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FB : ONSLAUGHT: Syracuse shocks No. 11 West Virginia with outstanding offensive performance

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Despite a 26-point lead over the No. 11 team in the country, Doug Marrone continued to pace. Arms crossed, play card clenched tightly in his right hand, the Syracuse head coach remained stoic late in the fourth quarter as his program inched closer and closer to its biggest win in nine seasons.All around him, his players couldn’t contain their euphoria as they not only beat, but thrashed a West Virginia team thought to be the class of the Big East.With 17 seconds remaining, the headset finally came off. With 10 seconds left, the play card containing Friday’s masterful game plan was folded up and stowed away. And as the final five seconds ticked off the clock, Marrone began his slow jog across the field.But upstairs — in the Syracuse coaches box — the celebration was long underway.‘I was screaming and yelling the whole dang game,’ SU offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. ‘I was like a fan up there.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHackett’s emotions matched those of the Syracuse (5-2, 1-1 Big East) players, as the 14-point underdogs whipped, demolished and manhandled West Virginia en route to a 49-23 upset. The offense was superb against the Mountaineers, putting together its most complete performance of the season behind five total touchdowns by quarterback Ryan Nassib. An efficient and effective unit capitalized on all five of its trips to the red zone, dominating the clock to keep the Mountaineers’ (5-2, 1-1 Big East) offense on the sideline.A crowd of 45,265 — the largest since Marrone’s first game as head coach — was treated to a victory over the highest-ranked opponent since Syracuse knocked off No. 8 Virginia Tech in triple overtime back in 2002.Syracuse took control of the game from the onset, as Nassib brilliantly assembled lengthy touchdown drives to build a 14-3 lead in the opening 20 minutes. The first scoring drive was 14 plays, covered 84 yards and took more than six minutes off the clock. The second was 14 plays, covered 80 yards and spanned 5:53.It was, essentially, a perfect beginning.‘The one thing we were able to do tonight was keep things manageable,’ Marrone said. ‘I think when we can keep things manageable, then you have a chance to be successful.’The first two drives were defined by Syracuse’s ability take advantage of manageable third-down situations. SU converted four third downs on those first two possessionscombined, all of which were 5 yards or less.Hackett made full use of his offensive personnel to keep the West Virginia defense off balance. On the first touchdown drive alone, eight different skill players touched the ball for the Orange — in addition to Nassib.By the time the game ended, Nassib (24-of-32, 229 yards, four touchdowns) had spread the ball around to nine different receivers. Three different running backs combined for 178 yards rushing.‘We had a great plan,’ Nassib said. ‘We did a good job mixing up pass and run. The running game was doing well, and usually when that does well in our system that opens the passing game. And that’s really how we were able to move the ball so well.’The mixture worked brilliantly, especially in the red zone. Both Marrone and Hackett said they saw something on tape that the SU tight ends could exploit inside the West Virginia half of the field. And by game’s end, all four of Nassib’s touchdown passes found the hands of either Nick Provo or David Stevens.Provo, Syracuse’s starting tight end, gashed the middle of the West Virginia defense for six catches — three of which were touchdowns. He was left alone in the back of the end zone off a play-action fake for his first score, left alone along the left sideline courtesy of a blown coverage for his second and hauled in another play-action pass on a crossing route to give the Orange its largest lead of the game.David Stevens hauled in a 29-yard touchdown when he, too, was left uncovered by the Mountaineers along the sideline.‘They have a great offensive coach as far as game plan,’ West Virginia linebacker Najee Goode said. ‘He’s one of the best that we’ve played against. I’m not going to take anything away from Syracuse.’The play of the Orange’s tight ends was coupled with timely runs by Antwon Bailey, who finished with more than 100 yards for the fourth straight game, and acrobatic catches by Dorian Graham, Jarrod West and Alec Lemon.An offense that succeeded on whatever play was called hung 49 points on one of the top 20 defenses in the country. An offense that turned the ball over five times against Rutgers was reborn only three weeks later, as Friday’s fluidity and grace culminated in the team’s highest point total since 2003.So following Marrone’s humble jog across the field when the game was over, the three pats on the back from West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen were an acknowledgement of a job well done. Holgorsen’s Mountaineers had been thoroughly beaten, and Marrone and the Orange deserved all the credit.‘They outplayed us and outcoached us,’ Holgorsen said. ‘It’s as simple as that.’mjcohe02@syr.edu Published on October 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13center_img Commentslast_img read more