WEST VIRGINIA 14
The Syracuse Orangemen are back and The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy has been returned to its rightful place. After an amazing defensive performance, lead by Doug Hogue and a relentless Mikhail Marinovich, the Syracuse Orangemen pulled off a classic upset win in Morgantown, West Virginia. It was Syracuse's first win on the road against #19/20 WVU since 2000 and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Orangemen, who also ended a 12 game home winning streak for the Mountaineers.
In front of a national television audience and 58,122 fans, just one week after being embarrassed in the annual Homecoming game with numerous recruits in attendance, Syracuse showed the entire country that they are no longer the doormat of the Big East. The Orangemen re-established themselves on the college football scene and improved their record to 5-2 on the year, 2-1 in Big East play. West Virginia came into the game ranked 19th in the Coaches Poll and 20th in the AP Top 25. The loss drops WVU to 5-2 on the year, 1-1 in conference play.
Syracuse got started early, with Doug Hogue intercepting Geno Smith (before ESPN2 realized that the NASCAR time trials had gone on long enough) and Hogue returned the ball to the WVU 26 yard line. Facing 3rd and long Van Chew dropped a pass which would have given the cuse 1st down and goal from the 2 yard line, and SU had to settle for a 28 yard Ross Krautman field goal giving SU the lead 3-0.
West Virginia responded with a 81 yard touchdown drive capped off by a Geno Smith 6 yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin to give WVU the lead 7-3. On the play both Mike Holmes and Da'mon Merkerson looked to be lost in coverage, however the two would respond to put together an extremely solid afternoon.
On Syracuse's next drive Van Chew atoned for his previous dropped pass by catching two balls, the first for a 17 yard gain to the WVU 29 yard line. On the next play Ryan Nassib found Van Chew again, this time for a 29 yard touchdown pass to put Syracuse back out in front 10-7. Van Chew, who finished the day with 2 catches for 46 yards and 1TD, dedicated the game to his grandfather who passed away earlier this week.
West Virginia would only need 3 minutes 14 seconds to respond. Geno Smith and Noel Devine lead the Mountaineers on a 77 yard drive which ended with a 1 yard Ryan Clark touchdown run giving WVU the lead yet again 14-10. With a shootout seemingly brewing, Syracuse's defense would shut the door on the Mountaineer offense. After giving up the 2nd touchdown of the game with 2:06 left in the 1st quarter, the Orangemen's D would not allow another point the rest of the game.
Ross Krautman connected on three field goals in the 2nd quarter, and was a perfect 4 for 4 on the afternoon. His 2nd quarter field goals were from distances of 19, 33 and 22 yards. Needless to say the Syracuse Orangemen's red zone offense was shown up by the #5 defense in the country. Thankfully for the cuse Krautman was perfect. Syracuse would go into the locker room up 19-14 at half time.
Geno Smith came into this game having only thrown 2 interceptions on the season. On this Saturday Doug Hogue had two interceptions of his own, and Phillip Thomas added a 3rd to help shut down the passing game for the Orangemen. Smith finished the game 20 of 37 passing attempts for 178 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Noel Devine had a great day, totaling 122 yards on 24 carries, however he could not find the end zone.
In The Cuse Connection's pregame report, I stated that Syracuse's defense would have to play "out of their minds." I said that the defense would have knock down Geno Smith all day and be extremely aggressive. Thanks to the great play-call and scheming by Scott Shafer Syracuse was able to do just that and shut down the WVU offense in the 2nd half. The special teams also was able to prevent any big plays during returns, however Max Suter did fumble a kick return following WVU's second touchdown. Thankfully Phillip Thomas was able to negate the drive with a pick.
With enough good vibes to go around there was unfortunatey an injury in the game. Delone Carter was injured on a 2nd quarter rushing attempt and was forced to leave the game. He would not return. Carter had an absolutely tremendous 1st quarter, finishing the day with 75 yards on 9 carries. Antwon Bailey took over the rushing game and finished with 94 yards on 19 carries to go along with 2 catches for 11 yards. Prince-Tyson Gulley added 19 yards on 6 carries.
With 6:35 left in the game the Mountaineers got the ball on their 6th yard line. After two penalties by the Orangemen got the drive started, Geno Smith and Noel Devine again started moving the ball down field trailing only by 5. After a 17 yard pass completion to J.D. Woods down to the Syracuse 20 yard line with just 1:25 left on the game clock, Syracuse's defense really shined. Noel Devine was stuffed for no gain on 1st down and Shamarko Thomas sacked Geno Smith for a 12 yard loss, pushing WVU's offense back to the 32 yard line. An incomplete pass on 3rd down brought up 4th and 22 from the Syracuse 32 yard line. With only 49 ticks left on the game clock Shamarko Thomas and Anthony Perkins combined to sack Geno Smith yet again, getting Syracuse the ball back sealing the Orangemen victory.
- Despite the injury Delone Carter moves past Damien Rhodes on Syracuse's All-Time rushing list to 9th place with 2,508 yards. He is now 43 yards behind #8 Bill Hurley on the All-Time list.
- Ryan Nassib committed no turnovers however was just 5 of 15 for 63 yards and 1TD. Marrone showed little faith in him throwing the ball in the 4th quarter.
- Syracuse is now 2 wins away from qualifying for a bowl game with 5 games left to play.
- Chandler Jones had 2 sacks, giving him 4 on the season to go along with his 8 tackles.
- First 4 FG game for Orangemen since Nate Trout in 1999 did it against Tulane.
- The win was Syracuse's 682nd All-Time win, 15th best in college football.
- Hogue had 2 interceptions and 10 tackles on the day to lead the Orangemen.
Next week Syracuse travels to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats at 12:00PM.
photo courtesy of syracuse.com