Bowl bound

Ross Krautman's 24-yard field goal pushed the Orange past Rutgers and helped Syracuse pick up its seventh win of the season to become bowl eligible.

Add another game to Syracuse’s schedule. SU kept its conference road record unblemished and became bowl eligible for the first time since 2004 as they beat Rutgers Saturday, 13-10.

Freshman kicker Ross Krautman connected on two field goals – a career-long 48 yarder and a go-ahead 24 yarder with 1:07 to play to guarantee the Orange a winning season and keep them in the hunt for the conference title. Going into the game Krautman – a New Jersey native – was excited about the possibility of kicking a game-winning field goal in his home state.

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Mills / The Star-Ledger
Nosetackle Anthony Perkins sacks Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd during the first half Saturday at Rutgers Stadium.

“I love being under pressure,” he said. “It’s a big game, and you never know, it could come down to a field goal at the end. I’m always going to be ready.”

Ready he was as his 48-yard field goal tied the game and set up his late game heroics.

“He’s been doing that all year though, so for him to come in … in the tenth game of the year and be able to do that, that’s what we’ve come to expect from Ross,” SU head coach Doug Marrone said in a post game radio interview.

Syracuse jumped on the board early when junior quarterback Ryan Nassib found running back Antwon Bailey out of the backfield for a four-yard touchdown. The catch was Bailey’s fourth receiving score of the season, and gave the Orange an early 7-0 lead.

Following the early scoring drive though, the Orange struggled to hold on to the ball. Syracuse had problems with early turnovers, and when the offense maintained its possession, it struggled to move the ball. As they have done on the road for most of the year though, the SU defense stepped up.

“The defense did a nice job on the change of possession,” Marrone said. "[It’s a] credit to them, they’ve gone out there on the field and they’ve stopped teams most of the year. We didn’t execute as well as we should offensively, and we’re fortunate it didn’t kill us.”

Despite controlling the game for most of the first half, the Orange only led by four at the half. Much of SU’s dominance can be attributed to play of Scarlet Knight quarterback Chase Dodd. The freshman completed only three passes for 30 yards in the opening half.

After Dodd’s struggles in the first half, Rutgers made a switch in the second half by inserting sophomore Tom Savage into the starting lineup. Combined with the “wildcat” running ability of freshman Jeremy Deering, Savage led the home team to a touchdown on its opening drive of the third quarter – a 19-yard scamper by Deering that gave Rutgers its first lead of the game.

The Orange would right the ship and respond. Though the Syracuse offense would not find the end zone again, Krautman’s leg and SU’s defense was enough to carry it to the victory.

 “You’ve just got to stay focused in a game like this, especially when it’s going back and forth,” Krautman said in a postgame radio interview. “You’ve just got to keep your head in the game.”

Following Krautman’s go-ahead score, the Scarlett Knights returned the ball to the 30 yard line. However, Rutgers had used all of its timeouts, and as facing a stiff test trying to move the ball against the SU defense. As they had done some many times in the Big East conference already this year, the Orange buckled down when they had to and Rutgers ran out of chances.

Now, the Orange return home for their final two games, starting with Connecticut next Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We had a goal coming in to have a winning season and to be bowl eligible,” Marrone said. “We’ve done that, and we still have some unfinished business with two games left.”

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