The 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational presented by Stat Box Stories continues today with the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl features a matchup of the West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) and the Syracuse Orange (7-5, 5-2 Big East). Jordan Searles of the EA SPORTS Game Changers program has contributed today’s match-up between former Big East foes.
Pinstripe Bowl showdown of former Big East Rivals ends with Mountaineers over Orange, 31-23
Bronx, N.Y. – When the Mountaineers of West Virginia left the Big East to join the Big 12 to begin the season, common thought was they would contend immediately in their new home and possible make a push for a BCS Bowl Game. Despite a disappointing season which saw them finish under .500 in the Big 12, West Virginia managed to display that they made the right decision to move with a hard-fought win over a familiar Syracuse foe.
The game went back-and-forth throughout, with Syracuse scoring first on a 26-yard field goal before the Mountaineers answered with a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Orange got their first touchdown on an 8-yard pass from QB #12 to WR #5, taking a 10-7 lead. Only three seconds later, West Virginia re-took the lead on a 73-yard pass from QB #12 to WR #81.
With 2:51 remaining in the first half, Syracuse HB #45 rushed in from 27 yards out for a score to put the Orange up 17-14 going into the halftime break.
After so much scoring in the first half, only a single play resulted in points in the third quarter: a 50-yard pass from QB #12 to WR #1 of West Virginia to re-take the lead, 21-17.
In the fourth quarter, Syracuse’s best hope to get back into the game was snuffed out when West Virginia intercepted a pass at their own 8-yard-line and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown and a 28-17 lead. The Orange managed to fight back and score on a 39-yard pass to WR #5 with 2:41 remaining to narrow the deficit to five points, but the only other scoring in the game was a late West Virginia field goal to cement the final score.
Player of the Game: West Virginia WR #81, who only caught 2 passes but took those receptions for a total of 129 yards and two touchdowns for the game, including a long reception of 73 yards.
It was over when… West Virginia CB #23 intercepted a fourth quarter pass in the red zone (which would have given Syracuse the lead had they scored) and returned it for a touchdown. It was a perfect storm for an opportunistic defense to seize control of a game that up until that point had traded momentum throughout. While Syracuse did eventually make it a one possession game again, the confidence of making a clutch play was enough to propel West Virginia to a win.
Game Ball goes to… Mountaineers QB #12 – It all starts with your quarterback and it’s tough to lose when your quarterback can hit receivers anywhere on the field. The receivers were in the right spots to make the plays, especially in game-breaking situations like the second quarter bomb to WR #81, but it doesn’t matter where they run if the throws can’t make it there on time.
Stat of the Game: This one is interesting, because West Virginia lost in all major categories that usually define a football game: time of possession, turnovers, and third down conversions. However, the big plays are what did Syracuse in and those 252 passing yards are the key to WVU’s victory. An honorable mention goes to WVU’s 40 yard punting average opposed to just 33 for Syracuse. Field position goes a long way, and it worked here.