Though Syracuse's defense held Miami (8-2, 4-1 Big East) to just seven points in the first half, Miami mustered 10 points in the second half, good enough to squeak past the Orangemen (5-4, 2-3), 17-10.
"I feel really bad for the kids," Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "I thought they played well and hard. They gave what they had."
Apparently, what they had wasn't enough.
The Orangemen were penalized 11 times for 75 yards, none bigger than tackle Kevin Sampson's false start with the Orangemen facing a third and 10 deep in Miami territory, as Syracuse's bid to upset Miami failed.
"Mistakes breed mistakes," Pasqualoni said. "We haven't been a team that has been penalized a lot."
After Miami freshman Tyrone Moss barreled in from 9 yards out to give Miami a 17-10 lead, Syracuse marched down to the Miami 22-yard line with two minutes remaining. The Orangemen gained little on the first two plays, and then were knocked back 5 yards by Sampson's penalty.
Walter Reyes then caught a 7-yard pass to create a fourth and 8 situation, but Syracuse couldn't convert, as Miami blitzed R.J. Anderson, forcing him to loft a ball into the endzone at Johnnie Morant, who didn't stand a chance against safety Maurice Sikes.
"We didn't get the protection and Robin threw it prematurely," Pasqualoni said. "We thought we had a good shot."
Miami led 7-3 after Derrick Cruddup threw a 45-yard score to Ryan Moore. But the Orangemen took a 10-7 lead to halftime, after Reyes punched the ball in from two yards out. Reyes was relatively effective with the ball, rushing for 89 yards on 24 attempts, considering that Anderson was abysmal, throwing for just 85 yards and an interception.
Still, Syracuse held a lead going into half, partly because the Syracuse offense was on the field for three more minutes than Miami's, partly because of Miami's two first half turnovers, a fumble by Cruddup and an interception by Rich Scanlon led to Syracuse's 10 points.
That all changed in the second half, when the Orangemen went three-and-out twice and were pinned deep in their own territory three times.
"We couldn't consistently stay on the field in the second half," Pasqualoni said.
That's what brought Miami back.
After Miami tied the game on a 45-yard field goal, Moss, who took the tailback spot away from fifth-year senior Jarrett Payton, gained 26 yards to put Miami at the Syracuse nine yard line with 8:08 left. Miami went right back to Moss, who knocked over Anthony Smith and dragged Scanlon all the way into the endzone. Moss gained 91 yards on 18 attempts.
Miami started the game with Kellen Wislow watching from the sideline. The All-American hopeful was ineffective, dropping a pass, and fumbling his only catch, a 6-yard gain.
The other story line featured a quarterback controversy with Cruddup replacing Brock Berlin. He did make an appearance, and was greeted with boos from the Miami crowd. He misfired on a pass attempt, was sacked, and didn't play the rest of the game.
Miami finds a way past Syracuse
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