(Thursday, December 30th)
Final Score: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34
Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Marcus Sales caught three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, and Syracuse held on for a 36-34 win over Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at new Yankee Stadium.
Sales caught five passes for 172 yards and Ryan Nassib went 13-for-21 passing for 239 yards for the Orange (8-5), who played in their first bowl game since a 51-14 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl. It is Syracuse's first postseason win since the 2001 Insight Bowl -- a 26-3 defeat of Kansas State.
"It was a big win for the entire program," said Sales. "This is what we needed to state the fact that we're back on the map. Hopefully we can carry this over to next season."
Running back Delone Carter had a huge game, totaling 27 carries for 198 yards and two touchdowns for Syracuse, which had lost its final two regular season games.
"The game plan the whole game was to run the ball," said Carter. "In the second half I knew I had to take it to another level so I put my shoulders down and ran hard."
Daniel Thomas finished with three scores and 90 yards on 22 carries for the Wildcats (7-6), whose last appearance in a bowl contest was in 2006, when they dropped a 37-10 contest to Rutgers in the Texas Bowl.
"I'm pretty disappointed in the way it ended," said Thomas. "You put a lot of hard work in this game. For the seniors its a hard way to go out so it's a pretty bad experience."
Carson Coffman threw two touchdown passes while completing 17-of-23 throws for 228 yards for Kansas State, which dropped three of its last four games.
This was the first bowl game in the Bronx since the Gotham Bowl was held at the old Yankee Stadium on December 15, 1962. That contest saw Nebraska take down Miami-Florida.
With Kansas State holding a one-point lead after Thomas' third score of the game, Nassib went deep and hit Sales in stride for a 44-yard score. The team went for two due to a missed extra point on its previous score, but the pass was broken up and it was a 33-28 contest with 7:52 to play.
The Wildcats got into the red zone on their ensuing touch, but faced a 4th- and-5 at the 11 and lined up for a field goal. The team opted for the fake run, but Syracuse wasn't fooled and stuffed the play to get the ball back.
Carter ran for 60 yards on the following play to the Kansas State 26. Several plays later, Ross Krautman booted a 40-yard field goal for a 36-28 game with 3:08 to go.
Kansas State converted a fourth down on its next touch. Facing a 1st-and-10 at the 30, Coffman tossed a short pass to the right side for Adrian Hilburn, who broke a tackle and raced into the end zone to make it a 36-34 game.
However, Hilburn was called for an unsportsmanlike call for excessive celebration in the end zone when he saluted after scoring, and the 15-yard penalty pushed the two-point attempt back to the 18-yard line. Coffman's pass fell incomplete ,and Kansas State had to try for the onside kick.
On the attempt, Kansas State recovered the ball, but it had failed to move the required 10 yards, and the ball was handed to Syracuse, which killed the rest of the clock for the win.
The Wildcats had the lead just 28 seconds into the contest. On the second play after the kickoff, Thomas took a handoff inside, cut out to the left and raced down the sideline for a 51-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
After an exchange of punts, Syracuse got into Kansas State territory, but opted to go for it on 4th-and-9, where Nassib was sacked.
The Orange, though held Kansas State to a three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 24. After Carter took a carry for 24 yards, the team used a flea-flicker with Nassib hitting Sales in stride on a 52-yard score to tie the game with 3:17 left in the first.
Kansas State marched the ball back down the field and got into field goal position, but Josh Cherry's 38-yard attempt barely missed to the right.
Syracuse then took the lead with an eight-play drive that covered 79 yards and was capped when Nassib hit Sales over the middle on a short pass; the receiver took it into the end zone on a 36-yard score for a 14-7 advantage with 9:35 left in the second.
After an exchange of punts, Kansas State found itself with the ball at its own 27. Seven plays later, Thomas took a direct snap out to the left and raced to the end zone from 10 yards out to tie the game with 1:51 left in the first half.
Syracuse started the second half with the ball and used seven straight rushes to reach the end zone after Carter took the final handoff untouched around the left end on a seven-yard score.
Kansas State answered on its next possession as a 65-yard drive was capped on the 10th play when Coffman found Chris Harper in the back of the end zone from 10 yards away to tie the game with 6:33 left in the third.
Carter ran for a 15-yard touchdown with 2:11 left in the third, but a bad snap on the extra point resulted in a missed kick, and it was a 27-21 game.
Again the Wildcats had an answer to take the lead back. On 4th-and-goal at the one-yard line, the option was run out to the right, and Coffman tossed it to Thomas, who took it in for a 28-27 lead with 11:03 to play.
Syracuse improved its bowl record to 13-9-1, and its eight victories are the most for the school since it won 10 in 2001...The 498 yards of total offense for Syracuse was a season high and a bowl record for the school...Nassib finished the season with 202 completions, surpassing the school single-season record of 202 set by Greg Paulus in 2009...Sales and Carter both had career highs in yards in the game...The Wildcats fell to 6-8 in bowl games, having lost their last three postseason contests...Syracuse has won two of the three bowl games between these two school, with KSU's only victory coming in a 35-18 contest in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.
12/30 22:13:39 ET