Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Location: Syracuse 28, Louisville 21

SYRACUSE, NY – On Legends Day at the Carrier Dome, it was Orange running back Curtis Brinkley who stole the show, rushing for 166 yards and a touchdown in Syracuse’s surprising 28-21 victory over Louisville. Brinkley set the Syracuse single-season record by rushing for over 100-yards in five consecutive games. The senior averaged 5.0 yards per carry and was exuberant after his team’s win. Brinkley rushed for 166 yards, giving him 899 yards on the season, fourth in the conference. He has become tremendous in short yardage situations, and his leap over the pile knotted the score at seven in the first quarter. Brinkley took to the air twice in critical spots for the Orange—once for a touchdown and another for a key first down as they were in unfamiliar territory, milking the clock late in the game.

“One thing I really like about Brinkley is how he responds to first contact,” said Don McPherson, who was honored at the Carrier Dome for being a member of the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2008. “He really does explode through tackles. You can’t arm-tackle him to bring him down and he changes directions off of tackles as well.”

The Syracuse offensive line had arguably their best game of the season. Led by guard Ryan Durand, the unit was strong throughout the game as the offense was able to run the ball at will, posting a total of 207 rushing yards. Freshman Antwan Bailey rushed for his first career touchdown on a 39-yard scoring scamper in the second quarter.

Syracuse quarterback Cameron Dantley was effective enough, throwing for two touchdowns, both off of play action. On his first touchdown pass, Dantley was able to show off his arm strength, hitting wide out Da’Mon Merkerson for a 38-yard touchdown. Senior fullback Tony Fiammetta caught his first touchdown pass of his career late in the fourth quarter to give the Orange a two-touchdown cushion. Fiametta also delivered a key block on a screen pass to Doug Hogue that went for 39 yards.

“Fiametta has proven with his play (he is one of the top fullbacks). If you want to know how good a fullback is, you really have to watch him, because they’ll make blocks on plays where you don’t really know how important he was,” McPherson said of the Syracuse fullback. “He’s almost like the sixth or seventh lineman when you count the tight end.”

The Louisville offense was less than impressive. Although he was the victim of several dropped passes, Hunter Cantwell was shaky all night. He finished with 214 yards but struggled on third downs. The Cardinals missed a big opportunity when wide receiver Troy Pascley dropped a pass that would have easily led to a score. Instead, Louisville had to punt the ball.

It looked like the Cardinals had caught a break when Syracuse return man Bruce Williams muffed a punt that was recovered by Louisville. However, the Cardinals gave the ball right back when Syracuse defensive end Jared Kimmel forced a fumble. Louisville finished the game with two turnovers and eight penalties that resulted in a loss of 81 yards.

The Orange must have headman Steve Kragthorpe’s number—this is the second straight year that Syracuse has defeated Louisville.

The performance on Saturday may not have been a flashback to the 1987 season when McPherson led the then Orangemen to an 11-0-1 season. McPherson, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy, won both the Davey O’Brien Award and the Maxwell Award that season. The win did mark Syracuse’s first conference home win since 2006 against Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Syracuse University Athletics