Anthony Smith blocked two punts, leading the Orange (1-1) to a 37-17 win over Buffalo (0-2) on Saturday. Smith's heroics came in the second quarter, coming on consecutive Buffalo possessions as he pounced on one for a touchdown, and another led to a Syracuse score.
The Orange were able to make up for last week's 51-0 thrashing at the hands of Purdue, but not before Buffalo led Syracuse 10-3 in the second quarter. After the two teams exchanged field goals, Greg Hanoian fumbled and J.J. Gibson returned the ball 57 yards for the first score of the game, giving a record crowd of 29,013 some hope.
"We just hung in there," Syracuse tailback Walter Reyes said. "Do not panic, and let the offense and defense do what they need to do."
But Smith refused to let the Orange suffer another embarrassing loss. With Buffalo pinned at its own 10, Smith led a charge at Buffalo punter Ben Woods. Woods had a poor snap and Smith blocked the punt and fell on the ball to tie the game at 10-10.
"We needed a spark," Smith said.
On the ensuing drive, Buffalo couldn't move the ball and Smith was able to block another punt. This time, Kellen Pruitt recovered the ball and was able to return it to the 1. Smith's punt is one off the school record, which is held by David Tyree.
Reyes punched the ball in from the 3-yard line for a 17-10 midway through the second quarter. Reyes, who many saw as a legitimate Heisman candidate, rushed for just 59 yards on 17 carries.
After the Bulls' offense struggled again, Damien Rhodes scored on a 46-yard run and Collin Barber added a field goal as Syracuse grabbed a 27-10 halftime lead.
Barber hit another field goal and Kelvin Smith returned an interception 22 yards for a score to account for Syracuse's second half points. Orange backup quarterback Xzavier Gaines fumbled in Syracuse's endzone and Bulls linebacker Ollice Ervine recovered for a touchdown with 4:21 left for the final points.
Smith blocks two punts, Syracuse wins
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