Orange squeeze life out of No. 25 Rutgers

The Syracuse athletics department has caught the “winning fever” from the Orange men’s basketball team. The SU football team kept the mojo flowing Saturday afternoon, shocking No. 25 Rutgers, 31-13, before 36,759 fans at the Carrier Dome.

Halftime Snack thought many things Saturday afternoon in the Dome press box:

CRYPTIC MUSIC: The Carrier Dome speakers blasted some prophetic music throughout the warm-ups. Early on, “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” by Blue Oyster Cult, cast an ominous shadow over the injury-depleted SU roster. The next song was performed by The Guess Who, echoing through the Dome and possibly the minds of the Rutgers coaching staff—just who would take snaps for Syracuse? And finally, near the end of the warm-ups, “Use Somebody” by the Kings of Leon seemed to personify how SU coach Doug Marrone longed to have the talented players Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had at his disposal.

RUN, BABY, RUN: Syracuse's patchwork offensive line (five different units have started this season) dominated Rutgers all day, opening wide holes for Orange running backs to blast through. SU amassed 213 rushing yards on the day. All three backs, (senior Delone Carter and sophomores Antwon Bailey and sophomore Averin Collier) found the end zone, topped by Collier’s 60-yard game-clinching touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

BLOCK PARTY: The Rutgers special teams unit blocked three kicks Saturday afternoon, two by Joe Lefeged. The speedy Lefeged knifed through the SU line early in the second quarter, blocking a Rob Long punt out of the end zone for the safety. He haunted the Orange again at the start of the fourth quarter, knocking away a chip-shot field goal attempt by SU’s Ryan Lichtenstein. Rutgers got a piece of another Long punt mid-way through the fourth quarter and the good field position resulted in a field goal.

HOUSE MONEY: Syracuse, preachers about the importance of field position all year, had its foot on Rutgers' throat defensively early on. So why would the Orange attempt an onside kick with a special teams unit that has fallen apart in the past few weeks? And the Orange, as has become the norm, screwed up the attempt, with Dan Vais jumping offsides. Rutgers took the short field and ran a trick play on the first snap, using some razzle-dazzle on double end around with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu tossing a 38-yard touchdown pass to fellow wideout Tim Brown. 

TURNOVER TREATS: The Scarlet Knights came into Saturday’s game as the national leader in turnover margin (2.33), with starting quarterback Tom Savage having thrown only two picks. The Orange's success hinged on the ability of its defense to create extra possessions, and junior safety Mike Averin CollierHolmes complied with two interceptions, a career best. Holmes leads the Orange with three interceptions in 2009 and is the first SU player since 2007 (Joe Fields vs. Miami of Ohio) to snag two picks in one game

THEY SAID IT: “It’s such a surreal feeling. Everyone kind of thought about it, not necessarily said anything about it, but it was always in the back of our minds.” – SU linebacker Mike Stenclik talking about walking into the Carrier Dome for the final time in his career.

“We didn’t coach very well and we didn’t play very well.” -- Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano following the game

“Just watching (SU running back Antwon Bailey) run and watching him play football; it lifted everyone else up.”
– Orange senior quarterback Greg Paulus, on what sparked SU’s fire at the start of the game.

(photo of Averin Collier by Mitchell Franz,

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