Rhodes, Reyes show why they're the top backfield

The Orange stifled boos for at least one week by handing Rutgers a 41-31 loss at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse avenged a 24-7 defeat in Piscataway, N.J., last season and recorded their ninth straight home victory over the Scarlet Knights.

Coach Paul Pasqualoni and his team endured heavy criticism after losing to ranked teams Purdue (51-0) and Virginia (31-10) in the season's opening month. But the victory over Rutgers put the Orange (3-2) in prime position for a run at the Big East's upper echelon teams.

Walter Reyes and Damien Rhodes showed why they are considered one of the nation's top backfield tandems by rushing for 237 and 102 yards, respectively, in the win. They each scored two touchdowns.

Trailing 31-27 late in the fourth quarter, Reyes coughed up a fumble, which Rutgers recovered on the Syracuse 21-yard line. The Scarlet Knights, however, failed to capitalize on the gift and the Orange scored 14 points in the game's final 2:24 to lock up their third victory.

The schedule gets harder as No. 9 Florida State will visit the Carrier Dome on Saturday.


GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Walter Reyes -- The senior had been waiting for a breakout performance and delivered with a season-best 237 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 41-31 win over Rutgers. Reyes rushed for 121 yards by intermission.

KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Damien Rhodes -- Even though he plays second fiddle to Reyes, the junior has established himself as a big-play threat. Rhodes rushed for 102 yards on just 10 carries (10.2-yard average) and scored two touchdowns.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think the key thing with Greg Hanoian and the fullbacks is they've been working so hard on blocking in the perimeter. When you block in the perimeter, you have a chance to have the kind of statistics in rushing the we had today." -- Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni on how his team amassed 399 rushing yards against Rutgers.


LOOKING GOOD: Syracuse's run game was clearly the class of the Big East on Saturday. The Orange entered the game with the league's worst offensive statistics, but sprung backs Walter Reyes (237 rushing yards) and Damien Rhodes (102 rushing yards) for big days.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The Orange appeared to be quite undisciplined in the first half against Rutgers as they where whistled for 11 penalties and 96 yards. The miscues dropped off in the game's final 30 minutes as Syracuse committed four additional penalties for 24 yards.

ROSTER REPORT: WR Steve Gregory (thigh), LB Kellen Pruitt (knee) and CB Tanard Jackson were sidelined for the Rutgers game. Syracuse's secondary was further depleted when SS Diamond Ferri and FS Anthony Smith left the game with ailments, but each eventually returned.

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