SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Ryan Nassib threw a school-record five touchdown passes, and Syracuse pulled away in the second half to beat Maine 38-14 on Saturday night in the Orange's home-opener.
Nassib was 19-for-28 for 260 yards as the Orange (2-1) took control in the third quarter just as they did a year ago against Maine (1-2), a member of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Van Chew had seven catches for 113 yards and one TD, Alec Lemon had five catches for 58 yards and two scores, and tight ends Jose Cruz and Nick Provo each caught a touchdown pass.
Warren Smith scored on a 10-yard run and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Justin Perrillo for Maine, but he lost two critical fumbles that Syracuse converted into touchdowns. Smith finished 20-for-27 for 127 yards.
This was the seventh straight year the Black Bears played a BCS team, and they had a win to show for their efforts, 9-7 over Mississippi State in 2004.
The Black Bears led last year's game against Syracuse 17-13 at the half after successfully executing a pair of fake punts and two onside kicks, and seemed set to pull off another stunner for Division I's second tier.
Despite some early trickery and an early lead, Maine was overwhelmed in the decisive third quarter. After playing the Orange dead-even statistically in the first half, the Black Bears failed to gain a first down in the third period, lost 7 yards rushing, and Smith had only 15 yards passing.
Nassib, who hit Cruz for a crucial touchdown on fourth down in the final minute of the first half to give Syracuse its first lead, continued to take advantage of several blown coverages in the secondary by the Maine defense. The mistakes helped offset plenty by the Orange, who were called for 14 penalties for 111 yards.
Nassib hit Lemon all alone at the 2-yard line for a 20-yard score with 5:16 left in the third quarter, then connected for another 20-yard score to Provo in the final minute of the period for a 31-14 lead.
After Chandler Jones forced a fumble by Smith at the start of the final quarter, Nassib hit Chew for a 21-yard score on the next play for the game's final points.
A year ago, Maine tried to beat Syracuse through the air as Smith passed for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Facing a third-and-goal from the Syracuse 10 early in this one, Smith kept it on the ground, scoring untouched on a quarterback draw up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first.
Nassib hit a wide-open Lemon in the right corner of the end zone to tie it at 7 early in the second quarter.
The Syracuse defense got a little too fired-up when Maine got the ball back. Phillip Thomas was called for a 15-yard penalty for taunting, one of 10 penalties whistled against Syracuse in the sloppy first half. Four plays later, Smith hit a wide-open Perrillo in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
Ross Krautman's 32-yard field goal narrowed the Maine lead to 14-10 and Syracuse struck again in the final minute of the half after Smith lost a fumble at his own 24.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 4, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone gambled and, after a pair of timeouts, it paid off when Nassib rolled right and hit a diving Cruz just inside the pylon for a touchdown.
The play was reviewed, and when the ruling on the field was upheld, Maine coach Jack Cosgrove yelled in dismay at the Big East officials calling the game as the Orange left the field with a 17-14 lead.