A 98-yard kick off return by senior wide receiver Dorian Graham has helped Syracuse University take a 21-9 halftime advantage over West Virginia University in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome. The Mountaineers (5-1, 1-0 Big East) are currently ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll, No. 14 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, while the Orange (4-2, 0-1) are nowhere near the top 25.
Graham's big play answered a 64-yard TD reception by sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey that had cut the Orange margin to 14-9 with 8:49 to go in the half. Bailey outleaped two SU defenders to get to a pass thrown by junior quarterback Geno Smith, who has struggled (11-of-23 for just 199-passing yards). WVU junior kicker Tyler Bitancurt missed the extra point attempt wide left.
Near the end of the half, WVU was driving deep inside SU territory, but Smith was picked off by sophomore defensive back Jeremi Wilkes in the end zone with less than a minute to play.
In the first quarter, Syracuse got on the scoreboard first with a three-yard touchdown catch by senior tight end Nick Provo from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. Provo's third TD catch of the year, which came with 4:15 to play in the first quarter, capped a 15-play, 84-yard drive that helped SU take 7-0 advantage.
WVU cut it to 7-3 with a 27-yard field goal by Bitancurt, but SU increased its lead to 14-3 when Nassib led a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with him scoring on a one-yard plunge.