Saturday afternoon, the Syracuse defense was mostly handled by the visitors from Toledo, but turned in a game-turning play to help snare a 33-30 overtime victory at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (3-1) gave up 438 yards on the day, but senior cornerback Kevyn Scott picked off a pass in the end zone on the first play of the overtime session to thwart the efforts of the Rockets (1-3). SU immediately took advantage of the turnover and kicked the game-winning field goal.
The Syracuse kicking game, however, was not without controversy. Following the game, the Big East conference issued a statement that the extra point by the Orange following their last score in regulation was actually missed, but the officials ruled the kick was good both live and after replay review. The point gave SU a 30-27 lead at the time.
As has been Syracuse’s habit most of the season, the team started slowly, giving up the first ten points of the game. After the Rockets’ touchdown gave them a double-figure lead, the Orange struck back with a 55-yard drive that lasted only five plays. SU cashed in when Ryan Nassib floated a pass to Nick Provo for a 25-yard touchdown. Ross Krautman added the extra point to slice the deficit to 10-7 a minute into the second quarter. Syracuse knotted the score at ten a side on their next possession after a 30-yard drive ended in a 33-yard field goal by Krautman with just under nine minutes on the clock. The Orange made it three consecutive scoring possessions on their next drive, moving 55 yards in 12 plays before Krautman banged home a 31-yard field goal for a 13-10 lead with just over a minutes remaining. Toledo responded, though, getting a 52-yard field goal as the clock expired to send the game to half at 13-13.
SU punted twice to start the third quarter and the Rockets made them pay after the second one, taking a 20-13 lead with under five minutes left in the session. Once again, the Orange responded, this time marching 58 yards in four plays for the tying touchdown. Jarrod West caught his first career pass for the Orange, picking up 39 yards, then Antwon Bailey burst into the end zone on a 20-yard run. Krautman’s conversion made it 20-20. The two teams combined for three punts, but Syracuse broke the tie when Krautman’s third field goal of the day, this one from 29 yards, capped a 30-yard drive and gave the hosts a 23-20 lead. The Rockets quickly regained the lead, scoring a touchdown four plays later to go up 27-23. Two possessions later, SU marched 71 yards in ten plays, scoring when Nassib floated an 18-yard pass to Alec Lemon for a touchdown. Krautman‘s extra point kick was ruled good, then survived a replay review in spite of looking like it went wide left, for a 30-27 Orange lead. The Rockets were not done, getting a chip shot field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime at 30-30.
Syracuse won the coin toss to start overtime and opted to play defense first and play defense they did. On the first play for the Rockets, Kevyn Scott made a leaping interception in the end zone to dramatically halt Toledo’s possession. Given a golden opportunity, SU played it safe on offense, running six times to set up a 27-yard field goal attempt for Krautman. Krautman’s kick was true and the Orange emerged with a 33-30 victory.
The efficient Ryan Nassib turned in another strong effort. Nassib found nine different receivers on the day as he completed 16 passes in 24 attempts, gaining 213 yards and completing a couple scoring tosses. SU had their most effective running game of the season, netting 153 yards on the ground. Antwon Bailey passed the century mark for the third time in his career, gaining 114 yards on a career-high 28 carries, including a score, and Prince-Tyson Gulley provided a jolt to the offense, piling up 66 yards on ten attempts. Van Chew and Nick Provo each caught three passes and both extended their personal consecutive games with a catch streak to 17 games. Chew also surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards in the game.
For the second consecutive game, Phillip Thomas led the Syracuse defense with double figures in tackles, collecting ten stops on the day. Freshman linebacker Cameron Lynch was credited with the lone SU sack as part of his eight tackles and Kevyn Scott’s interception was the lone turnover forced by the Orange.
Syracuse will open Big East play on Saturday when they host Rutgers. Head coach Doug Marrone will be looking to extend his record to 3-0 against the Scarlet Knights (2-1). The game will get underway at 9:00am Pacific and be available on television through pay-per-view as well as online at ESPN3.com.