The Hurricanes refused to enter Saturday’s game against Syracuse worried about the BCS or conference titles. All they were focused on was beating the Orangemen.
Led by stingy defense and the second-half running of Tyrone Moss, the ‘Canes were able to hold off Syracuse 17-10 at the Orange Bowl. The win improved the Hurricanes to 8-2 overall with a 4-1 record in the Big East, while the Orangemen fell to 5-4 (2-3).
In his first career start, junior quarterback Derrick Crudup completed five out of 13 passes for 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Crudup made things happen with his feet as well, gaining 48 yards on 14 carries. Moss ran the ball 18 times for 91 yards and a touchdown.
The Orangemen were led by running back Walter Reyes, who gained 101 yards on 24 carries, scoring the only touchdown of the day for Syracuse. Quarterback R.J. Anderson completed 12 of 21 passes for 85 yards.
Head Coach Larry Coker said he was satisfied with the effort his team showed against ‘Cuse.
“Well, obviously that was an extremely hard-fought football game, a tough game to win. We knew that it would be,” Coker said.
The Hurricanes started the game on offense, and Crudup used his running ability as a weapon, picking up a first down on a nine-yard run and gaining eight yards on the next play. His third pass attempt was picked off by Rich Scanlon, however, and the ‘Canes’ first drive did not result in any points.
Syracuse opened up the scoring with a 32-yard Collin Barber field goal, capping off a drive that lasted 10 plays, gained 43 yards, and took 4:56 off the clock.
The Hurricanes responded with 1:37 left in the first quarter when Crudup found Ryan Moore wide open downfield for a 45-yard touchdown to give the ‘Canes a 7-3 lead.
The Hurricanes were driving at the beginning of the second quarter when Crudup fumbled a snap, which was recovered by Syracuse’s Kellen Pruitt. The Orangemen capitalized off of the turnover with one-yard touchdown run by Reyes, making the score 10-7 in favor of ‘Cuse. Syracuse relied on its ground game throughout the scoring drive, alternating carries between Reyes and Thump Belton.
The Hurricanes had an opportunity to put more points on the board early in the third quarter when Kellen Winslow, who did not play during the first two series because of personal fouls committed against Tennessee, blocked Brendan Carney’s punt, giving the ‘Canes possession at the Syracuse 13 yard line. Miami couldn’t cash in on the golden opportunity, however, as Crudup was stuffed on a fourth down run, giving the Orangemen the ball back.
The ‘Canes’ defense forced Syracuse to punt, and UM began mounting another drive. Winslow caught a Crudup pass and appeared to pick up the first down, but the junior tight end coughed up the football. Pruitt recovered the fumble once again, and the Orangemen had another chance to capitalize off of a Miami turnover.
Syracuse was forced to punt, however, and the Hurricanes decided to change their offensive strategy. Moss began the drive with three consecutive carries for a first down, and would get the ball eight more times on the possession. Jon Peattie converted on a 44-yard field goal to tie the score at 10 apiece.
The defense tightened up during the fourth quarter, forcing the Orangemen to go three-and-out on their first possession of the period. It did not take long for the Hurricanes to regain the lead as Moss followed a 26-yard run with a nine-yard touchdown.
Moss said that increased amount of carries late in the game did wonders for his confidence.
“Getting the ball more makes me work harder every play and just try to get the job done,” Moss said.
Coker admitted that he should have called Moss’s number during the loss to Tennessee a week ago.
“I think I made a mistake in the Tennessee game by not playing him [Tyrone] early, and then when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter, he needed to be in the game at that time, but that’s not the right thing to do. It’s not fair to him,” Coker said.
Syracuse had one last chance with under a minute left in the game, but Anderson’s fourth down pass to Johnnie Morant was batted down by Maurice Sikes, and the ‘Canes could breathe a sigh of relief.
“We needed a win, and that was the important thing we were able to accomplish today,” Coker said. “I’m very proud of our football team today. It has been a tough two weeks.”