Louisville 10, Syracuse 9
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)Adam Froman hit Josh Chichester for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:24 remaining to lift Louisville to a 10-9 win over Syracuse on Saturday.
The victory snapped a nine-game conference losing streak for the Cardinals (4-6, 1-4 Big East), who ended a two-year hex against the Orange (3-7, 0-5) with a handful of big plays in the final minutes.
Trent Guy's 44-yard punt return set up the Cardinals in Syracuse territory before Chichester outjumped a Syracuse defender for Louisville's first touchdown in nine quarters. Cornerback Andrew Robinson picked off Syracuse quarterback Rob Paulus on the ensuing possession to seal it.
Delone Carter ran for 129 yards and a score for Syracuse, but the Orange botched the extra point, giving Louisville just enough room to pull it out in an otherwise forgettable game between Big East also-rans.
Syracuse outgained Louisville 266-151, held the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer and dominated Louisville's offensive line all day, but the Orange had no answer for Louisville punt returner/wide receiver Trent Guy.
Guy appeared to give the Cardinals a 10-9 lead early in the fourth quarter on an electrifying 95-yard punt return. The play was overturned by replay officials who ruled that Guy's right knee scraped the turf as he tried to reverse his position.
Redemption came one possession later, when Guy hauled in a punt at the Louisville 11, swung wide then cut up the field before being tripped up at the Syracuse 45 with 3:14 to go.
A couple of runs and a Syracuse penalty moved the ball to the Syracuse 28 before Froman - who missed the last two games with an elbow injury - avoided the Syracuse rush and scampered for 13 yards.
Froman stepped back and threw the ball in the direction of the 6-foot-9 Chichester, who snatched the ball out of the air to give the Cardinals the lead.
Syracuse had a chance to reply when Mike Jones returned the ensuing kickoff to the Syracuse 46. A scramble by Paulus got the Orange in Louisville territory, but his next pass deflected off a his receiver and into the hands of Robinson, a converted wide receiver who moved to the secondary earlier this season because of depth issues.
Three snaps put an end to more than a year of frustration for the Cardinals, who hadn't won a Big East game since knocking off South Florida last October.
The streak included a loss to the Orange, who have been a painful thorn in Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe's side the last two seasons.
A stunning 38-35 by the Orange here two years ago signaled the first real cracks in Louisville's foundation after Kragthorpe took over for Bobby Petrino following an Orange Bowl season in 2006.
For the first 57 minutes on Saturday, Syracuse appeared ready to seal Kragthorpe's fate. The Cardinals could do little right offensively and spent most of the game finding ways to squander good fortune. A touchdown pass from Froman to Chichester in the third quarter was called back due to pass interference and several other promising drives were doomed by penalties.
Syracuse wasn't much better, but the Orange appeared to be in position to win after a Donte Davis punt return early in the fourth quarter that gave the Orange the ball at the Louisville 30. An 18-yard burst by Carter put the ball at the Louisville 5, and he bolted over right tackle two plays later to give Syracuse the lead.
The snap on the extra point slipped through the fingers of holder Rob Long to leave the edge at 9-3, just enough to let the Cardinals escape.