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Syracuse takes down No. 11 West Virginia

Oct 22, 2011 - 5:29 AM Syracuse, NY (Sports Network) - Ryan Nassib threw four touchdown passes to his tight ends and Syracuse delivered a 49-23 upset of No. 11 West Virginia on Friday, scoring more points than it ever has in the 66-year history of the rivalry.

Nassib was 24-of-32 for 229 yards, exploiting a porous Mountaineer defense with three touchdown passes to Nick Provo and one to David Stevens. He also ran for a score.

Antwon Bailey rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown for The Orange (5-2, 1-1 Big East), who outscored the Mountaineers 28-7 after they had pulled within five points early in the third quarter.

Dorian Graham added a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Syracuse's second win in a row over their conference rivals.

"It is a big win," said Nassib. "We were able to keep the [Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy], which we used as extra inspiration this week. It is something that now we know what we can do, something that can bring us forward."

Geno Smith passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice and sacked four times as West Virginia (5-2, 1-1) had its two-game winning streak snapped while losing in the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2001.

Shawne Alston's one-yard touchdown run got West Virginia within 21-16 in the third quarter, but Syracuse scored 21 straight points to put the game away, with Nassib having little trouble working against the Mountaineer secondary.

"They beat us today on all three sides of the ball," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "They outplayed us and outcoached us. It's as simple as that."

Stevens was wide-open on the left side for a 29-yard touchdown to make it 28-16 and Provo helped set up his second touchdown of the game with a 24-yard catch.

Provo was then left wide-open in the left side of the end zone three plays later for a 10-yard TD.

After safety Phillip Thomas intercepted Smith two plays into the ensuing West Virginia drive and returned it 24 yards, Provo scored his third TD after hauling in a five-yard pass and carrying it inside the right pylon one-handed.

The play, originally ruled a no-catch because referees saw Provo bobble the ball as he hit the ground, was overturned after a review, ending a superb game by the Syracuse tight ends.

"I thought they were going to kind of adjust to it," Provo said on the plan to heavily involve the tight ends. "They didn't and it worked out in our favor."

Smith connected with Brad Starks on a 25-yard touchdown pass, but Bailey broke off a 50-yard run on the ensuing possession and scored on a three-yard rush to make it 49-23.

Syracuse's previous high score against West Virginia came in a 45-0 win in 1960.

"I don't know how many answers I can give you. We made plays, the kids executed," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. "They played extremely hard. They always have. We made plays at the right time and we kept them off balance. They're a very good football team and we won a game. The story lies within those players."

The Orange upped their lead in the all-time series to 32-27 and snapped a four-game home losing streak to the Mountaineers.

The rout started early, when West Virginia bit on a play-fake and Nassib threw to a wide-open Provo in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 Syracuse lead in the first quarter to cap a 14-play drive.

The Mountaineers' ensuing drive stalled at the Syracuse 10 and Tyler Bitancurt kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 1:06 left in the first.

Syracuse responded with another 14-play touchdown drive, with Nassib busting through the line for a one-yard score to give the Orange a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.

West Virginia's Stedman Bailey won a jump-ball with cornerback Kevyn Scott on the left sideline and came down with his feet inbounds, then tip-toed to keep them in to start a 64-yard touchdown catch, but the extra point hit the left upright.

Despite being shaken up on a catch earlier in the second quarter, Graham returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, making a nice cut to the right at midfield to scamper untouched for a 21-9 Syracuse lead.

West Virginia was driving deep in Syracuse territory after that, but safety Jeremi Wilkes intercepted Smith at the goal line.

Game Notes

Both teams were coming off a bye...West Virginia had won eight straight in the series before dropping the last two games...the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy has been presented to the victor in the annual series each year since 1993...West Virginia wide receiver Ivan McCartney suffered an apparent left knee injury after a play late in the second quarter where he was running for a pass in the right side of the end zone.