SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- All Syracuse wanted was one last chance.
Kolby Smith denied it.
Smith rushed for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns, the
second on a 31-yard run with less than two minutes left, and No. 6
Louisville held off the Orange 28-13 Saturday.
Despite getting called for nine penalties, Syracuse (3-5, 0-3
Big East) was in the game after Perry Patterson hit Mike Williams
for a 37-yard touchdown to move the Orange within 21-13 with just
more than 5 minutes remaining.
And after George Stripling mishandled the ensuing kickoff,
pinning the Cardinals at their 7, the Carrier Dome crowd sensed an
upset in the making.
But Smith crushed their hopes, gaining 77 yards on seven carries
and scoring on a burst off left tackle to seal a crucial victory.
"We didn't want to give the ball back, you never know what can
happen in a football game," said Smith, who wears a T-shirt with
"Gamebreaker" emblazoned on the back. "Momentum can shift just
like that. I wanted to make sure the ball and fate stayed in our
"We needed to stop them one more time," said Syracuse head
coach Greg Robinson, who was the most exasperated he's been since
taking over prior to last season. "He busted that run. That made
you want to vomit."
Anthony Allen scored on a 2-yard run in the final minute of the
first half and added a 1-yard TD run on the first play of the
fourth quarter to help the Cardinals (7-0, 2-0 Big East) win their
fourth road game and remain unbeaten heading into a showdown with
No. 4 West Virginia in 12 days.
"It was a good win for us," Louisville head coach Bobby
Petrino said. "This is just the position we wanted to be in going
into the West Virginia game. We're looking forward to it now."
A week after squeaking past Cincinnati 23-17, Louisville was
stymied in the first half by a Syracuse defense that had allowed a
school-record 457 rushing yards last week in a 41-17 road loss to
the Mountaineers and had given up 1,487 yards and 96 points in the
last three games.
Syracuse limited Louisville to seven points, its lowest output
in any half this season, nearly intercepted two passes, registered
two sacks and forced a fumble by quarterback Brian Brohm.
"We need to start better," Petrino said. "That's one thing we
really have to look at."
The Orange offense didn't take full advantage of the surge by
the defense, which never allowed any of the signature long plays
that Louisville thrives on, and that proved critical.
After driving to the Louisville 8 late in the first quarter,
Syracuse settled for a 27-yard field goal by Patrick Shadle. And
after Brohm lost the ball at the Cardinals' 12, the Orange were
called for a 10-yard holding penalty on first down, Patterson was
sacked on a third-and-8 play, and Shadle kicked a 35-yard field
Delone Carter also fumbled at the Louisville 5 in the second
quarter, killing another Syracuse drive.
"It was huge," Petrino said. "We could have been down 17-0 or
14-0. Our defense did a great job and rallied up."
Syracuse's slim lead was erased quickly once Louisville got
untracked. Smith had runs of 13 and 35 yards, and Brohm completed
three passes for 34 yards to 6-foot-6 wideout Mario Urrutia, the
last a 10-yarder to set up Allen's first touchdown.
Before that 80-yard drive, the Cardinals had gained just 63
yards in 20 plays.
"One thing about a team like this is you don't want too many
exposures," Robinson said. "They get enough looks at you. You can
only go so long. For a while it was real good."
Syracuse went three-and-out to start the second half -- getting
pinned deep in its own end after Patterson was sacked on
consecutive plays -- and Louisville took control.
Stripling gained 32 yards on a screen pass to help set up
Smith's 5-yard touchdown run for a 14-6 Louisville lead and Brohm's
30-yard pass to Gary Barnidge set up Allen's 1-yard run that put
the Cardinals up by 15.
Any thoughts of a rout were quickly dashed, though. Syracuse,
held scoreless in the third quarter for the fifth time this season,
finally scored after linebacker Kelvin Smith intercepted Brohm on a
first-and-15 play from the Syracuse 16.
Patterson completed a 30-yard pass to tight end Tom Ferron after
rolling away from trouble on a fourth-and-3 play, then hit Mike
Williams in the left corner of the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown
to move Syracuse within 21-13 with 5:09 left.
That's when the Orange defense was unable to rise one more time
and Syracuse lost its 10th straight conference game.
"You don't want to go out like that cause that doesn't show how
the game went," said Smith, who also recovered Brohm's fumble but
was unable to pick it up and score. "It hurts, man."