Career-Bests by Rhodes Surge Orange Past Bearcats

Syracuse was looking to reverse their luck coming off a blowout loss and a lackluster victory in their first two games. So on the opening kickoff, Damien Rhodes took a reverse and put the Orange in good position near their own 40-yard line. The return was a sign of things to come for Rhodes. The junior running back set career highs with a 52-yard run and a 68-yard touchdown reception that proved to be the back-breaker, as Syracuse (2-1, 0-0) beat Cincinnati (1-2, 0-0), 19-7.

Rhodes's TD grab came just 58 seconds after Cincinnati got themselves on the board, cutting Syracuse's lead to 10-7. Rhodes found himself wide open after beating a Bearcat linebacker in man coverage downfield. Rhodes knew it was a play he had to make.

"I was thinking 'don't drop it,' because you'll get kicked out the door forever for that one," said Rhodes, who rushed for 82 yards and caught three balls for 85 yards.

SU coach Paul Pasqualoni agreed that the play was huge, and gave credit to his offensive coaches for setting up Rhodes to outrun a linebacker.

"I wouldn't want our linebackers running 100 yards with Damien Rhodes, either," said Pasqualoni.

Perry Patterson was the quarterback who threw the touchdown pass to Rhodes. It marked the first touchdown pass in the lefty's career.

In addition, it appeared Patterson took a step ahead of Joe Fields in the quarterback race Saturday with a solid performance. Fields once again started the game, played the first two series, and then made way for Patterson to play the next two. After that, Fields played just one more series and ended the day with just five passing yards. Patterson had the better day, completing 10 of 16 passes with the one TD throw. He did, however, throw two interceptions. Pasqualoni said Patterson got into more of a rhythm, but was unsure who would start next week's game.

"We'll have to go back and look at the film and grade it before we make any judgments," said Pasqualoni.

Meanwhile, the Orange defense backed up its solid performance last week against Buffalo with an equally impressive day Saturday. Syracuse picked off four passes thrown by Cincinnati quarterback Gino Guidugli, and caused six turnovers in all. The four interceptions were the most the Orange have recorded in a single game since 1999, when they had five against Tulane.

Individually, senior Walter Reyes recorded his first 100-yard game of the year, tallying 117 yards on 24 carries. And safety Anthony Smith blocked his third punt in the last two weeks and tied the school record with five career blocked punts. The punt rolled out of the back of the endzone for a safety, making the score 19-7, and sealing the victory for Syracuse.

The Orange will take their 2-1 record on the road next week to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers. Game time is scheduled for 3:30.

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