ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – West Virginia Mountaineers (8-3 overall, 6-3 Big 12) and Syracuse Orange (9-3 overall, 6-2 ACC) faced off at Camping World Stadium Friday for this year’s Camping World Bowl. The Mountaineers came in leaning more strongly on their passing game and were down four offensive starters, while Orange came in with a run game advantage.
West Virginia started off strong in the first quarter by comparison. They started early with three plays and a three-yard gain while Syracuse had seven plays for an 11-yard loss, although Syracuse had one sack in comparison to West Virginia’s two. At 9:18 in the first, West Virginia safety Josh Norwood went down in visible pain, forcing a timeout.
With just less than seven minutes left in the first, the Mountaineers were first on the board with a field goal from the 28-yard line, making the score 3-0.
Syracuse answered on their next drive. Wide receiver Jamal Custis brought Syracuse into the red zone with a 44-yard catch from Dungey. Two plays later, Syracuse finished the job with a four-yard rush by Andre Szmyt for the first touchdown of the game, making the score 7-3.
Early in the second quarter West Virginia’s Kennedy McKoy scrambled for three yards for their touchdown, putting them in the lead with a 9-7 score. Syracuse reclaimed the lead nearly halfway through the second quarter with another touchdown, and unlike West Virginia, they made their extra point, making the score 14-9. West Virginia answered and closed out scoring in the first half with Evan Staley’s 36-yard field goal, making the score 14-12 at halftime.
Third quarter was field goal city: all three scores in the third were field goals. Staley struck early with a 44-yard field goal, Syracuse’s Szmyt answered with a 39-yard field goal, and Staley returned with a 49-yard field goal. By the end of the third, West Virginia led by one point, 18-17.
Syracuse’s Eric Dungey was 8 for 9 in passing for a total of 108 yards in comparison to West Virginia’s Jack Allison’s 5 for 8 for 91 yards. Third down conversions were 50% and 60%, respectively. The rushing game was limited for both teams, with Syracuse only running for a total of 30 yards and West Virginia only rushing for 12 yards.
Syracuse rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter, and kept West Virginia from ever scoring again for the rest of the game. The Orange scored two touchdowns with a field goal in between.
The first touchdown came within seconds with Dungey’s 14-yard pass to Trishton Jackson. On West Virginia’s next drive, Syracuse’s Allen Stritzinger intercepted Allison’s pass and returned the ball 20 yards. While the Mountaineers defense limited the Orange’s passing game during the drive, Szmyt was able to nail the 34-yard field goal at 12:55 left in the game, making the score 27-18 at that point. Syracuse’s Jarveon Howard scrambled for four yards for their next touchdown after a successful 42-yard pass to Moe Neal, making the score 34-18 with ten minutes left in the game.
“Disappointing loss, disappointing end of the season, but I’m proud of our guys. We fought. We tried. You know, that’s all. I can ask for out of these guys. They laced it up and they tried, you know. Just came up a little bit short.” – West Virginia Mountaineers Head Coach Dana Holgorsen
The scoring ended there, but the Orange was able to net two sacks on Allison in the quarter.
“It was a fabulous game. Can’t say enough about Dana and his crew, West Virginia. It was a hard fought battle. It was extremely physical as well. I thought that the officials did a decent job out there. Couldn’t be more proud of the 2018 seniors to end in this fashion against a rival opponent that goes so far back in our history. And to win the type of game that we won, it wasn’t like those other games that we have been watching for the last two days on TV.
“It was one of those games, it was a good battle. Can’t say enough about the Camping World Bowl and the way they’ve treated us here, and the trophy is really, really heavy and I’m glad we got it.” -Syracuse Orange Head Coach Dino Babers
In the end, the teams’ scoring were four and four: Syracuse had 4 touchdowns and two field goals while West Virginia had four field goals and one touchdown.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com