6:30 PM ET, September 27, 2003
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Walter Reyes ran for 162 yards on 17 carries and scored on runs of 61 and 43 yards as Syracuse beat Toledo 34-7 Saturday night.
It was the second straight victory for the Orangemen (3-1), who spoiled Toledo's bid for a second straight win over a BCS team. The Rockets (3-2), who play in the Mid-American Conference, stunned then-No. 9 Pittsburgh 35-31 last week, dropping the Panthers eight spots in the AP Poll.
Reyes, who began the game leading the nation with 173 yards and 16.67 points per game, has 681 yards on 92 carries and 10 touchdowns, all rushing. He has rushed for at least one touchdown in nine straight games and has 28 rushing TDs in his career. That ties him with Ernie Davis and Dee Brown for third place on Syracuse's career list. Floyd Little set the record of 35 from 1964-66.
Toledo rallied from 10 points behind in the fourth quarter to beat Pitt, but the Orangemen rode the legs of their junior star to a commanding 24-0 halftime lead and never let the Rockets' no-huddle offense get untracked. Syracuse gained 303 yards rushing on 47 carries.
Bruce Gradkowski, who was 49-for-62 for 461 yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers, could not solve the Orange defense. He was 31-for-50 for 255 yards and one score and was intercepted once.
Syracuse scored on its first two possessions, with Reyes doing the bulk of the work. Reyes gained 24 yards rushing and another nine yards on a screen pass to set up Collin Barber's 30-yard field goal.
Toledo stacked the line against Pitt and forced the Panthers to pass, but the Rockets had no luck with Reyes, who gained 241 yards and scored four times the previous week against Central Florida of the MAC.
After the Rockets went three-and-out, Reyes burst 61 yards through a big hole in the middle of the Toledo line, outrunning two defenders to the right corner of the end zone to give the Orangemen a 10-0 lead with 6:50 left in the opening quarter.
Gradkowski then drove the Rockets to the Syracuse 29 with a nice mix of passes and runs. But on a fourth-and-4 play, defensive tackle Christian Ferrara was not fooled by a screen pass from Gradkowski to Trinity Dawson and tackled him for a 4-yard loss.
Reyes quickly made the Rockets regret the gamble, scoring on a 43-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play for a 17-0 lead just three plays into the second quarter.
Syracuse drove 80 yards in 14 plays before halftime to make it 24-0. Wide receiver Jared Jones began the drive by going 16 yards on a reverse, then made a diving 10-yard catch at the Toledo 3. The drive threatened to stall after quarterback R.J. Anderson fumbled on a keeper on the next play, but Kevin Sampson recovered for Syracuse.
Three plays later, Anderson hit Lenny Cusumano for a 2-yard touchdown on a tight end throwback play on fourth down.
Barber added a 36-yard field goal with 5:02 left in the third quarter before Gradkowski found a wide-open Lance Moore down the left side for a 35-yard score with 54 seconds left in the period. Moore finished with 11 catches for 114 yards.
Gradkowski threw only his second interception of the season when Anthony Smith picked off a desperation fourth-down pass with just over six minutes left in the game.
Anderson's 14-yard touchdown run with 2:58 left completed the rout.
The Rockets' best chance to score in the first half came late in the second quarter. Gradkowski hit Moore with a quick swing pass well behind the line, but Moore's option toss sailed over the head of Terrance Hudson, who was wide open down the right side.