but when he threw that pick — I'm not going to lie — there was a lot of shock on the sideline," Orange offensive tackle Sean Hickey said. "He could have crumbled."
The victory made Syracuse (6-6, 4-4 ACC) eligible for the postseason for the third time in four years.
"I'm starting to understand the game better. This was my best game — ever," said Hunt, who was beaten for the starting job in preseason by Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen. "To have a game like this and win a game for the seniors, it was amazing."
The victory was oh-so-sweet for first-year coach Scott Shafer, who has had to juggle his lineup as injuries mounted. Parris, a redshirt freshman, stepped in for the injured Beckett Wales and caught seven passes for 47 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career.
"How many said it was over?" an animated Shafer said afterward, praising the raucous Carrier Dome crowd. "Our kids didn't. This is a team of character."
On the winning drive, Hunt fumbled, but center Macky MacPherson fell on it. Hunt followed by hitting Alvin Cornelius III for 14 yards before the winning TD, which sent the Syracuse bench rushing onto the field in celebration.
Syracuse had taken a 24-21 lead on Ryan Norton's 42-yard field goal late in the third, and he added a 44-yarder with 5:03 remaining in the game.
Something had to give in this one. Williams entered the game with 2,073 yards rushing and Syracuse was one of three FBS teams, along with Ohio State and Wisconsin, not to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. Williams had nine 100-yard games and three straight 200-yard games coming in.
Hit hard repeatedly in the first half, Williams was hurt on a run up the middle on the first play of the third quarter in a big pileup that also sent Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill to the sidelines.
With their star in the locker room, the Eagles tied the game at 21-all. Rettig had scrambles of 16 and 13 yards to key the drive and hit Jake Sinkovec for a 9-yard TD.
With their season on the line, the Orange scored three straight times in the second quarter. Parris caught a 1-yard TD, George Morris scored on a 4-yard run, and Hunt on a 1-yard keeper.
Rettig's 9-yard touchdown to C.J. Parsons on a throwback pass in the final seconds of the second quarter made it 21-14 Syracuse at halftime.