Football Blanks Syracuse, 26-0
Nov. 18, 2000
OptionalNo. 2 Miami 26, Syracuse 0
By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Miami coach Butch Davis said he wouldn’t run up thescore against Syracuse. He never said anything about the other side of theball.
The Miami defense met the Orangemen at every turn Saturday night, limitingthem to 83 yards rushing, 83 passing and just nine first downs in a 26-0victory. James Jackson rushed for 101 yards and scored twice as the Hurricanesremained in the hunt for the national championship.
Miami (9-1, 6-0 Big East), which has one game left, against Boston College,entered the game ranked second in the BCS standings, which will decide thenational championship game.
There was concern by Miami before the game that the winner of theFlorida-Florida State game, also played Saturday night, might vault past theHurricanes, so a strong performance against Syracuse was a must.
“They say we had to win by 20, and we did that tonight,” said Davis, whowas whooping it up in the locker room afterward, praising his defense. “Iwould be disappointed if we didn’t stay second, especially with the toughstretch we’ve had. Every team we’ve played has had a winning record.
Including Syracuse (5-5, 3-3). But the Orangemen also had a redshirtquarterback starting his first game at home, and that made Miami’s task easier.
“We knew they were going to try to run some option, try to confuse us,”said linebacker Dan Morgan, who aggravated a toe injury in the second quarterbut still managed three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. “One littlemess-up and they are going to bust a play on you.”
There were none on this night. In its eight possessions of the first half,Syracuse did not gain a first down on seven of them as quarterback R.J.Anderson failed to generate anything offensively. The Orangemen, who enteredthe game ranked 17th in the nation in rushing with a 206-yard average, gained42 yards on 29 plays in the half and had only two first downs.
“I was a little anxious,” said Anderson, who finished 11-for-25 andsuffered a costly interception.
Meanwhile, Miami won the field-position game handily, took a 23-0 halftimelead and took the capacity Carrier Dome crowd of 49,327 out of the game. Thestands were more empty than full after Todd Sievers kicked a 33-yard field goalearly in the fourth quarter.
“We felt very comfortable and were able to operate, even with the noisyconditions,” said quarterback Ken Dorsey, who was 16 of 28 for 263 yards andone touchdown. “The offensive line did a great job of pass protecting and thereceivers were running great routes. They made my job easy.”
Of their eight possessions in the opening half, the Hurricanes startedeither near midfield or in Syracuse territory six times, and that was costlyfor Syracuse.
“We were counting on getting at least some field position, but those thingsdid not happen early on,” Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “And that, inmy mind, was the game.”
Leading 3-0 on a 23-yard field goal early in the first quarter by Sievers,Miami scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the second quarterto put the game away.
Dorsey got the Hurricanes going with completions of 32 yards to JeremyShockey and 23 yards to Daryl Jones. A key 11-yarder to Santana Moss on athird-and-10 play set up Jackson’s 5-yard scoring run on the first play of thesecond quarter.
Syracuse entered the game with the seventh-rated pass defense in thecountry, allowing 163.8 yards per game. Dorsey completed 9 of 19 passes for 183yards in the first half alone. One was a 32-yard touchdown strike to ReggieWayne on a crossing play over the middle that put Miami ahead 16-0 with 11:51remaining in the half.
Strong safety Edward Reed nabbed Miami’s 21st interception of the season tostop Syracuse’s next possession and Jackson scored on a 33-yard run two playslater to make it 23-0.
“We weren’t thinking about the BCS,” Reed said. “Any time you can get ashutout, you try your hardest. We could have run up the score, but that’s notthe kind of team we are.”
Syracuse had relied all season on its defense, which was expected to keepthe Orangemen in this one despite the absence of defensive end Dwight Freeney,who sat out his third straight game with an undisclosed viral infection.Freeney still led the nation with 13 sacks.
But the pressure that harried Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick,sacking him an amazing nine times in a 22-14 loss to the Hokies a month ago,never materialized.
Syracuse, which suffered its first shutout at home since a 43-0 loss to WestVirginia in 1993, mounted only two sustained drives in the game.
The best chance to score came in the first quarter as Anderson moved theOrangemen from their own 36 to the Miami 17 in nine plays. But Mike Shafer’s40-yard field-goal attempt was wide left, his 11th miss in 25 attempts thisyear.
“Momentum is a big thing in football,” said Dorsey, who was rarelyhurried. “I really felt like we got the momentum back after they missed thefield goal. I think that really helped us through the entire first half.”