Needing just one victory to declare themselves bowl eligible for the first time since the 2004 season, the Syracuse University football team traveled to Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, NJ. With the weather turning from warm and sunny to brisk and dark and the game knotted at 10-10 with 3:51 left in regulation, the Syracuse football team got the pigskin back for the offense following a missed 45 yard field goal attempt by Rutger's San San Te.
Syracuse got the ball on their own 33 yard line. Sixty-seven yards between the Orangemen and the post season. With Alec Lemon inactive due to an arm injury, forgotten receiver Marcus Sales was back on the field, and making his presence known. On the final drive of the game, Sales grabbed two catches for 20 yards and Antwon Bailey provided 37 yards on the ground to help keep the chains moving for the Orangemen. Delone Carter chipped in roughly 10 yards on the drive, and Syracuse was set up 1st and 10 at the Rutgers 16 yard line. After three safe plays Doug Marrone called upon Ross Krautman to come on and try to give Syracuse the lead.
Just like he has done all season, Ross Krautman (out of Franklin Lakes, NJ) trotted onto the field with nothing but ice water in his veins. Ross Krautman, playing like a man possessed this season, drilled the 24 yard field goal to give Syracuse a 13-10 lead, and Syracuse fans everywhere were 1:09 away from seeing the unthinkable.
The defense followed the offense onto the field and held Rutgers to a turnover on downs to secure the win for the Orangemen. The win, Syracuse's fifth on the road this season, leads the nation, and gives Syracuse a perfect four road wins in four tries in the Big East. This is the first time Syracuse has ever won four Big East road games.
After the game senior punter Rob Long said it all. "It's awesome. We had tears of joy. We knew we did it as a team." Doug Marrone said after the game that "they're a team of great character. They trust in each other. They believe in each other."
For all the years of heartache and just truly ugly, ugly football under the tutelage of Greg Robinson, Doug Marrone has returned to Syracuse University and lead the Orangemen back to the post season in just two seasons. The prodigal son has returned to pull Syracuse out of the depths of football obscurity, out of the doldrums of irrelevance, and has returned the Orangemen not just into respectable competitors, but into victors as well.
Ryan Nassib finished the day completing 16 of 31 passing attempts for 214 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Nassib was sacked six times, however made the plays in the final minutes of the game to lead the Orangemen down the field and into scoring range. Marcus Sales, filling in for injured Alec Lemon, played unbelievably hauling in 5 catches for 73 yards to lead Syracuse, and Nick Provo added 4 catches for 60 yards. Antwon Bailey caught the lone touchdown pass and finished with 44 receiving yards to go along with 50 rushing yards (94 total yards on the day).
Bailey also had a fumble late in the first half, although it didn't end up costing the Orangemen. In fact, Syracuse turned the ball over three times in the first half, however they held the Scarlet Knights to just 3 first half points.
The loss drops the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to 4-5 on the year, and just 1-3 in the Big East. Rutgers ran for 216 yards, mainly out of the wildcat. One facet of the game not found on the stat sheet was the number of times Rutgers players stayed down after the play seemingly injured only to be seen moments later in perfect health and going right back into the game. Someone should look into how many extra time-outs Rutgers gets from those shenanigans, because it was happening all game. Particularly in the second half.
Syracuse has two home games remaining on their regular season schedule, before their long awaited trip to a bowl game. Saturday Syracuse will host Connecticut at 7PM and the following Saturday, the Orangemen will host former Big East foe Boston College in the regular season finale.
photo courtesy of syracuse.com