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12/29/2012 9:41 PM EST
Syracuse plows through WVU and snow, 38-14
SYRACUSE 38, WEST VIRGINIA 14

By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The weather made passing at the Pinstripe Bowl
perilous, so Syracuse sent Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith
dashing through West Virginia and the snow.



Gulley ran for a career-best 208 yards and had three touchdowns,
Smith added 157 yards, and the Orange bid a blustery farewell to
the Big East with a 38-14 victory Saturday.



Syracuse (8-5) will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on a
roll after finishing this season with six wins in its last seven
games, capped by its second postseason victory at Yankee Stadium
in the last three years.



In a bowl played in a baseball stadium, with weather more suited
for a playoff game in Green Bay, the team that plays in a dome
ended up being better equipped to handle the elements.



"The football Gods brought snow," said Smith, who carried a
season-high 30 times. "The football Gods from Syracuse brought
us some snow and it changed even West Virginia's game. They had
to run a little bit more than they were used to. We ran the ball
a little bit more than we're used to and did what we were
supposed to do."



Syracuse finished with a season-high 369 yards on the ground and
beat its former Big East rival from West Virginia, now playing
in the Big 12, for a third straight time.



"They just did a better job than us at the line of scrimmage,"
Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. "To be in a game like
this when you've got to rely on your run defense to help you win
and you're not able to do it, it's frustrating."



Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for two touchdown
passes for West Virginia (7-6), but the Mountaineers'
quarterback also was sacked in the end zone in the first half
and called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the
third quarter to give Syracuse a second safety.



Smith, who was an early Heisman Trophy front-runner as the
Mountaineers got off to a 5-0 start this season, was 16 for 26
for 197 yards in the final game of his record-breaking career.
The NFL awaits.



Same goes for Ryan Nassib, though Syracuse didn't ask much of
its talented senior quarterback. He threw two touchdown passes
and an interception. His most impressive feat on this day was
surviving being driven into the cold turf by Terence Garvin on a
sack in the first half. Nassib missed only one play.



"It's my last game, man, nothing's going to take me out," he
said.



Especially against a West Virginia team the Orange felt didn't
give them much credit after two straight victories over the
Mountaineers.



"It was about us going out there and getting respect," tackle
Justin Pugh said. "They didn't give us any respect. We kind of
said three strikes you're out. Beat them three straight times,
so they really can't say anything now."



Snow fell just about all game, giving most of the field a white
dusting. Fans were bundled and players not in the game tried to
do the same. It took a while for those potent offenses - both
ranked in the top 25 nationally in yards per game - to heat up,
which seemed appropriate considering the conditions.



"Cold. Cold," said Jerome Smith, a junior from Delaware. "I
never got a chance to play in the snow, but it was good."



His running mate from Akron, Ohio, had just a bit more
experience playing in wintry weather.



"In pee-wees I played in some (snow) like this but not in high
school," said Gulley, who carried 25 times. "It was fun."



A goal-line stand by West Virginia in the second quarter kept
Syracuse out of the end zone, but set up the Orange for a
scoring run.



Left at the 1, the Mountaineers tried to pass out of their end
zone, but Geno Smith was smothered by blitzing linebackers
Cameron Lynch and Siriki Diabate to make it 5-0 - a baseball
score, of course.



The Orange followed that up with a 33-yard touchdown run by
Gulley to make it 12-0 with 6:07 left in the second.



The Mountaineers responded with their first sustained drive.
Bailey took a quick pass, darted and broke tackles, and scooted
32 yards to the end zone to make it 12-7.



The Orange extended the lead to 12 to start the second half when
they caught a break - and a touchdown pass. Nassib's throw was
tipped around the goal line, but floated safely into the waiting
arms of intended receiver Beckett Wales for a 10-yard score.



West Virginia appeared to answer with a touchdown of its own.
Andrew Buie broke free for a 28-yard TD run on fourth-and-2. Not
so fast. A holding call on the Mountaineers wiped out the play
and sent Holgorsen on to the field screaming at the officials.



It didn't help. Instead of a touchdown, a punt.



Holgorsen had nothing to say about the call and was more
disappointed with how his team responded.



"We did a poor job of continuing to play. A poor job of
overcoming some things," he said.



Moments later another close call, this time on a fumble by Geno
Smith which was reviewed to determine if it was an incomplete
pass, went Syracuse's way, and again the Orange capitalized.



On the next play, Gulley broke through the line, bounced to the
outside and went 67 yards for a touchdown to make it 26-7 with
6:52 left in the third.



West Virginia wouldn't let Syracuse pull away. Smith found
Bailey deep down the sideline, beating one-on-one coverage for a
29-yard score 1:11 later.



Back came the Orange, nine plays, 70 yards, with Gulley taking a
swing pass from Nassib 10 yards to make it 33-14.



From there the 60th meeting between these teams, but first in a
bowl, was a romp in the snow for Syracuse.



---



Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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