Home sweet Dome

QB Ryan Nassib's record-setting TD performance leads the home-opening win over Maine.

Ryan Nassib threw a team record five touchdown passes and Syracuse shook off a slow start to rout Maine in their home opener Saturday, 38-14.

“It feels pretty good, especially with all the great quarterbacks that have come through here,” Nassib said about setting the school record for touchdown passes in a game.

The junior QB completed 19-of-28 attempts for 260 yards with no interceptions. Nassib's fifth touchdown of the night -- a 21-yard pass to Van Chew at the start of the fourth quarter -- capped a streak of 31 unanswered points by the Orange.

Photo: Zach Ornitz
Ryan Nassib set a new school record by throwing five touchdowns Saturday to defeat Maine.

SU football fans forecast the

Video: SU football fans forecast the season

After the game, SU head coach Doug Marrone said he was happy for his quarterback, and that Nassib is only going to get better.

“I said it from the beginning, I love this quarterback,” Marrone said. “I think he is someone special. I know he is to us as a football program and I think we’re seeing a guy who could do a lot of great things here within a school that has had a lot of good quarterbacks.”

Playing its first game at home, SU was hoping to get off to a fast start. The Orange wanted to show their fans they were a different team than the one that trailed the Black Bears by four points at halftime in 2009.

However, desire doesn’t always equal results. Maine used a 14-play, 84-yard drive that ate up 7:51 of the first quarter to score the first points of the game when QB Warren Smith scampered in from 10 yards out.

The Black Bears were aided on the drive by multiple Syracuse penalties – the Orange were flagged an astounding 14 times – and by SU’s inability to stop Maine on third downs.

Syracuse would respond by posting a quick three-and-out, but after a defensive stop, they would get things going. Nassib connected with Chew for a 25 yard strike, and a few plays later the Orange were knocking on the door. On second and goal from the three yard line, Nassib found a wide-open Alec Lemon to put Syracuse on the board.

SU’s sudden offensive outburst didn’t intimidate Maine though. The Black Bears got good field position following one of Roosevelt Boone’s many good kick returns, and marched 56 yards for another score.

Following a Ross Krautman field goal, the Black Bears got the ball again with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Trailing 14-10 with Maine on the move, it looked like Syracuse would be trailing this FCS squad at half for the second straight year.

Enter the Syracuse defense.

After struggling to put pressure on the Black Bears early, the Orange got to Smith and forced him to cough up the ball. Senior linebacker Derrell Smith was waiting, and jumped on the ball deep in Maine territory. The play was reviewed, but the fumble was clear and SU took over at the Black Bears 25 yard line.

Despite the momentum change, penalties and miscues backed the Orange into a fourth down and goal from the four yard line. Rather than taking the three points and trailing by one at the half, Marrone elected to go for the touchdown.

It was a move that paid off. Nassib rolled to the right, avoided pressure and somehow found tight end Jose Cruz in the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

“I just ran a little hook route, and I saw Ryan rolling out and I just decided to run with him,” Cruz said. “Luckily, he threw it. I never doubted whether or not I caught it. Rob Long said, ‘Promise me you caught it,’ and I did.”

The catch was reviewed, but for the second time on the night, the ruling was in favor of the Orange. Syracuse was able to head to the locker room with the lead, 17-14.

“I knew we were going to go for a touchdown, I didn’t think three points would be worth anything,” Marrone said of why he elected to go for it.

For Maine, it was all downhill from there. SU scored on three of its next four possessions and the Orange defense pitched a shutout in the second half to secure the victory.

Following the news that senior wide receiver Aaron Weaver would miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Saturday’s game turned out to be a coming out party for multiple receivers.

Chew, who has been solid all season, led the Orange with 113 yards and a TD, while Lemon and tight end Nick Provo had great games as well. Provo caught five passes for 85 yards and a TD, and Lemon added five catches for 58 yards and two scores.

“Tonight we showed that we have a lot of options, we’re not just relying on one receiver,” Lemon said. “We can spread the ball around and make the defense look at all the players, not just one option.”

Next week the Orange stay at home to host Colgate, another team from the FCS. Marrone and the rest of the Orange said they’ll be looking to cut down on their penalties and other mental mistakes.

“Just like every week, whether we win or lose, we have to correct our mistakes,” Nassib said. “(Mistakes) are going to happen and it is something we have to change, because if we keep making the same mistakes, then they are going to come back and get us.”

Jose Cruz hauls in one of five touchdown passes from quarterback Ryan Nassib near the end of the first half of play as the Syracuse Orange took on the Maine Brown Bears in their home opener Saturday. (Photo: Zach Ornitz)

What SU's fans are saying

See what the Orange faithful of all ages were predicting for their team prior to Saturday's game again Maine.

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