Scores
TEXAS BOWL

Final

Syracuse 21

(7-6)

Minnesota 17

(8-5)

Coverage: ESPN

6:00 PM ET, December 27, 2013

1 2 3 4 T
SYR 0 7 7 721
MINN 0 3 0 1417

Top Performers

Passing: M. Leidner (MINN) - 205 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: T. Hunt (SYR) - 15 CAR, 74 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: D. Wolitarsky (MINN) - 4 REC, 94 YDS, 1 TD

Syracuse rallies late for win over Minnesota in Texas Bowl

Associated Press
Hunt, Syracuse Battle Past Minnesota
Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt rushed for two touchdowns in the Orange's 21-17 win over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl.
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HOUSTON -- Syracuse coach Scott Shafer wishes his team could have held its big lead over Minnesota and cruised to an easy win in the Texas Bowl on Friday night.

But he found it fitting that the Orange had to eke out the victory, considering the number of close games they played this season.

Terrel Hunt scrambled 12 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 remaining to lift Syracuse to a 21-17 victory over the Golden Gophers.

"It would have been nice if we could have just knocked them out and won by 17 or something," Shafer said. "That's kind of not our way this year. I think it was appropriate that we won in that fashion."

Brisly Estime set up Hunt's touchdown with a 70-yard punt return. Estime would have scored if not for a tackle by punter Peter Mortell.

"Brisly is as quick as a jitterbug," Shafer said. "We felt that he could give us something."

It was the second-longest punt return in Texas Bowl history.

"We probably outpunted our coverage," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said.

Syracuse (7-6) led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter before Mitch Leidner threw two touchdown passes and a 2-point conversion to put the Gophers up 17-14.

After the Orange regained the lead, Minnesota attempted two long passes to the end zone on the final plays. The first slipped through Drew Wolitarsky's arms, and the second, as time expired, was knocked down near the end zone.

Minnesota (8-5) got a boost to start the second half when Kill returned to the sideline for the first time since Sept. 28 before Syracuse came back to send the Gophers to their sixth consecutive bowl loss and second straight in this bowl.

Kill began the game in the press box, where he had observed his team since returning from a leave of absence to treat and manage his epilepsy. Kill has had five seizures on game day in two-plus seasons at Minnesota. He took the leave of absence in October and returned a couple of weeks later.

"I felt I would do anything I can to help," Kill said about joining his team on the sideline. "I'm not sure if it helped or not. Evidently, it didn't because we didn't win the game."

Hunt finished with 188 yards passing and 74 rushing with two scores to earn MVP honors and a 10-gallon cowboy hat.

Leidner finished with 205 yards passing, Maxx Williams had five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, and Wolitarsky had 94 yards receiving and a score.

Syracuse attempted a 45-yard field goal with about 3½ minutes left, but it sailed wide right. Robert Welsh sacked Leidner on third down on the next drive to force a punt and set up the winning drive.

The Gophers took their first lead when Syracuse bit on a play-action fake that left Wolitarsky wide open for a 55-yard touchdown pass that made it 15-14 early in the fourth quarter. Leidner then hit Mike Henry for the 2-point conversion to push the lead to 17-14.

Players and coaches on the sideline jumped around wildly after the touchdown, while Kill smiled and stood nearly still amid the chaos.

Hunt was penalized for intentional grounding on third down of the ensuing drive by Syracuse, forcing a fourth-and-25 and a punt by the Orange.

Jerome Smith rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown for Syracuse, and Estime had five receptions for 47 yards.

Minnesota cut it to 14-9 when Williams got in front of two defenders for a 20-yard touchdown reception from Leidner on the first play of the fourth quarter. It was the Gophers' first touchdown on offense since the second quarter of a 24-10 win over Penn State on Nov. 9. The Gophers attempted a 2-point conversion, but Leidner was sacked.

The Orange used a clock-eating, 15-play drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Hunt to push the lead to 14-3 with about three minutes left in the third quarter. Syracuse used run after run to pound the ball on that drive, and had an 18-yard run by Smith and a 17-yard scamper by George Morris to keep it going.

Syracuse took a 7-0 lead when Smith scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter. That drive was helped by a nifty catch by Christopher Clark, who stretched out to grab a 19-yard reception with a defender in his face just before stepping out of bounds.

Minnesota cut it to 7-3 on Chris Hawthorne's 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
SYR
MINN
1st Downs2319
Total Yards396350
Passing188223
Rushing208127
Penalties9-538-65
3rd Down Conversions7-148-17
4th Down Conversions1-21-1
Turnovers11
Possession29:4730:13

Passing Leaders

SyracuseC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Hunt19/291886.500
MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Leidner11/222059.320

Rushing Leaders

SyracuseCARYDSAVGTDLG
Smith16744.6119
Hunt15744.9222
MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Cobb18915.1017
Leidner13241.8017

Receiving Leaders

SyracuseRECYDSAVGTDLG
Estime5479.4021
Broyld44110.3022
MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Wolitarsky49423.5155
Williams57615.2120

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERSYRMINN
TD10:04Jerome Smith 1 Yd Run (Ryan Norton Kick) 70
FG00:00Chris Hawthorne 41 Yd 73
THIRD QUARTERSYRMINN
TD02:57Terrel Hunt 5 Yd Run (Ryan Norton Kick) 143
FOURTH QUARTERSYRMINN
TD14:55Maxx Williams 20 Yd Pass From Mitch Leidner (Two-Point Conversion Failed) 149
TD12:34Drew Wolitarsky 55 Yd Pass From Mitch Leidner (Mitch Leidner Pass To Mike Henry For Two-Point Conversion) 1417
TD01:14Terrel Hunt 12 Yd Run (Ryan Norton Kick) 2117