CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Jordan Ellis scored on a 3-yard run in the third overtime and Virginia rallied to beat Syracuse 44-38 Saturday night, ending the Cavaliers' two-game losing streak.
Ellis carried on three consecutive plays against an exhausted Orange defense, which was on the field for the last 6:52 of regulation as Virginia (2-4, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) drove for the tying field goal.
Ellis' runs covered 3 yards, minus-1 yard and then 3 yards again for the clinching score.
The Orange (3-3, 1-1) lost their third straight, failing to score in the third overtime after Eric Dungey was sacked for a 6-yard loss on third-and-10 and Cole Murphy missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
The second overtime went quickly. Virginia scored in three plays, with Taquan Mizzell running the last 13 yards for the touchdown. Syracuse, starting at the 12 because of a Virginia penalty, needed just one play as Dungey rolled right and found Steve Ishmael just inside the right pylon.
Syracuse got the ball first in overtime and needed just five plays, with Dungey hitting Ervin Phillips with a 7-yard touchdown pass. A targeting foul against Zach Bradshaw on the play forced Virginia to start its drive at the 40, and on third down, Matt Johns rolled right and hit Canaan Severin for 36 yards and the tying touchdown.
Virginia trailed most of the game, but got the ball with 6:52 left in regulation and used it all to tie it. The drive covered 88 yards in 19 plays, was highlighted by Johns' 11-yard pass to Mizzell on fourth-and-3 from near midfield and ended with Frye's 25-yard field goal.
Trailing 14-7 with the momentum on Virginia's side, the Orange turned to a trick play to get it back. It came out of a punt formation on a fourth-and-4 from the Syracuse 43 when punter Riley Dixon took two steps sideways as if to execute a rugby-style kick, then tucked the ball and ran for 15 yards. Five plays later, Jordan Fredericks scored from the one, pulling the Orange even at 14 with just 62 seconds left in the half.
Starting at its 20, Johns hit Mizzell for 19 yards on the next play, threw two incompletions and then had an attempted screen pass tipped at the line and intercepted by Qaadir Sheppard, who returned it to the Cavaliers' 26 with 32 seconds left.
On the next play, Dungey dropped back, saw the middle of the field wide open and took off. He didn't meet a defender until inside the 5 and, after hurdling safety Quin Blanding, fell into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Orange drove 75 yards in 13 plays in the third quarter to set up Murphy's 22-yard field goal.
Virginia scored two touchdowns in a span of four plays to go ahead 14-7.
Mizzell's 11-yard run capped a 75-yard drive, and three plays later, Dungey was hit as he prepared to throw. The ball traveled several yards in the air, and Wilfred Wahee scooped it up and returned it 22 yards.
The officials signaled a touchdown, and it stood when replays couldn't conclusively prove otherwise.
Mizzell also had a hand in Syracuse's first touchdown. After catching a screen pass, he was hit by Donnie Simmons and fumbled, the ball bouncing to Antwan Cordy, who sprinted 44 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.
The Orange lead could have been larger, but after driving to a first down at the Cavaliers' 2 in the opening quarter, a botched snap cost them 7 yards, and Virginia stuffed third- and fourth-down runs from the 1.