Big East Report

TEMPLE The Owls have lost big and lost close in recent seasons, but few of the many defeats came down as heartbreaking as Saturday's 24-23 loss to Virginia Tech. After rallying from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, the Owls lost a chance to extend the game when Jared Davis missed the extra point after Temple scored a touchdown in overtime. Davis had tied the game with a 37-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in regulation.

Temple actually had a chance to win in regulation after FS Jonathan McPhee intercepted Bryan Randall's pass with eight seconds left, but after QB Walter Washington's long pass fell incomplete in the end zone, Davis missed a 50-yard field goal as time ran out.

In the overtime, Virginia Tech took the lead on Randall's 23-yard touchdown run. Temple matched the touchdown when Washington completed a 22-yard scoring strike to WR Zamir Cobb, but failed to convert the extra point.

Temple played Tech on even terms through the first half but went to the locker room down 3-0 after failing to cash in on a couple of early opportunities. The Owls failed to convert on a fourth-and-3 from the Tech 39-yard line on the first series, and later Cobb couldn't corral a long pass at the Tech 5-yard line.

The Owls gave up two touchdowns to Tech in the second half before Washington got the Owls on the board with a 13-yard scoring pass to RB Umar Ferguson with 10:52 left, and, after the defense forced another punt, the Owls responded with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Ferguson's 1-yard TD run.

The Owls again responded defensively and forced a three-and-out before driving for the tying field goal. Along the way, Washington converted a fourth-and-9 with a 30-yard pass to WR Phil Goodman.

Washington, in his third career start since taking over Mike McGann (elbow), rallied the Owls from a 17-0 deficit to a 17-17 tie at the end of regulation by passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns (15-of-30) and leading his team in rushing with 151 yards on 26 attempts. He threw two touchdown passes, including one in overtime. The Owls need to start protecting him more, as he was sacked five times.

The Owls came up with a solid running attack against Virginia Tech, netting 237 yards on the ground and averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Besides Washington's 151 yards rushing, Umar Ferguson took over for injured Makonnen Fenton and the redshirt freshman responded with 73 yards on 15 rushes. He scored one touchdown and also caught two passes for 21 more yards. Fenton's injury is as yet undisclosed.

Temple still has two more shots to avoid a winless Big East season. Now 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the conference, the Owls are host to Pittsburgh on Saturday and go to West Virginia on Nov. 29.

"I felt like we were playing hard and battling every play. That's what these kids do, and that's why I'm proud to be associated with them." -- Coach Bobby Wallace, after the overtime loss to Virginia Tech.

BOSTON COLLEGE

Whether a fifth consecutive postseason bid will come to Boston College remains in doubt, but the Eagles at least have given themselves a shot. Their 35-25 comeback victory over Rutgers on Saturday gave them the sixth victory needed to become bowl eligible.

RB Derrick Knight called the victory "huge" after playing a major role by rushing for 224 yards and scoring three touchdowns. The Eagles needed every one of his yards and scores to overcome early mistakes that had them in a 12-0 hole against the Knights. The senior carried 27 times for a whopping 224 yards with three touchdowns. The revived Eagles running game was even more effective with the defense holding the Knights to a net 101 yards rushing for the day.

Junior college transfer QB Paul Peterson also played a key role in the comeback by going 17-for-26 for 244 yards in his first start of the season. He had no interceptions and also threw for a two-point conversion. Defensive back-turned-wide receiver Larry Lester made several key plays. He caught a 17-yard touchdown pass with under six minutes to play to put BC ahead for the first time and had a 48-yard reception earlier on a third-and-8 situation in the same drive. Overall, Lester had three catches for 87 yards.

Even though the final margin was 10 points, the Eagles had to sweat out a potential tying field goal with 1:32 left. They retained a 28-25 lead after Rutgers' Ryan Sands missed from 43 yards, then added to their final cushion when Knight ripped off 75 yards on three running plays, including a 60-yard sprint on second down and a 15-yard TD run with 1:06 to go.

One area the team still needs to work on is special teams. The ST units made some costly mistakes in the first half. PK Mike Fassel, coming in for Sandro Sciortina, had an extra point blocked. The Eagles then gave up a touchdown on an 81-yard kickoff return by Rutgers' Nate Jones.

Besides Sciortina, who left the game with a groin injury, RG Chris Snee was hurt on the game's first play and was out the rest of the day. He likely will miss the season finale at Virginia Tech.

Coach Tom O'Brien credited his team with the "greatest gut-check I have been around" after the victory, which snapped a two-game BC losing streak. Now 6-5 overall and 2-4 in Big East play, the Eagles will close out the season Saturday at Virginia Tech. With six teams in contention for the Big East's five bowl spots, the Eagles might need a seventh victory to secure a postseason appearance.

