The final stats may not have been overly impressive for Adonis Ameen-Moore.
Five rushes. 14 yards.
But each of those rushes were crucial in propelling Syracuse to a 14-13 win over Pittsburgh on Friday night, ending Syracuse’s eight game losing streak against FBS opponents.
One of those rushes was in the first quarter, when Ameen-Moore barreled his way through on a one-yard carry on SU’s new goal line package. It was the same scenario that Syracuse had struggled with against Minnesota and Stony Brook, but this time, the Orange and Ameen-Moore had no problems in short yardage.
“I mean, as far as a running back it’s fun when you can go and score a touchdown,” Ameen-Moore said. “I haven’t scored a touchdown since the 12th grade.”
But Ameen-Moore’s night was more than just the touchdown.
With the Orange clinging to a one point lead with 4:52 left, Syracuse needed to run the clock. The Orange called 10 consecutive run plays with Ameen-Moore leading the way.
The bruising back, who hadn’t recorded a rush this season prior to Friday, picked up a pair of first downs on the team’s final drive—both on third and short situations. Though the Orange finished 5 for 14 on third downs, three of them came in the last five minutes.
“I am just glad Coach (Doug) Marrone gave me the chance for the return,” Ameen-Moore said, “and trusted me to get the first down and get the job done.”
Marrone’s not the only one who trusts Ameen-Moore.
“I think the offensive coaches did a very good job from a personnel standpoint,” Marrone said. “They were very pleased with Adonis (Ameen-Moore) and he worked extremely hard to be in that position. It’s a very important position and it’s one where you have to have a high level of trust. The coaches have that and the players have that in Adonis.”
Now, the Orange have another solid option in a backfield that out-gained the Panthers 120-27.
“I mean when it came down to it in the end we brought that goal line package to the field to eat up some clock,” quarterback Ryan Nassib said. “It won the game for us. We had a couple weeks to see what we liked and to see what we’re good at so it’s definitely going to be a helpful package for us.”