SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Justin Burke completed 13 of 25 passes for 143 yards and Jeremy Wright ran for 98 yards as Louisville defeated Syracuse 28-20 on Saturday to keep the Orange from becoming eligible for a bowl.
Just one win away from getting to the postseason for the first time since 2004, Syracuse (6-3, 3-2 Big East) wasn't able to defeat the Cardinals (5-4, 2-2) on its own turf.
Louisville's win broke its 12-game losing streak in Big East games on the road.
The Cardinals played without both their starting quarterback and running back. Quarterback Adam Froman suffered a thigh contusion in Louisville's 20-3 loss to Pittsburgh last week, while running back Bilal Powell left the same game with swelling on his right knee.
Neither loss proved to be much of a problem for the Cardinals. Burke, who had only thrown seven passes this season as a backup, filled in admirably for Froman.
Syracuse was in good position to score in the first quarter with the ball at the Cardinals' 41. Daniel Brown hit Ryan Nassib on the next play, forcing a fumble that Antwone Canady recovered for Louisville. That set up a 28-yard touchdown run by Wright to give Louisville the early 7-0 lead.
Syracuse tied the game on its next possession when Nassib connected with Alec Lemon for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Delone Carter provided plenty of rushing yards for Syracuse. Carter ran for 107 yards, passing Hall of Famer Floyd Little for fifth place on Syracuse's all-time list. Still, it wasn't enough to give the Orange the win.
Penalties were again a problem for the Orange, as they have been for much of the season. A facemask penalty on a second-and-9 play gave Louisville 15 yards to the Syracuse 32. A 29-yard Burke pass to tight end Josh Chichester moved the Cardinals to the 3, and after a delay of game they scored on Burke's 8-yard pass to Andrell Smith.
The Orange tied it again 5:42 before halftime when Carter scored on an 8-yard run.
Syracuse took its only lead of the game 34 seconds before halftime on a 23-yard Ross Krautman field goal after forcing a fumble deep in Louisville territory. The Cardinals had a first-and-10 at their 25 when defensive end Mikhail Marinovich stripped the ball from Burke and Chandler Jones recovered it.
The Cardinals regained the lead, 21-17, on the opening possession of the third quarter when Wright took a pitch from Burke to score on a 12-yard run. The Cardinals, who entered the game first in the Big East with an average of 197.5 rushing yards, finished with 160.
Syracuse nearly tied the game on its next possession, but Lemon dropped Nassib's 30-yard pass in the end zone. The Orange settled for a 42-yard field goal by Krautman to make it 21-20.
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong gambled at the start of the fourth quarter, opting to go for a first down on fourth-and-4 from the Syracuse 33. The move paid off when Burke threw a 12-yard pass for the first down and then a 21-yard pass to Chichester for a 28-20 lead.
The touchdown capped a 90-yard drive for the Cardinals.