SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Damien Rhodes scored on a 2-yard run in
the second overtime, then Syracuse's defense stopped Pittsburgh on
fourth-and-1, sending the Orange to a dramatic 38-31 victory
The game was big for both teams. Pitt (5-3, 3-2 Big East) was
looking to stay in the hunt for the Big East title and a BCS bowl
berth. Instead, the Orange (5-4, 3-1) moved into second place
behind No. 15 West Virginia (8-1, 4-0) and kept alive their hopes
of making a bowl game for the first time in three years.
In the first overtime, Tyler Palko hit Joe DelSardo with a
9-yard scoring pass for Pitt, but Perry Patterson tied it for
Syracuse with a 3-yard run.
The Orange had the ball first in the second extra period and,
with starting tailback Walter Reyes out with a back injury, Rhodes
became the workhorse. He ran the ball six times in seven plays,
including a 17-yard gain around the left side to set up his scoring
run. Rhodes finished with 103 yards on 23 carries.
Pitt gained only 4 yards on its first two downs before DelSardo
made a great diving catch on third down, coming up just shy of the
first-down marker. Linebacker Kellen Pruitt and safety Diamond
Ferri then stopped Raymond Kirkley for no gain off left tackle.
That dropped Pitt to 2-1 in OT games this season.
Collin Barber kicked a 27-yard field goal with 71 seconds left
in regulation for the Orange's only points of the second half -- and
their first successful field goal after six straight misses over a
three-game span. Pitt had a chance to win, but Josh Cummings' FG
attempt missed wide left from 51 yards on the final play of
Cummings gave Pitt a 24-21 lead with a 24-yard field goal late
in the third quarter.
It was the last home game for Reyes, a senior co-captain, and he
made the most of it until injuring his back about 5 minutes into
the second half. Reyes gained 123 yards on 17 carries to extend his
Carrier Dome record for rushing yards to 2,239 in 24 games. He also
scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter to tie Floyd Little for
the most career touchdowns at Syracuse with 46.
Syracuse outgained Pitt 336-185 in the first half but led only
21-13 at the break and couldn't get anything going in the second
half. Pitt tied the game at 21 midway through the third when Palko
hit tight end Erik Gill with a 15-yard TD pass and the 2-point
After Reyes gave Syracuse an early lead, Pitt drove 80 yards in
six plays to make it 7-6 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter.
Kirkley started the drive with a 30-yard run, Tim Murphy gained
another 17 yards, and Gill caught an 18-yard pass from Palko to the
Syracuse 5. Kirkley scored up the middle on the next play, but a
bad snap cost the Panthers the extra point.
Midway through the second, Reyes burst off right tackle for 57
yards, and Patterson hit fullback Breyone Evans with a 5-yard
scoring pass on third down for a 14-6 lead.
After Pitt went three-and-out, freshman Joe Fields replaced
Patterson at quarterback. On his only play of the game, Fields
threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jared Jones, who adjusted nicely
to the underthrown ball near the Pitt 25 and outraced cornerback
Jemeel Brady down the right side into the end zone.
Just when the game seemed to be slipping away from the Panthers,
Greg Lee made a spectacular one-handed catch near the Syracuse 15
and ran into the end zone to complete a 57-yard scoring play with
1:42 left in the half.
Lee caught nine passes for 188 yards for the Panthers, while
Jones had four catches for 136 yards for the Orange.