At the conclusion of Thursday's 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State, the Syracuse University football team gathered at midfield for a post-game victory celebration. Even after Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner presented the championship trophy the Orange did not seem to want to leave.
Players milled around the field, climbed up and over sideline snowbanks to share the reverie with SU fans who hung around long after the final whistle, some players even hopping into the stands.
You can't blame them one bit. The Orange certainly did have a lot to celebrate, capturing a thrilling victory in their first bowl appearance since 2004.
What a great event Thursday's victory, in front of 38,274 paying customers at Yankee Stadium in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl, was for the Syracuse football program.
"The fans were great," said coach Doug Marrone. "It felt like a home game for us."
The resurgent Orange could not have asked for a better setting in which to sell Syracuse as the place to be to the downstate recruits head coach Doug Marrone has spent so much time and effort trying to bring to the upstate campus. Syracuse could not have done a better job selling itself, putting on a fabulous performance in a charged-up Yankee Stadium atmosphere dominated by orange sweatshirts.
"It's just so important," said Marrone. "This is our priority recruiting area ... I think these things will help us."
This was a terrific, well-played, back-and-forth football game in what turned out to be a terrific setting. You like wide-open offense? This game had plenty of it, probably leaving fans of the 8-5 Orange wondering where this sort of big-play, high-scoring football was all season. The Orange had two plays of more than 50 yards against Kansas State after having only one in the first 12 games.
"There was a lot of time off for both football teams," said coach Doug Marrone. "We had a lot of time to practice. We challenged our players."
Syracuse running back Delone Carter won the MVP with a 27-carry, 200-yard performance that included a 60-yard run. Syracuse scored on touchdown passes of 52, 44 and 36 yards from quarterback Ryan Nassib to Marcus Sales -- the 52-yarder on a flea-flicker.
Nationally, this was just another win in an overcrowded pool of bowl games. For Syracuse, though, it was a chance to showcase the fact that they are ready to return the-mighty program to a national stage.
If you were wondering how Yankee Stadium would play for a bowl game, the answer is very, very well. The place looked great and sounded great.
Marrone, born and raised in the city, called coaching a bowl game at the stadium a "dream come true."
The way things turned out, the entire scenario played out in dream fashion for Syracuse.