The rally from 20 points down represented the greatest Syracuse comeback in the school record books.
TAMPA, Fla. – Syracuse (4-4, 3-1 BIG EAST) erased a 20-point halftime deficit and capped a record-setting comeback withRyan Nassib's one-yard touchdown pass to Alec Lemon in the final seconds to beat USF (2-6, 0-4), 37-36.
The rally from 20 points down represented the greatest Syracuse comeback in the school record books (dating at least as far back as 1942).
Nassib completed 27 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. It was his fourth game of the season with over 300 passing yards. The comeback was the eighth fourth-quarter comeback of Nassib's career and the first in 2012.
Jerome Smith led the Orange running game with a career-best 28 attempts for 127 yards. It was Smith's second consecutive 100-yards rushing effort.
The defense was led by seniors Shamarko Thomas and Deon Goggins, who each totaled nine tackles a piece. Thomas also forced a fumble in the third quarter that set up an Orange touchdown.
Syracuse began its remarkable comeback as soon as it emerged from the halftime break, down 23-3. Nassib engineered a 7-play, 84-yard march that ended on his 31-yard touchdown pass to Jarrod West. Ross Krautman's extra point narrowed the gap to 23-10.
After forcing USF into punt formation, the SU special teams contributed on Durrell Eskridge's kick block that was recovered at the Bulls' 45-yard line. Five plays later the Orange was in the endzone, courtesy of Lemon's five-yard run. Krautman's conversion made it 23-17, USF.
Following the ensuing kickoff, USF running back Demetri Murray fumbled and Shamarko Thomas recovered at the 25-yard line. Nassib's five-yard TD toss to Marcus Sales, and Krautman's point after put Syracuse ahead for the first time in the game, 24-23.
In a matter of 8:50 on the game clock, SU had washed away the 20-point USF advantage.
The hosts regained their composure and the lead when Malkon Bonani kicked a 41-yard field goal with 2:15 left in the quarter, putting USF back ahead, 26-24.
Following Syracuse's first punt of the second half, the Bulls went 64 yards in nine plays and B.J. Daniels connected with Andre Davis on a 30-yard scoring toss. Bonani converted to extend the margin to 33-24 with 10:43 left in the contest.
Again the Orange marched back, this time moving 75 yards on 12 plays. Nassib found Sales for 19 yards and the touchdown and Krautman's extra point made it 33-31, USF, with 7:17 remaining.
Daniels engineered another scoring drive for the Bulls, a possession that ended with eight consecutive runs. Bonani nailed a 47-yard field goal, his fifth three-pointer of the game, and with 1:23 left on the game clock, USF was up 36-31.
The Bulls opened up the game on a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted 4:55 and ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Demetri Murray.
The Orange didn't waste time getting on the score board. On Syracuse's first possession, Krautman kicked a 20-yard field goal, making the score 7-3 at 6:03 in the first quarter. After completing his ninth field goal of the season, Krautman is now tied for fifth in career made field goals at SU with 42.
Maikon Bonani added a 36-yard for USF with 3:12 left in the first quarter, extending the Bull's lead to 10-3.
Bonani kicked his second field goal of the game, this time from the 32-yard line, putting the Bulls up, 13-3 against the Orange at 10:58 in the second quarter. The field goal capped an eight-play, 69-yard scoring drive that included a 53-yard rush by Daniels.
After Krautman hit the upright and missed his 22-yard field goal attempt, the Bulls received the ball on their 20-yard line. On the ensuing play, Lindsey Lamar rushed for an 80-yard touchdown, extending the Bull's lead to 17-points, 20-3, with 5:04 left in the half.
The Bulls ended the first half with a 46-yard field goal by Bonani. Bonani made the attempt with four seconds left in the first half, giving USF a 23-3 lead.
With 1:23 left in the game, Bonani kicked his fifth field goal of the game, this time from 47-yards out. The Bulls were now up, 36-31.
With 1:23 seconds remaining, Nassib marched the Orange down the field. The drive included a 19-yard pass to Sales that set SU up on the USF one-yard line. After the Bull's called a timeout, Nassib found Lemon in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown, securing SU's 37-36 comeback win.
USF quarterback B.J. Daniels completed 17 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown. Daniels also rushed for 134 yards. Lindsey Lamar registered 10 rushes for 145 yards.
The Orange is back in action at Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 3rd at noon (BIG EAST Network). SU returns to the Carrier Dome for a Homecoming contest against Louisville on November 10.
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