Said O'Brien of the victory, "We talked at halftime and nobody was fazed by what went on in the first half. We knew that if we just came out and played our game in the second half that we'd be fine."

MIAMI

Defense and special teams carried Miami into the fourth quarter Saturday, and then the Hurricanes got just enough out of their offense to defeat Syracuse 17-10 and end a two-game skid.

RB Tyrone Moss gave the running game a much-needed lift in the fourth quarter, which started with Syracuse clinging to a 10-7 lead that came courtesy of two Miami turnovers. The freshman basically was the difference in the game for the Hurricanes offensively, rushing 18 times for a game-high 91 yards (89 in the second half).

After freshman Jon Peattie kicked a 44-yard field goal into the wind to tie the game at 10, the Hurricanes virtually turned their offense over to Moss. Taking over at the Syracuse 48-yard line on the ensuing series, the Hurricanes were facing first-and-10 at the 35 when Moss broke off a 26-yard power run to the 9-yard line. Then on the next play Moss ran over a tackler at the 5 and stretched out across the goal line for the deciding touchdown.

"My instincts told me to keep driving no matter what," said Moss, who had 51 of his 91 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. He also registered Miami's first rushing touchdown since he scored from nine yards out in the fourth quarter against Temple on Oct. 18.

With QB Derrick Crudup getting his first career start, the Hurricanes played conservatively most of the day. Crudup did throw a 45-yard touchdown pass to WR Ryan Moore on a busted coverage in the first quarter, but he also threw an interception and lost a fumbled snap. Syracuse took advantage of those two turnovers for a field goal and a 45-yard touchdown drive.

Other than that, the Orangemen had little success against the Miami defense. The Hurricanes limited them to 25 plays for 62 yards in the second half with eight of those coming on the final drive. The Orangemen netted only 192 yards offense for the game with 10 of their points coming after turnovers.

SS Maurice Sikes batted away Syracuse's final pass in the end zone to preserve the victory. The senior doesn't get the attention of his more celebrated teammates, but he had a solid game in the win with his first interception of the season and three tackles - one for minus-6 yards.

Special teams also performed well, especially on punt coverages, until near the end of the game when Syracuse had a 29-yard kickoff return and also partially blocked a Miami punt, giving them the ball at the Miami 45 with 2:58 to go. Up till that point, Miami's special teams had kept the Orangemen backed up with excellent kick coverage.

"A win was something we desperately needed," said coach Larry Coker. "We somehow found a way to lose the last couple of weeks, but we found a way to win today."

The victory kept alive Miami's hopes for a Big East title. If they beat Rutgers on Saturday, the Hurricanes, 8-2 overall and 4-1 in the league, will go to Pittsburgh on Nov. 29 needing to win for the title. They currently are tied with the Panthers and West Virginia for the top spot.

The Canes will be hoping to get some people healthy for the game. OG Vernon Carey (ankle) and WR Roscoe Parrish (knee) both sat out the game. DTs Orien Harris (knee) and Santonio Thomas (shoulder) sat out the game and are likely to miss the Rutgers game. FS Sean Taylor (shoulder) missed some plays in the second quarter but played most of the second half, even on the punt return team.

"I think I played well today, but as a competitor, you always want to do better. I could have played better, but all I really care about is getting the win. That's all that really matters." -- QB Derrick Crudup, after making his first college start in the 17-10 victory over Syracuse.

RUTGERS

Rutgers keeps getting closer, but that just makes the losing all that more frustrating.

After jumping in front of Boston College 12-0 and 15-6 on Saturday, the Knights couldn't hold onto the advantage and lost 35-25.

The defeat effectively ended their hopes of finishing at .500. The Knights, 4-6 overall and 1-4 in Big East play, must go to Miami on Saturday before ending the season at home against Syracuse.

"It's what I call a step along the road, a step in the process," said coach Greg Schiano, whose Knights were coming off a 38-31 loss at Connecticut the week before. "You can't go from being lousy to being the best. You go from being lousy to a little bit better to competitive."

After losing the early advantage, established when QB Ryan Hart hooked up with WR Tres Moses for a 65-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game, the Knights lost an opportunity to tie the game with 1:32 left when Ryan Sands missed a 43-yard field goal.

BC took over and scored the clinching touchdown in three running plays.

"I don't think we tackled particularly well today," said Schiano, whose defense surrendered 215 yards to the visitors on the ground.

