BRONX, NY -- West Virginia came into its Pinstripe Bowl matchup against Syracuse ranked 120th and next to last among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in pass defense. So it would not have been a surprise had Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib done plenty of damage through the air.
However, on a day when Mother Nature enveloped Yankee Stadium in a blanket of snow, it was the Syracuse ground game that led the charge in a 38-14 victory over the Mountaineers.
Junior Prince-Tyson Gulley ran for 215 yards and scored two of his three touchdowns on the ground in a game that marked the first time he reached the century mark in rushing in his career. Fellow junior Jerome Smith added a career-high 158 yards.
Tyson-Gulley scored on consecutive third-quarter possessions for the Orange, the first of which was a 67-yard touchdown run that gave Syracuse a 26-7 lead with 6:52 remaining in the period.
Needing a quick answer to that score to get back into the game, West Virginia took only four plays and 71 seconds to cut the deficit to 26-14. The drive was capped when quarterback Geno Smith looked left and found Stedman Bailey, who had broken free from fallen corner Brandon Reddish, for a 29-yard touchdown. It was Bailey's second touchdown reception of the game and 25th of the season, which leads the nation.
The Orange offense went back to work on the ensuing possession, one that ended when Tyson-Gulley caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nassib. The score restored the 19-point margin at 33-14 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
After leading 12-7 at the half, Syracuse marched 80 yards on 10 plays to take a 19-7 lead on the opening drive of the second half. Nassib spotted tight end Beckett Wales in the back of the end zone. The pass was deflected by linebacker Isaiah Bruce and into the waiting hands of Wales. It was the start of a 23-point third quarter for the Orange.
The schools renewed acquaintances after meeting in the regular season for 55 consecutive years through 2011; the last 21 games were played as Big East rivals. West Virginia joined the Big 12 for this season and Syracuse was playing its final game as a Big East member before moving to the ACC next year.
NOTES: Syracuse improved its all-time bowl mark to 14-9 while West Virginia dropped to 14-18. ... Syracuse quarterback Charley Loeb came on for one play in the second quarter when Ryan Nassib was shaken up after being sacked. On his first pass since 2010, Loeb threw a screen to Prince Tyson-Gulley that turned into a nine-yard gain. ... Game-time temperature was 34 degrees with a wind chill of 26 and either snow or a freezing mix fell throughout the game. ... There were 41,203 tickets sold and 39,098 came through the turnstiles. Yankee Stadium's capacity for football is 42,000. ... Prior to the game there was a moment of silence for the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14. The names of each of the deceased appeared on the Jumbotron.