Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse Wins Thriller, 36-34

-- Pinstripe Bowl victory worth celebrating for Syracuse football program

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New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Final: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34

Wow. What a final quarter. What a show the Syracuse Orange and Kansas State Wildcats put on for the fans at Yankee Stadium.

In the first-ever Pinstripe Bowl, which had everything a college football fan -- heck, even the casual sports fan -- could want, the Orange beat the Wildcats, 36-34.

Syracuse (8-5) claimed the George H. Steinbrenner Trophy and its bowl first victory since the 2001 Insight.com Bowl, which featured SU beating KSU 26-3.

SU running back Delone Carter, who rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns, earned MVP honors.

The unsung hero, however, was junior wide receiver Marcus Sales.

Sales snagged a collegiate-best three TDs, the third was a 44-yarder that gave SU a 33-28 lead with 7:53 remaining in the game. Sales finished with a game-best 172 receiving yards.

The Orange added a 40-yard field goal by kick Ross Krautman to increase its margin to 36-28 with 3:07 to go.

KSU answered Krautman's kick with a five-play, 57-yard TD drive, which ended when wide receiver Adrian Hilburn caught a quick-out pattern from quarterback Carson Coffman and dashed 30 yards for the score.

However, any chances of a Wildcat comeback were shattered when Hilburn crossed the goal line, stood in a military stance then saluted the fans. Hilburn was flagged and KSU was penalized 15 yards for unsportmanlike conduct.

"Two officials threw the flag, both judged it to be drawing attention to themselves, and that's what the flag was for," said referee Todd Geerlings.

The penalty was assessed on the two-point attempt, pushing Kansas State back to the 18-yard line for its game-tying attempt. Coffman missed his intended receiver, allowing Syracuse to maintain its two-point advantage.

KSU recovered the onside kick attempt, but the Wildcats were penalized as the kick did not go 10 yards. That gave Syracuse the ball and SU ran out the remainder of the clock from the victory formation.

Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib finished 13-of-21 for 239 yards passing and three TDs.



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New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Halftime Observations

Here are a few observations from the first 30 minutes of action in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and Kansas State.

- For much of the first half it felt like Kansas State was the team with the more consistent, more explosive offense. Two plays into the game the Wildcats got a 51-yard run from Daniel Thomas for a score. Yet, the game is tied at 14-14 and Syracuse has dominated in terms of total offense. The Orange have 242 yards to KSU’s 166. The Orange ran eight more plays, holding a 38-30 edge there.
- Syracuse was very fortunate not to be down 14-0 as Kansas State had a punt return for a touchdown wiped out by a penalty.
- I am guessing that the stadium is maybe two-thirds full. I have to say it looks beautiful as a football venue, and though it isn’t shaped like a traditional football stadium I don’t think there are any bad seats in the house.
- The playing surface is in great shape despite the blizzard that hit New York a few days ago, though you can see that it is very slippery along the edges of the field.
- Fabulous blitz pickup by Antwon Bailey on SU’s second touchdown, a 36-yard pass from Ryan Nassib to Marcus Sales. Bailey identified a corner blitz, and completely flipped the leaping Kansas State blitzer into the air, allowing Nassib to get the pass off.

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New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Halftime: Syracuse 14, Kansas State 14

Like most things in New York, when the sun goes down, the spotlights come on and the show gets better.

That’s what is happening at Yankee Stadium.

Using a seven-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, capped by 10-yard run by running back Daniel Thomas, who took the snap from the Wildcat formation, Kansas State helped the New Era Pinstripe Bowl reach the half in a tie, 14-14.

Early in the quarter, SU took a 14-7 advantage after quarterback Ryan Nassib and wide receiver Marcus Sales connected on a 36-yard touchdown, their second TD connection of the game.

Nassib and Sales capped an eight-play, 79-yard drive that broke a 7-7 tie.

The game, which seemed to be Kansas State’s to lose in the first quarter, has turned into an evenly-matched crowd pleaser.

Though the game hasn’t featured a ton of scoring — KSU did miss on a TD and field goal opportunity — it has featured quality defense, hard hits and big plays.

The second half should be good.

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End Of First Quarter: Syracuse 7, Kansas State 7

Syracused turned an awful opening quarter for SU fans into one they could be proud of.

Trailing 7-0 with less than four minutes to go in the opening quarter, junior quarterback Ryan Nassib connected with junior wide receiver Marcus Sales on a career-long, 52-yard TD reception to help SU knot the game at 7-7.

On first-and-10 from the KSU 48-yard line, SU called a flea-flicker and it worked as Sales was wide open at the goal line.

The Orange’s trick play answered a huge 51-yard dash by KSU senior running back Daniel Thomas, who scored a TD on the second play from scrimmage.

Syracuse’s first possession ended in three plays.

On SU’s second possession, the Orange used 12 plays to go just 28 yards — yes, that stat is correct.

The drive ended when junior quarterback Ryan Nassib was sacked on fourth-and-nine from the Wildcats’ 33-yard line.

But as it usually does, the SU defense held its ground and forced KSU to punt on its third possession of the quarter.

SU scored two plays later.

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New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Ten Minutes to Game Time

The countdown clock on the big Yankee Stadium video board has just passed 10 minutes to kickoff. I’m ready for some football — I have already been here for three hours, so let’s go.

Both marching bands just performed. Among its other selection the SU marching band played the school’s alma mater. Let’s just say it did not exactly get a rousing cheer from the Syracuse faithful here.

I am really curious to see what the attendance will be. The place is beginning to fill up.

We just had our first ’Let’s Go Orange’ chant go up, and following the national anthem a healthy chorus of boos as Kansas State came onto the field. The place isn’t full, but this feels like it could be a lot of fun.

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New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Teams Are On The Field

We are still nearly two hours from kickoff here at the Pinstripe Bowl, but both teams are on the turf here at Yankee Stadium warming up.

It’s in the mid-30s here, and the most amazing thing I am looking at is a handful of Kansas State players out on the field in sleeveless undershirts. There are also quite a few Syracuse players warming up in shorts and t-shirts. Ah, it must be nice to be young and warm-blooded, rather than 50 and shivering in the open air press box!

By the way, the place looks incredible. The Stadium grounds crew did a fantastic job clearing the snow from the playing surface. The infield portion of the playing field has been covered with sod, and I know that I can’t tell you where the infield is supposed to be. Pretty incredible.

There is a presser going on right now with members of the Yankee brass. But, to be honest, Randy Levine gives me the creeps so I’m still sitting in the press box watching warm-ups. Back later with more.

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