Senior DE Raheem Orr, however, continued his solid season, sacking Boston College QB Paul Peterson in the end zone for a safety and recording a stop for negative yardage among his seven tackles. He now has a Big East-best 18 tackles for negative yardage.

One encouraging note: Though they fumbled four times, the Knights recovered all four and had no interceptions against the Eagles. It's the first time since the season-opening victory over Buffalo the Knights haven't had a turnover.

Hart moved to second place on Rutgers' single-season passing list after going 18-for-24 for 234 yards against Boston College. The sophomore QB has thrown for 2,396 yards this season, 140 shy of the record held by Scott Erney.

While the passing game improves as Hart gains experience, the running game suffers because of the injuries to people like TB Justise Hairston (knee). Despite the efforts of RB Brian Leonard (32 carries, 99 yards), the Knights netted only 101 yards on the ground. Saturday's was the third straight game that Hairston has sat out.

Besides Hairston, WR Shawn Tucker will be questionable for Saturday also, after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment you forget where we're coming from. We were literally one of the worst football teams in the country. We were losing games 42-0 and worse. This football team now has worked themselves into being a legitimate Division I football team that can win any time it steps onto the field. We have to learn how to do that now, " said Schiano, after watching his team lead through three quarters of the game.

SYRACUSE

Things were pretty much going according to plan for the Orangemen for nearly three quarters at Miami on Saturday. They held a lead, albeit only by a field goal, going into the fourth quarter, and their defense was keeping the Hurricanes' offense in check.

But their inability to mount any kind of offensive threat of their own eventually cost the Orangemen, who wilted and lost 17-10 in what was a rare close game between the schools.

The Orangemen couldn't contain Miami freshman RB Tyrone Moss at the end. Moss accounted for 51 of his 91 yards rushing in the final quarter, including consecutive runs of 26 and 9 yards for the decisive touchdown. Syracuse had a couple of chances after that, the last ending when QB R.J. Anderson's fourth-down pass for WR Johnnie Morant was knocked away in the end zone.

"I think a big factor in the game was the yardage Moss got," coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "He's a good back. The problem is, we didn't even know about him."

Moss is a true freshman who had barely played in Miami's previous week's loss to Tennessee.

Syracuse controlled things early, outrushing Miami 77-42 in the first half with RB Walter Reyes accounting for 56 of that total. Had it not been for a defensive gaffe that left Miami WR Ryan Moore wide open for a 45-yard touchdown pass, the Orangemen easily could have gone to the locker room ahead 10-0 at halftime.

"The game unfolded just like we wanted it to in the sense we wanted to get into the fourth quarter with a chance," assistant head coach George DeLeone said.

"Where it didn't unfold the way we wanted, where it broke down, was the negative plays. We couldn't run with the same effectiveness we had early to keep their offense off the field."

The game was a far cry from the way the series has typically gone. Syracuse last won at Miami in 1997 by a 33-13 count and followed that with a 66-13 rout of the Hurricanes in the Carrier Dome in 1998. In the four games since then, the Hurricanes had outscored the Orangemen 179-20.

Reyes' effort put him over the 1,000-yard mark rushing for the season, logging 24 carries for 89 yards. He also scored the Orangemen's only touchdown and caught three passes for 19 yards. He has 1,055 yards rushing through nine games.

Syracuse's erratic passing game helped Miami put pressure on the running game in the second half. QB R.J. Anderson was 12-for-21 passing for only 85 yards and had an interception. He overthrew WR Jared Jones on a deep pass for a possible touchdown in the first half.

The defense performed well enough to win even though the inability of the offense to move the ball in the second half took a toll. The Orangemen surrendered 170 yards rushing but held Miami to only 80 yards passing, coming up with an interception, two fumble recoveries and three sacks.

On special teams, redshirt freshman P Brendan Carney had an outstanding day, averaging a booming 50.4 yards on seven punts. He kicked two inside the 20-yard line. He also had one blocked, however, but Miami failed to cash in with any points.

"I think the first year in the conference we lost 16-10 in 1992 and were throwing in the end zone at the end," Pasqualoni said. "Now this year in the last game in the Big East we were down 17-10 and throwing in the end zone for the tie at the end."

Miami is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

The loss left Syracuse at 2-3 in the conference and 5-4 overall. The Orangemen need one more victory in their final three games to become bowl eligible. They are host to West Virginia on Saturday, go to Rutgers on Nov. 29, then finish at home against Notre Dame on Dec. 6.

"We had a tremendous effort by our defense. They laid it on the line. Our offense fought their tails off, and we had a chance to win at the end. We just didn't do enough to win field position. We couldn't get the offense on track to score. It hurts to come this close and lose." -- Assistant head coach and offensive coordinator George DeLeone.

