Big day in the Big Apple

Syracuse outlasts Kansas State to win a thrilling inaugural Pinstripe Bowl 36-34 at Yankee Stadium.

With resilience, a few trick plays, and one of the best running backs in program history, the Orange won its first bowl game since 2001. At the end of it all, Doug Marrone nearly broke down in tears on the sidelines at Yankee Stadium.

“When you haven’t gone to a bowl game since 2004 and had a winning season since 2001, the first step is to create that as a goal,” Marrone said. “We needed to come out with a good performance so we could carry ourselves over for the challenge we face in the future.”

Photo: Aaron Katchen
Syracuse running back Delone Carter (3) breaks away from the Wildcat defense. Carter ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the game.

Bringing Syracuse its first bowl victory in almost a decade is a good start.

The Orange never folded, and after its first score, the offense never wavered as it held on for a dramatic 36-34 win over Kansas State in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Marcus Sales had five catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns, while bowl MVP Delone Carter rushed for 198 yards and two scores.

Carter passed Larry Csonka to move into third all-time on Syracuse’s rushing list, and tied Jim Brown for seventh in the Orange record books with 11 career 100-yard games.

His 198-yard performance – including 141 in the second half – was the exclamation point on one of the most outstanding careers in Syracuse history.

“(Pounding the ball) was the game plan the whole game,” Carter said. “In the second half, I knew I had to take it to another level, so I put my shoulder down and ran hard.”

Carter said he felt like he was running with SU punter and captain Rob Long on his back. Long was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Dec. 2, and was unable to play against the Wildcats.

Early on, it looked like Kansas State was going to have the edge on the ground after Daniel Thomas ripped off a 51-yard touchdown run just 28 seconds into the game. However, following that run, the Orange were able to keep Thomas in check as they allowed him only 45 yards the rest of the game.

Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder tipped his hat to the Syracuse defense, which made adjustments up front and dominated the line of scrimmage.

“Football is a game made up of 11 people on both sides of the ball and their 11 played awfully well on defense,” Snyder said. “Daniel is the same guy he’s always been. He has great success when we do well up front, and we struggled up front, and he struggled too.”

The early struggles for both teams aside, the game was close with just over three minutes to play. The Orange held an eight-point lead after a 40-yard field goal by Ross Krautman split the uprights with 3:08 remaining.

As was typical all game, Kansas State answered the call. Wide receiver Adrian Hilburn took a short pass and scampered 30 yards down the right sideline and into the end zone to pull within two, 36-34. In the end zone though, Hilburn saluted the largely pro-Syracuse crowd and earned a celebration penalty.

The 15-yard penalty was assessed on the two-point conversion, moving the try back to the 18 yard line. From there, Kansas State’s Carson Coffman overthrew his receiver in the end zone to preserve the Orange lead. 

The Wildcats had one more opportunity with a little more than a minute left on the clock, when they recovered their onside kick following the touchdown. The kick failed to travel the required 10 yards, however, before Kansas State recovered, so Syracuse took over possession. From there, SU quarterback Ryan Nassib assumed victory formation to close out the game.

“(This win) means the world to us, I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet though,” SU running back Antwon Bailey said. “We just doubled our wins from last year, that’s crazy. We won our bowl game, and we didn’t just win it, but won it in our home state.

"It’s a beautiful thing.”

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