Rutgers 19, Syracuse 16, OT
San San Te kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second overtime and seconds later the Rutgers defense recovered a fumble by Syracuse's Antwon Bailey, giving the Scarlet Knights a 19-16 victory Saturday in the Big East opener for both teams.
Bailey began the game by losing a fumble and ended it just seconds after defensive back Khaseem Greene limped off the field with an injury. He was replaced by Edmond Laryea, who forced Bailey's fumble.
Bailey appeared to be down on a television replay, but the ruling on the field was upheld, sending the Scarlet Knights (3-1, 1-0 Big East) into a frenzy after they had huddled along their sideline waiting.
Syracuse (3-2, 1-0) had overtime wins over Wake Forest and Toledo and set a Big East standard with its third in five games. Pitt had three overtime games in its first eight games in 2004.
In the first overtime, both teams faced fourth-and-1 inside the 5-yard line and opted to kick field goals, with Ross Krautman converting from 19 yards for the Orange and Te from 27.
It was fitting the game ended on a mistake. There were nine turnovers overall, including three lost fumbles and an interception by Rutgers, the teams combined to miss five field goals, and Krautman had an extra point blocked.
Rutgers had more than one chance to end it in regulation after blocking Krautman's 44-yard field-goal attempt. Marcus Cooper returned the kick 60 yards for a touchdown, but a personal foul allowed Syracuse to survive for the moment.
Trailing 13-6 with time winding down in regulation, the Scarlet Knights gambled on fourth-and-9 from the Syracuse 33 and Gary Nova hit a falling Quron Pratt for 13 yards on the right side. Jawan Jamison gained 17 yards on three carries and Nova hit Mohamed Sanu for a 3-yard touchdown pass to tie it with 2:09 left.
Ryan Nassib then threw his third interception of the game, and Steve Beauharnais returned it 44 yards to the Syracuse 34. But Te missed a 44-yard field goal with 6 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Sanu, who had a conference-record 16 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-26 win over Ohio last week, had seven catches for 65 yards and one score.
After Krautman missed a 39-yard field goal for the Orange midway through the third quarter, Rutgers got a huge break when Syracuse was called for roughing the kicker on a fourth-and-22 play. That drive ended with Nova trying to throw while falling backward and fumbling. Marquis Spruill recovered for Syracuse at the Rutgers 16.
Not to be outdone, the Orange gave it right back when Nassib's pass at the goal line ricocheted in the air and was intercepted by David Rowe, who returned it 27 yards.
Rutgers entered the game with a plus-10 turnover margin after forcing 13 in three games, and the Scarlet Knights kept the trend going, recovering their ninth fumble on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Bailey had a nice 8-yard gain over left tackle but lost the ball when Jamal Merrell swooped in for the tackle. Merrell's helmet sent the ball flying out of Bailey's arms, and Merrell recovered at the Syracuse 30.
After an incompletion, the Orange returned the favor as freshman linebacker Dyshawn Davis made a crushing hit on Jamison as soon as he took the handoff in the backfield. The ball bounced right to Syracuse cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson, and he returned the fumble 66 yards for a touchdown less than a minute into the game for a 7-0 lead.
Bailey, held to 20 yards on seven carries in the first half, broke a 36-yard run around the left side on Syracuse's first possession of the second half to set up his own 3-yard touchdown run. But Merrell blocked the extra point for Rutgers, and that proved pivotal in the end.
Bailey finished with 124 yards on 23 carries, while Nassib was 15 of 32 for 169 yards and three interceptions and was sacked twice. Nova was 14 of 24 for 122 yards and one TD for Rutgers.
Nassib also was intercepted by defensive tackle Justin Francis, which set up Te's 27-yard field goal midway through the second.
Rutgers left the field at halftime trailing 7-3 despite holding the ball for nearly twice as long as the Orange and holding them to only two first downs and 88 total yards offensively on 20 plays.