Saturday night in New Orleans, Syracuse started their game at Tulane as if “The Big Easy” would be the theme, but faltered after a hot start and needed a field goal on the final play of the contest to pull out a 37-34 victory. The Orange (4-2) got their offense into peak form early, taking two different 17-point leads in the second quarter, but allowed the Green Wave (2-4) back into the game before halftime. SU’s defense was susceptible to the big play, allowing five plays that covered over 35 yards, including three touchdowns of at least 40 yards.
Syracuse permitted Tulane a touchdown on their opening possession, but Jeremiah Kobena responded by taking the ensuing kickoff 79 yards down to the Green Wave five-yard-line. One play later, Antwon Bailey carried the ball into the end zone and Ross Krautman’s extra point made it 7-7 with less than four minutes off the clock. The SU defense forced a punt and the offense remained in gear, moving 69 yards in 14 plays before settling for Krautman’s 29-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead. After another Tulane punt, the Orange scored again, this time closing an eight-play, 62-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring toss when Ryan Nassib floated a pass to Dorian Graham, who secured his first career touchdown with an over-the-shoulder catch. Krautman’s extra point put Syracuse up 17-7 less than three minutes into the second quarter. Shortly after, the SU defense notched a turnover when Dyshawn Davis pounced on a botched lateral pass at the Green Wave 32 for a fumble recovery. Four plays later, Nassib accounted for his second touchdown of the night, cruising into the end zone from four yards out. Krautman tacked on the conversion for a 24-7 lead with just over nine minutes left in the half. The Orange defense gave the offense another possession when Dan Vaughan forced a fumble and Marquis Spruill pounced on it. The SU offense could not move the ball, however, and Tulane took advantage by tallying a touchdown to make it a 24-14 game. Syracuse took back their 17-point lead on their next chance, moving 68 yards in seven plays and scoring when Nassib connected again with Graham, this time on a one-yard touchdown pass. Krautman’s extra point made it 31-14. Tulane responded, though, posting a touchdown followed by a field goal on the final play of the half to send the game into the break with the Orange on top, 31-24.
Tulane’s second opportunity of the third quarter led to the first points of the second half on a field goal, bringing them within 31-27 with over four minutes left. The Orange offense sputtered through the third quarter and into the fourth, logging four consecutive possessions without a first down, but came to life following a missed Tulane field goal in the final period. SU ground out 58 yards in a dozen plays before Krautman connected from 32 yards out for three more points and a 34-27 lead with 4:19 to play. Three plays later, however, the Green Wave completed a long touchdown pass and tied the game at 34. Taking over with 2:53 on the clock, Syracuse methodically moved down the field, gaining 66 yards in 12 plays to reach the Green Wave four-yard-line. Krautman knocked through a 21-yard field goal on the final play and the Orange escaped with the victory.
Ryan Nassib had a spotty performance, connecting on 19-of-34 passes for 186 yards and a pair of scores. For the third straight game, Antwon Bailey surpassed the 100-yard mark, turning 24 carries into 111 yards and a touchdown. Dorian Graham paced the SU receivers with four catches (a mark matched by Bailey) for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Phillip Thomas led the Orange defense with 13 tackles. Dan Vaughan was credited with a forced fumble and Dyshawn Davis and Marquis Spruill each recovered a fumble.
Syracuse has a week off before they resume their march through the rest of Big East play on Friday, October 21 when they welcome #13 West Virginia to the Carrier Dome. The high-powered Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0), who average over 500 yards on offense per game, also have a bye week to prepare to avenge their 13-10 home loss to the Orange last year. The game will get underway at 5:00pm Pacific and the game will be televised by ESPN, as well as streamed online at ESPN3.
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