12:00 PM ET, September 22, 2007
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, LOUISVILLE, KY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Syracuse wide receiver Taj Smith stood all alone at midfield waving his arms, surprised by how wide open he was.
It's become a familiar feeling for Louisville opponents this season.
Smith hauled in the pass from quarterback Andrew Robinson and raced 79 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play, and the Orange were on the way to a 38-35 upset over the defenseless Cardinals on Saturday.
"Louisville is a powerhouse offense, but we felt like we could do it too," Smith said. "I just kept telling them 'Keep it going.' "
|Home Not So Sweet|
Syracuse snapped No. 18 Louisville's 20-game home winning streak with a 38-35 upset victory on Saturday. The Cardinals had the second longest active streak in the bowl subdivision behind USC.
Smith later added a 60-yard touchdown reception, finishing with four receptions for 173 yards as the Orange (1-3, 1-0 Big East) ended the nation's second-longest home winning streak at 20.
"We were rolling on all four cylinders," defensive end Jameel McClain said. "I don't know if they were ripe for an upset. You can look at it as an upset, but I don't."
This was no lucky last-minute stunner. The Orange led throughout behind Robinson, who threw for a career-high 423 yards and tied a school record with four touchdowns.
"Andrew just did a great job for us," Syracuse coach Greg Robinson said. "He's just a good player. I'm not going to tell you he's the greatest. He got help from the guys around him."
And some help from the Cardinals, too. Syracuse won its first conference road game in three years and beat a ranked opponent for the first time since knocking off Boston College in 2004.
The Cardinals (2-2, 0-1) turned the ball over four times, committed 12 penalties for 105 yards and lost consecutive games for the first time since 2003.
"We had too many penalties and too many turnovers and you can't expect to do that and win," Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said.
Brian Brohm completed 45-of-65 passes career-high 555 yards and four scores and Harry Douglas had 12 receptions for 205 yards and a score for Louisville. But the Cardinals' defense allowed Syracuse -- which entered the game ranked near the bottom nationally in every offensive category -- to pile up 465 yards and make big play after big play.
"Yeah, it's hard to believe," Brohm said. "We're just not playing great football right now. Losing hurts and it gets you frustrated and mad."
Syracuse, a 36 1/2-point underdog, built a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter before trying to make it interesting late. The Orange turned the ball over twice in the final minutes allowing Louisville to get within three with 56 seconds left.
The ensuing onside kick, however, failed to go 10 yards and the Orange held on.
Following a last-second meltdown in a loss to archrival Kentucky, the Cardinals spent all week talking about improving communication on a defense that ranked among the worst in the country.
It didn't work.
Syracuse built a 21-7 lead at the half behind a 93-yard kickoff return by Max Suter and a 42-yard pass from Andrew Robinson to little-used wide receiver Da'Mon Merkerson. Syracuse had 234 yards in the first half alone, 35 more than the Orange had been averaging for an entire game.
Each time Louisville appeared ready to stage a comeback in the second half, the Orange responded. Brohm hit Douglas for a 35-yard score in the third quarter to pull within 21-14, but Andrew Robinson hit Smith on a delayed screen, and he broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 60-yard touchdown.
"We had guys catch balls today they might have dropped in our other three games," Greg Robinson said. "Our guys just helped out each other making plays."
Andrew Robinson consistently found wide-open receivers running free in Louisville's struggling secondary. He averaged nearly 25 yards a completion. Facing third-and-5 at the Louisville 17 early in the fourth quarter, he stood in the pocket and found Mike Williams underneath. Williams slipped between two Louisville defenders and sprinted into the end zone to put it out of reach.
Syracuse's 38 points were more than the Orange had in the first three games of the season combined (32).
Syracuse's defense, which also had taken its share of lumps, did enough to make Andrew Robinson's heroics stand up.
"Those defensive guys played 93 plays, it was hot, but it was great for them to fight through it," Greg Robinson said. "It says a lot for our team."
Louisville's troubles extended beyond the defense. In addition to the penalties and the turnovers, Douglas went down with an undisclosed injury in the final minute.
"Two losses is not the end of the season, but at the same time, I can't be sitting up here every week talking about how many mistakes we made," Cardinals center Eric Wood said. "There is no way we should be sitting here at 2-2. Absolutely no way."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Louisville kicker Art Carmody attempted an onside kick with less than a minute remaining -- and kicked the ball just 4 yards. Syracuse ran out the clock on the next possession to hold on to the win.
Gameball goes to... Andrew Robinson. Syracuse's sophomore QB looked like the Heisman candidate on the field. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 423 yards and four touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 4, 11. Louisville racked up 555 yards of offense, but was killed by turnovers (4) and penalties (11) -- including two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-13||4-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-3|
|TD||14:44||Taj Smith 79 Yd Pass From Andrew Robinson (Patrick Shadle Kick) |
Drive: 1 plays, 79 yds, :16
|TD||12:59||Scott Kuhn 4 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 8 plays, 80 yds, 3:43
|TD||12:46||Max Suter 93 Yd Kickoff Return (Patrick Shadle Kick)||14||7|
|TD||03:57||Da'Mon Merkerson 42 Yd Pass From Andrew Robinson (Patrick Shadle Kick) |
Drive: 5 plays, 69 yds, 1:52
|TD||06:27||Harry Douglas 35 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 4 plays, 65 yds, 1:03
|TD||05:44||Taj Smith 60 Yd Pass From Andrew Robinson (Patrick Shadle Kick) |
Drive: 2 plays, 71 yds, :32
|FG||03:08||Patrick Shadle 26 Yd |
Drive: 4 plays, 4 yds, 1:05
|TD||12:58||Gary Barnidge 2 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 12 plays, 66 yds, 5:10
|TD||10:13||Mike Williams 17 Yd Pass From Andrew Robinson (Patrick Shadle Kick) |
Drive: 8 plays, 72 yds, 2:45
|TD||03:41||George Stripling 2 Yd Run (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 6 plays, 73 yds, 1:06
|TD||00:56||Patrick Carter 5 Yd Pass From Brian Brohm (Arthur Carmody Kick) |
Drive: 7 plays, 84 yds, 1:18