Syracuse 41, Rutgers 31
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Walter Reyes rushed for 237 yards and two touchdowns, including the decisive score with 2:24 left, and Syracuse beat Rutgers 41-31 Saturday in the Big East opener for both teams.
It was the ninth straight win for Syracuse (3-2) over Rutgers (2-2) in the Carrier Dome and provided embattled Orange coach Paul Pasqualoni somewhat of a reprieve.
Rutgers had won only three of its previous 32 conference games entering the contest, but two of those wins, including 24-7 last year, came against Syracuse. Pasqualoni has been under fire for those losses and others in games his team was heavily favored to win.
With time winding down, it appeared the Scarlet Knights might make it two in a row. Ryan Hart hit Chris Baker for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 3:58 left to give Rutgers a 31-27 lead, and after Reyes fumbled the ball away on the next play from scrimmage many fans began heading for the exits.
But the Syracuse defense held and Jeremy Ito missed a 43-yard field goal to give the Orange new life.
It didn’t take long to capitalize. Reyes, who passed Larry Csonka for second on the Syracuse rushing list with 3,150 yards, scored on a 21-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive that lasted just 63 seconds and gave the Orange a 34-31 lead. Joe Morris holds the school record of 4,299 yards.
Hart completed a long pass to tight end Clark Harris near midfield on a fourth-and-16 play on Rutgers’ ensuing series, but offensive tackle Jeremy Zuttah was called for holding.
The Orange took over on downs and Damien Rhodes, who finished with 102 yards on 10 carries, scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run with 62 seconds left.
Hart finished 29-of-49 for 311 yards. Tres Moses had 10 catches for 109 yards, Baker had five for 101 and Harris had five for 51, including two for touchdowns.
Syracuse’s Perry Patterson was shaky in his first Carrier Dome start, going 11-of-25 for 131 yards and two interceptions after a solid game last week against No. 12 Virginia.
Reyes, who also had a pair of 62-yard runs, scored on a 23-yard run late in the third quarter to put Syracuse ahead 20-17, and fullback Greg Hanaoian caught a 4-yard scoring pass in the fourth.
Rutgers was unable to overcome the absence of star running back Brian Leonard. Leonard, who is averaging more than 140 yards overall per game, or 39 percent of the offense, has a bruised thigh.