|Jeremi Wilkes and the Syracuse defense stole the show in the 14-13 win over Pittsburgh on Friday. (US Presswire)|
SYRACUSE WON. The Syracuse offense reached the end zone only once, but thanks to a fumble recovery touchdown and several crucial stops from the defense, the Orange held off Pittsburgh for a 14-13 win in the Carrier Dome on Friday night.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 25 of 33 passes for 319 yards but was sacked five times by the Orange and felt the pressure all game from the likes of nose tackle Jay Bromley and defensive end Brandon Sharpe.
The only offensive touchdown of the game from Syracuse was scored on its first possession, after the defense forced a three-and-out from the Panthers. The eight-play, 70-yard drive was finished with the jumbo "tank" formation, with 5-foot-10, 244-pound power back Adonis Ameen-Moore powering the ball left of center into the end zone. Later in the first quarter, Jeremi Wikes forced a Drew Carswell fumble that was recovered by Dyshawn Davis and taken 52 yards for a touchdown.
Thanks to the Syracuse defense, that was all the scoring it needed to win.
HOW SYRACUSE WON: The Orange defense delivered an inspired performance, holding Panthers' running back Ray Graham to just 57 yards on 24 attempts (2.4 yards per carry). Combined with the harassment of Sunseri, the Panthers finished with just 27 rushing yards. Sunseri was able to check down and complete plenty of short throws, but the pressure from Syracuse's defensive front and the swarming mentality of the secondary kept Pittsburgh from hitting a home-run touchdown play.
WHEN SYRACUSE WON: When Syracuse needed its most important yard -- on third-and-1 with less than three minutes remaining -- it went back into its "tank" package that got the Orange their only offensive touchdown. Ameen-Moore powered forward for the 2 yards, and then again for 5 yards as the Orange forced Paul Chryst to burn his final timeouts before one last first-down run to seal the game.
WHAT SYRACUSE WON: The Orange have been 1-8 since that dramatic win over West Virginia in 2011, with their only victory coming against Stony Brook earlier this season. The win gives them a fresh start for Big East play in 2012, and possibly an identity they can rally behind. QB Ryan Nassib has the experience to put up numbers, and the talent on the outside to make plays. But if they want to continue success in conference play, they will need more second-half production than they got Friday. But a win is a win, and the Orange will be thankful for every one they get.
WHAT PITTSBURGH LOST: Pittsburgh got inside the Syracuse 30-yard line twice in the fourth quarter needing any score to take the lead. Both drives were moved back out of field-goal range thanks to a one-two punch of penalties and sacks. In other words, more of the same similar woes for Pittsburgh fans. The inconsistency from this team is predictable because of the situation, but disappointing when you know how much talent is on both sides of the ball.
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