The Orange Continue to Ripen

The Orange Continue to Ripen

The Syracuse Orange defeat a familiar opponent in the West Virginia Mountaineers to win their second in two tries under Marrone. See the story inside.

In 2010, the Syracuse Orange football team entered into Yankee Stadium on the right side of .500 since before Paul Pasqualoni was fired.

They left the stadium as the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl champions, defeating the Big 12 Conference's Kansas State Wildcats, 36-34.

That match featured two teams who never were out of the game, switching the lead back and forth.

This contest did not look the same in the end score, but once thing did parallel 2010: the Orange were the ones hoisting the George Steinbrenner New Era Pinstripe Bowl trophy when the final buzzer rang.

Syracuse got on the board first off of kicker Ross Krautman's foot, giving them an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

West Virginia had missed their field goal attempt prior to this make for Syracuse.

Both teams stayed quiet for the first seven minutes of the second quarter, with Syracuse running back Prince-Tyson Gulley ruled down at the West Virginia one-yard line, causing a turnover on downs.

But the defense bailed out the offensive unit, when linebacker Cameron Lynch sacked Mountaineers' quarterback Geno Smith, with the help of fellow linebacker Siriki Diabate for a sack and more importantly, a safety, putting the Orange up 5-0.

After the ensuing punt by West Virginia, Gulley carried the ball five times as the main focus of Syracuse's next drive. His final carry of the five ended in the end zone after gaining 33 yards, with the Orange advancing to a 12-0 lead.

Syracuse's defense prevented a normally high-powered West Virginia offense from scoring until 3:38 left in the opening half, when Smith connected with wide receiver Stedman Bailey on a 32-yard passing play.

Throughout the regular season, the Mountaineers' highest-scoring quarter was the second quarter, but the Orange only allotted them seven points in this match.

At the break, Syracuse held a five-point advantage, 12-7, with the ball coming back to them for the closing half.

On the feet and cuts of Gulley, the third quarter elevated the Orange to a 35-14 lead over their adversaries, the Mountaineers. Gulley scored twice, but not before a unique catch by tight end Beckett Wales.

Standing near the backline in the middle of the end zone, Wales was targeted by Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, but Nassib's attempt was stunted by the West Virginia defense, which tipped the ball in the air. Wales kept his composure, keeping his eye on the ball, and caught the touchdown originally meant for him.

The Orange would lose the ball on their next possession as a result of Nassib's pass put outside of wide receiver Marcus Sales being intercepted.

But, as the defense made up for an offensive blunder in the first half, they took back the opportunity that the offense gave away. Linebacker Dyshawn Davis hit Geno Smith, forcing a fumble, which he also recovered.

On Syracuse's first play on the following drive, Gulley thanked the defense for the opportunity to try again with a 67-yard run that featured his cutting ability and speed.

Orange cornerback Brandon Reddish would fall in man coverage on Bailey, helping to lead to a West Virginia touchdown, which shortened the Mountaineers' deficit to 12 once again, 26-14.

Gulley and the offense stayed poised and continued to score at will, as Gulley ran in another across West Virginia's threshold, this time, from 10 yards out.

The defense continued to compliment the offense, a key factor in getting Syracuse to the postseason. They provided pressure once again on Geno Smith, resulting in Smith being called for intentional grounding while in his own end zone. Syracuse gained two more points off of this their second safety attained during the game, advancing their lead to 35-14.

Syracuse would add their last points in the beginning of the final quarter, when Krautman sent his second attempt of the game through the uprights, giving the Orange a 38-14. Krautman was perfect in the match, going 2-for-2 in field goal attempts and 4-for-4 in extra point tries.

West Virginia would not score in the fourth quarter, with the Syracuse defense successfully creating a West Virginia drought that would last more than 20 minutes, after the Mountaineers scored with 5:41 to go in the third quarter.

In the 2010 contest, the Orange finished with 498 total yards. They bested that mark in the 2012 installment of the Pinstripe Bowl, gaining 512 yards total.

Gulley led all players from both teams in his yards accumulated on the ground alone, with 208, besting Delone Carter's output from the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl.

Like Carter, Gulley held in his hands the game's MVP trophy. Carter had two rushing touchdowns, as did Gulley. But, Gulley also added a reception for a touchdown. His single-game total of 264 yards are the best ever by a Syracuse player in either of their two Pinstripe Bowl appearances.

"Prince has been a player that really worked hard, played with injury, has really come a long way in our program and I couldn't be prouder of him sitting next to me," said Orange head coach Doug Marrone sitting at the side of Gulley in the postgame press conference.

"I thank Yankee Stadium, all of the Yankee people, for the good situation coming here," Gulley expressed. "And I want to thank the coaches for believing in me, and you're right, I have came a long way."

Syracuse has now silenced Geno Smith and West Virginia three straight times, something they refer to as, "Three strikes, you're out."

Smith and the explosive offense was quieted as defensive end Brandon Sharpe sacked him twice, while Lynch and free safety Jeremi Wilkes each brought Smith down once.

Diabate had a superb game, flying to the ball, getting involved in numerous stops.

The Orange defense as a whole recorded 14 tackles for a loss.

The second head of the bruising backfield that has become the Orange, Jerome Smith, ended with 157 rushing yards, adding to his already 1,000-yard rushing season.

For the Orange passing attack, Nassib completed 50% of his passes in a running type of atmosphere, going 12-for-24 for 134 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

Syracuse wide receiver Alec Lemon, who entered the contest with the most career catches for a Syracuse player with 199, added three more to end his career with the orange and blue at 202 career receptions.

Like Smith, Lemon had already reached and surpassed 1,000 yards, but in his case in receiving, placing 11 more yards on a supreme season for the senior.

Marrone is 2-0 in postseason play, leading the Orange to a bowl game half of the time, twice in four seasons.

As a member of the Big East Conference for the final time, Marrone and the Orange say farewell as co-champions of the conference in the regular season and Pinstripe Bowl victors.

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