- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Perhaps it was predestined that the coach from the Bronx would end up on top.
Doug Marrone -- who was born and raised near Yankee Stadium, and whose grandfather worked as an usher at the old Stadium for more than a decade -- received the first Gatorade bath at the new Stadium in the closing seconds of Syracuse's 36-34 win over Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl.
Marrone was emotional when describing the whole experience after the game.
"Here I am, born and raised in the Bronx and grew up a Yankee fan," Marrone said. "And there was a moment out there tonight when I truly almost did break down and go to my knees, because it truly is a dream come true."
In just his second year at the helm at Syracuse, Marrone piloted the Orange to their first bowl game since 2004, and their first winning season since 2001. And they capped it off with a dramatic victory at this unique venue in front of 38,274 fans -- the vast majority of whom were wearing orange.
The game itself was a see-saw battle -- neither team led by more than a touchdown -- dominated by the two offensive units. There were no turnovers and only five punts in the game.
In essence, the outcome hinged on one play. Trailing 36-28 late in the fourth quarter, Kansas State scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to two with 1:13 remaining, and had to attempt a two-point conversion to try to tie the game. But Kansas State wide receiver Adrian Hilburn was flagged for excessive celebration when he made a military-style salute after the touchdown.
The penalty turned a three-yard two-point attempt into an 18-yard two-point attempt, which predictably failed, and Syracuse ran out the clock from there.
The Kansas State players and head coach Bill Snyder did not agree with the call after the game. Marrone said he didn't even see what happened. "I really didn't," Marrone said. "My mind was going on to the next play -- the two-point play -- making sure the defense was getting ready for it."
Controversy aside, it was a great performance by Marrone's team, led by senior running back Delone Carter.
Carter -- who made a bold proclamation prior to the game, saying he and the rest of the Syracuse offense were "going to dominate" -- backed that up by rushing for a career-high 198 yards on 27 carries, scoring two touchdowns.
"We knew what we wanted to do, I knew what I wanted to do, and me and my O-line went out and did it," Carter said.
Carter also moved into third place on Syracuse's all-time rushing list (3,104 yards), passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Csonka.
Another Syracuse standout? Junior wide receiver Marcus Sales. Sales, who did not record his first catch of the season until the team's fifth game, had five catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns in this one.
Sales talked after the game about how great the atmosphere was in the stadium, despite the sub-40-degree temperature.
"It was crazy," Sales said. "I never experienced nothing like this. It just felt real good to play in Yankee Stadium. A lot of people don't get to do this."
Very true -- and a thought certainly not lost on his head coach.
"I thank these players," Marrone said, "for making a simple kid from the Bronx's dream come true."
3dSam Khan Jr.