Turkey Roast

The Syracuse football team celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks early, carving up the Hokies defense for 50 points. However, 50 points were barely enough. More than four hours past the start of the game and three overtime sessions later, the Orangemen outlasted Virginia Tech, 50-42.

Looking at the box scores, Syracuse had their typical season-long woes. But those troubles were not nearly the lead story of the game.

504 passing yards allowed: so what? Three interceptions thrown: who cares? A missed field goal and a missed extra point: fuggedaboutit.

So many more things showed the heart and success of the Orangemen. Troy Nunes, now 3-0 as a starter this year, completed 26 of 40 passes for 403 yards, all career-highs. David Tyree caught nine passes for 229 yards, also both career-highs for the senior captain. Walter Reyes and Damien Rhodes combined for five rushing touchdowns.

Besides the statistical analysis, the Orangemen showed something that cannot be seen in any box score: heart.

A blocked punt, juggling-act interceptions, a juggernaut of an offense that kept pounding the ball down the field, and a persistent defense that kept grinding even when VT kept throwing bombs down the field for touchdowns.

Best of all was the game's final play, a play that transcended Saturday's display of heart and determination into a season-long example of heart. Maurice McClain, who broke his leg in the spring and whom doctors said may have trouble walking again, intercepted VT quarterback Bryan Randall's pass in the endzone to clinch the victory. Things have come full circle for McClain.

Syracuse's season has almost come full circle now, too. Embarrassed most of the first half of the season, SU has rebounded to win three in a row, including Saturday's win against the seventh-ranked Hokies. Left on the schedule are Boston College and a clash with #1 Miami at the Dome. At 4-6, Syracuse will try to play spoiler and end the season on a high note, maybe ruining Miami's run at another national title.

They already ended any hopes of Virginia Tech getting to the championship game in a game that I'm sure will not soon be forgotten by the spoilers.

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