But despite yielding 445 yards through the air on a career day by Husky quarterback Dan Orlovsky, Syracuse turned four turnovers into 21 points and escaped with the 42-32 victory.
"That was a lot of yards to give up and win, but at times you do what you need to do," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "He [Orlovsky] was tough to pressure because he reads the field so well. We made the decision to mix it up and not give him anything easy."
Orlovsky made it look easy, completing a school record 39 pass attempts for a career-high 445 yards. The 6'5" senior from Shelton, CT, made life difficult for the Syracuse secondary, buying time with his feet before spreading the ball all over the field.
He threw for three touchdowns in the game, but his mistakes proved to be more important. Orlovsky's two interceptions and one fumble were turned into 21 points for the Orange.
After a five-plus minute drive to open the game, Orlovsky was picked off on the Syracuse 26-yard line by safety Diamond Ferry, who returned the ball to midfield.
After sitting out last week's game with the flu, it too Orange running back Walter Reyes just nine seconds to show he was healthy, taking the first Syracuse offensive snap for a 50 yard touchdown.
With his huskies holding onto a 20-14 lead in the last minute of the first half, Orlovsky, flushed out of the pocket, fumbled a ball that was recovered by Orange lineman James Wyche.
Syracuse quarterback Perry Patterson took over from there. Orchestrating a 6-play 57-yard drive, Patterson threw up a 36-yard pass into a crowded end zone that was tipped and landed in Andre Fontenette's hands. The Orange led 21-20 at the half.
"That was my first touchdown since high school and it's been too long," Fontenette said. "It happened a little too fast so I didn't get to practice my celebration, but it was exciting. It gave the team a spark."
In the third quarter, Syracuse was once again benefited from a good tip. Orange lineman Tony Jenkins read an attempted screen pass and dove to knock down Orlovsky's pass. The tipped ball was caught by Anthony Smith who scampered 32 yards for the score.
"I've had a chance to see a lot of great quarterbacks, and he's right up there at the top," Pasqualoni said of Orlovsky. "He was the difference and kept them in the game. Once we got up by two scores, we were playing as much against the clock as Danny."
Syracuse would not trail again after Fontenette's grab in the back of the end zone as the first half expired. Smith's touchdown stretched the lead to 28-20, and Syracuse put the game out of reach when a 29-yard touchdown pass from Patterson to Jared Jones stretched the Orange lead to 35-23.
Patterson finished 11-for-19 with 125 yards passing and two touchdowns in the game.
Following two straight losses in which the Orange rushing attack combined to rush for just 124 yards, the ground game ignited the offense with 281 yards. Reyes gained 123 yards on 15 carries, scoring two touchdowns. Both he and Damien Rhodes averaged eight yards per carry.
Perhaps the greatest feat on the ground was turned out by Patterson in the waning seconds of the second quarter. On a third and 16, Patterson evaded the Husky rush and scampered up the middle for 18 yards. He would connect with Fontenette three plays later.
"We had some chances, and also some luck," Patterson said. "UCONN came out firing, and it was important that we try and keep up with them."
Syracuse's quick-striking, opportune offense kept up with the fast pace in the first half. Trailing 13-7 following a 2-yard touchdown run by Husky tailback Cornell Brockington with 7:29 remaining in the second quarter, Orange fullback Breyone Evans capped off a 75-yard, 1:40 drive with an acrobatic 22-yard touchdown run.
The highly touted back out of Bristol, CT, stung his home state school, using one arm to maintain his balance after breaking a tackle, finding the end zone to give Syracuse the one point lead.
Syracuse's three scoring drives in the first half totaling 182 yards took just 2:37. The Huskies, who had the ball on offense for 17:40 in the first half, had three drives that each covered more than 70 yards. Orlovsky and Brian Sparks connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass that capped an 80-yard Husky drive, their longest of the day, with 4:07 remaining in the second.
The two teams combined for 590 yards of total offense in the first half.
After being torched for 254 yards through the air, Syracuse switched to a zone in the second half. A unit that entered the game with five sacks, The Orange were able to pressure Orlovsky, sacking him five times.
Leading the charge was the lineman Wyche, who recorded three sacks and seven tackles. He recovered Orlovsky's fumble in the second, which led to the touchdown that put the Orange ahead for good.
"James is a great player and it shows how hard he works," said lineman Julian Pollard, who recorded his first sack of the season. "This is a great win, one we had to have. We had a good rush, and were able to give the ball back to our offense, which is the goal of any defense."
Syracuse forces four turnovers; Top Huskies
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