Michael Acchione became the most unlikely of heroes in a clutch situation.
Acchione, a senior walk-on receiver, caught the game-winning score in Syracuse’s 21-14 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday.
“It is a dream come true,” Acchione said. “It has been my dream my whole life.”
Syracuse had the ball on the URI 12-yard line with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 14. Quarterback Ryan Nassib took the snap, rolled right, and found Acchione racing toward the sideline.
Nassib fired a strike to Acchione, putting the Orange ahead for good, and giving Acchione a memory of a lifetime.
“I’m glad that he scored the touchdown because he has been working hard ever since I was a freshman,” Nassib said. “Every day in practice he has been working hard.”
Said Acchione: “Coming from a small town, you have a lot of expectations. The coaches always had my back. The players always motivate me to get better every day. When my time came, I made the most of it.”
Some of those expectations also come from Acchione’s family. Acchione’s father, Garry, played defensive back for SU from 1978 to 1981.
Acchione played in the shadow of SU at Solvay High School where he was selected as an All-CNY defensive back, and also had 86 receptions for 1,304 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career.
But it was the one reception Acchione had on Saturday that he’ll remember the most.
“Words do not really describe it,” Acchione said. “Coach Doug Marrone gave me a great opportunity here. I have thanked him a thousand times already. It is just overwhelming how much support you get from players and coaches.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this article.