ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Abdul Adams and Trishton Jackson made their Syracuse debuts memorable, combining to score three touchdowns and helping the 17th-ranked Orange secure their first 10-win season since 2001 by topping No. 15 West Virginia 34-18 in the Camping World Bowl on Friday.
Adams rushed for two first-half scores, and Jackson hauled in a TD pass from Eric Dungey on the first play of the fourth quarter for Syracuse (10-3), which survived a game that featured eight lead changes. Adams and Jackson were both transfers who had to sit out a year, which by NCAA rule was satisfied at the end of the first semester.
Dungey completed 21 of 30 passes for 303 yards for the Orange, who trailed 18-17 going into the final quarter.
Barely five minutes later, it was 34-18 Syracuse. Dungey connected with Jackson, the Orange got an interception one play later and turned that possession into a field goal by Andre Szmyt, and Jarveon Howard barreled in from 4 yards out with 9:59 left to cap the SU flurry.
Syracuse got a fourth-and-goal stop on the next possession, and from there the orange-clad faithful who came south from Central New York could start to celebrate.
Jack Allison, making his first collegiate start because West Virginia star quarterback Will Grier elected to skip the bowl game and focus on preparing for the NFL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards for the Mountaineers (8-4).
Kennedy McCoy had a 3-yard touchdown run for West Virginia on a direct snap, and Evan Staley made four field goals for the Mountaineers. Szmyt made a pair of field goals for Syracuse, ending his freshman season with 30 — one shy of the Football Bowl Subdivision record set in 2003 by Georgia’s Billy Bennett.
Syracuse: Dungey came into the game holding or sharing 18 Syracuse records, and got another one in his collegiate finale. He passed Ryan Nassib (9,190) for most passing yards in Syracuse history, finishing his career with 9,340 — the record-breaker coming on a 6-yard toss to Chris Elmore in the third quarter.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers fell in a bowl game for the third consecutive season, but probably have a good idea about their starting quarterback in 2019. Allison had nine completions go for more than 15 yards.
Syracuse will end the season in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2001, when it finished No. 14. The last time the Orange finished a season higher than that was 1992, when they were No. 6.
Season over — may as well empty the playbook. Both sides tried first-half trickery, albeit in vain. Syracuse called for a throwback pass on a kickoff return and didn’t even get to its own 10-yard line (though wound up getting Adams’ first TD on that drive). West Virginia tried a double reverse and pass attempt to backup quarterback Trey Lowe III, who hauled in Trevon Wesco’s throw but was out of bounds.
Staley came in as one of 13 major college kickers to be 75-for-75 or better on extra-point tries over the last two seasons. He missed his first PAT attempt Friday, the ball bouncing off the right upright. Going back to his senior high school season, Staley — who was only 7 years old when he told late coach Bill Stewart that he was going to West Virginia — had made 101 consecutive PAT tries.
Syracuse: Visit Liberty — and new coach Hugh Freeze — on Aug. 31, 2019.
West Virginia: Host James Madison on Aug. 31, 2019.