Carter takes the lead in rushing past Akron

The Orange benefit from Delone Carter's career performance to defeat Zips, 28-14.

Watch Kyle demonstrate Delone Carter's fourth quarter touchdown with the new Halftime Snack Whiteboard Video.

Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone preaches preparation, expecting each Orange player to be ready to perform at all times.  Saturday afternoon against Akron, Marrone found out if his players were listening.   

The Syracuse Orange (3-4, 0-2 Big East) dominated the running game in a 28-14 victory over the visiting Zips (1-6, 0-3 MAC) before 36,991 fans in the Carrier Dome on Family Weekend. Syracuse put up a season-high 234 yards on the ground, including a career-high 170 rushing yards and three touchdowns by running back Delone Carter, while officially holding the Zips to zero yards on the ground (48 Akron yards were wiped out by four SU sacks).

Photo: Mitchell Franz
Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone shakes hands with Akron coach J.D. Brookhart Saturday after the Orange defeated the Zips, 28-14.

The SU quarterback controversy caught fans’ attention prior to the game (starter Greg Paulus was benched midway through the West Virginia game) and the offensive line was shuffled, but the real pre-game surprise was an announcement that Orange star wide receiver Mike Williams was suspended for one game. The SU Athletics press released stated Williams had committed “a violation of team rules.” 

“The decisions made, and the timing of the decisions, are always made in the best interest of the program,” Marrone said in the post-game press conference. “We welcome both Mike Williams and (freshman linebacker) E.J. Carter back with our team, reinstated immediately after this game.”

The Syracuse depth chart proved deep Saturday. First-time starters included sophomore wide receivers Marcus Sales (six catches, 61 yards) and Van Chew and junior offensive tackle Josh White.

“I give Josh White a lot of credit,” said Marrone.  “He started off the game and gave up a sack early.  He really settled down and did a nice job for the rest of the game, in both passing and running.”

With the absence of Williams and the SU vertical passing game, White and his fellow linemates took full advantage of the opportunity to play smash-mouth football. 

“I might have been on them for a long period of time and not have anything nice to say at times, but I gave (the offensive line) credit,” said Marrone, a former SU lineman himself. “They came out today and, at times, they looked like they were coming off the football and knocking people off the ball.”

Akron, who defeated the Orange, 42-28, last season, jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. The two teams combined for three turnovers before Zips freshman quarterback Patrick Nicely found wide receiver Andre Jones on a post pattern in the back of the end zone with less than five minutes left in the first quarter. The touchdown throw was a career first for Nicely, the third QB to take snaps for Akron in 2009.

The Orange responded with two Carter rushing touchdowns in the second quarter. The first capped a seven-play, 63-yard scoring drive with Carter dancing into the end zone at 12:20.

The Zips cruised back up the field, led by their freshman signalcaller. Nicely exhibited a couple of quarterback skills: tight spiral with touch, nifty backhanded pitches (either hand) and some third-down patience (a swing pass with pressure up the middle midway through the second quarter kept the SU momentum from growing). The drive would have resulted in a field goal, but Akron called a timeout just before kicker Branko Rogovic sent a 51-yard attempt over the cross bar.  Rogovic missed the second attempt, duck-hooking the attempt left and low. 

The Orange marched up the field in 3:36 with Carter diving over the left side for his second score of the afternoon at 4:14.  Syracuse held the 14-7 lead through halftime.

Akron took just six seconds to tie the game, as Dashan Miller returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. It was the first kick-off return for a touchdown in nearly two years for the Zips (since Brian Williams on Nov. 7, 2007 against Ohio). Miller set the UA record for kickoff return yards Saturday, totaling 191 yards on four returns (the previous record was 180 by Matt Cherry in 2001).

The Orange special teams unit gave the offense great field position on next possession by getting a piece of an Akron punt. The Orange eventually scored on inside screen with Marcus Sales, who waltzed into end zone at 6:47 for his fourth touchdown catch of the season.

The day belonged to Carter, an Akron, Ohio, native who had disappeared from the SU game plan the past three weeks.

“It was a chance I was waiting for, the chance to put the game on my shoulders,” Carter said after the game. “I felt like I could do it, build some confidence on the (offensive line) and take it to the next level. 

Carter ranks 26th all-time at SU with 1,380 career rushing yards, highlighted by a career-long 53-yard romp in the fourth quarter Saturday. It was Carter's third career game with three touchdowns, and second in 2009.

The Orange concludes its six-game homestand on October 31 when fifth-ranked Cincinnati comes to the Dome for a noon start.

Excellant coverage Harry

Excellant coverage Harry

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