VIRGINIA TECH

With parity in college football, sometimes teams have to be happy with one-point victories. Case in point: Virginia Tech.

The Hokies escaped an embarrassing loss to a one-win Temple team Saturday when the Owls failed to convert an extra point after scoring a touchdown in overtime. The Hokies won 24-23 after blowing a 17-point fourth-quarter lead.

"I worried about this game all week," said coach Frank Beamer, whose Hokies were coming off a loss at Pittsburgh that virtually eliminated them from the Big East title race.

Though they struggled early and led only 3-0 at halftime, the Hokies seemed to have things in command when they took a 17-0 lead early in the fourth quarter. But then Temple QB Walter Washington led the Owls to a touchdown with 10:52 left, and the Hokies went dead offensively.

The Owls scored 10 more points to tie it and had a shot at the victory in regulation when QB Bryan Randall was picked off in the closing seconds. But Temple PK Jared Davis missed from 50 yards as time ran out.

Randall then scored on a 23-yard run in Tech's first overtime possession, and Carter Warley added what would become the decisive extra point. Though Tech gave up a touchdown on a 22-yard pass, the Hokies won when Jared Davis missed the tying extra point.

"I give Temple credit," Beamer said. "They didn't play like a team that had won just one game."

The Hokies continue to pound foes with their running game. They ran for 209 yards against Temple, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. RB Kevin Jones, of course, accounted for the bulk of that with 150 yards on the ground, giving him 515 yards over the past three games. For the season, Jones has 1,254 yards for the season, with a league-best average of 125.4 per game, and continues his Heisman campaign.

On the other side of the coin, the Hokies gave up 237 yards rushing to a Temple team that was averaging a Big East-worst 103.8 yards per game on the ground. They couldn't handle Washington, who ran for 151 yards.

Were it not for Jones' performance, Randall might have gotten the game ball. The junior, who has been on the bench more than the field the last couple of games, was 11-for-19 passing for 127 yards (one touchdown, one interception) and ran for 46 more, including a 23-yard touchdown run in overtime.

Tech improved to 8-2 on the season and 4-2 in the Big East. The Hokies are a half-game back of Miami, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the league race and retain mathematical, but very slim, hopes of getting a share of the title. The Hokies finish conference play at Syracuse on Saturday and end the regular season Nov. 29 at intrastate rival Virginia.

After the game, a relieved Beamer said, "Thank goodness we got out of here with a win."

WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia delivered a message Saturday night to those who are slow to realize the Mountaineers are for real, pounding Pittsburgh 52-31, handing the Panthers their first conference defeat and putting themselves into position for their second Big East title.

With a 4-1 league record, the Mountaineers need victories over Syracuse and Temple in their remaining games, coupled with a Miami loss, to add to the title they won in 1993.

They have won five in a row since starting the season 1-4. Their last loss was the 22-20 last-second setback in the Orange Bowl at Miami.

"We've come a long way in a month in a half," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We still have a long way to go though. This was a total team effort, and I'm very proud of our team."

The Mountaineers simply took it to the Panthers after falling behind 24-17 in the second quarter. After getting a tying touchdown on WR John Pennington's spectacular end-zone grab with 31 seconds left in the first half, the Mountaineers overpowered the Panthers with their running game to run off 28 unanswered points.

RB Quincy Wilson was the big man for the night, rushing 34 times for 208 yards and four touchdowns, three of them in the second half.

The Mountaineers churned out 307 yards on the ground with RB Kay-Jay Harris backing up Wilson's 208 yards with a 12-carry, 43-yard effort. QB Rasheed Marshall also netted 43 yards on just eight carries.

Marshall was 14-for-23 passing for 216 yards (two touchdowns, one interception). Other heroes included WR John Pennington, whose first collegiate touchdown reception tied the score just before halftime, and LB Grant Wiley, whose end-zone interception kept Pittsburgh from scoring on the opening drive of the second half. CB-KR Adam "Pac-Man" Jones continues to give the Mountaineers a lift whether it is returning kicks or on defense. He returned two kickoffs for 72 yards and had a 12-yard punt return.

If one had to find fault with the Mountaineers' performance, it would be with the special teams, especially the kick coverage units, which gave up good field position early on against Pittsburgh. The Panthers' Terrell Allen had six kickoff returns for 187 yards, better than 30 yards per attempt.

"Our defensive staff did a good job at the half of making adjustments with different coverages and blitz packages. They did a good job of regrouping at the half and helping to slow down their passing game." -- Coach Rodriguez.

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