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The Sports Xchange, Published December 27 2013

Syracuse escapes with Texas Bowl win against Gophers

HOUSTON – Before he delved too deeply into the analysis of where his punt coverage failed during a critical juncture of the Texas Bowl, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill rightfully acknowledged Syracuse freshman receiver Brisly Estime and his influence on the Golden Gophers’ demise.

After a decisive Estime punt return, Syracuse sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt scampered 12 yards for the winning touchdown in the latter stages of the fourth quarter and the Orange rallied for a 21-17 victory over Minnesota on Friday night at Reliant Stadium.

Estime returned a 57-yard Pete Mortell punt 70 yards to the Gophers’ 14-yard line and, with the pocket collapsing on third down, Hunt broke contain and dashed untouched into the end zone with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining.

Hunt earned Most Valuable Player honors, but it was Estime who positioned the Orange to rally to victory after Minnesota surged ahead.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to cover better. We’ve got to get down the field,” Kill said. “We’re in spread punt and they tied one of our guys up, which is good execution on them. And you’ve just got to make sure when you kick the ball like that you’ve got to have great coverage.

“When I go back and look at it, I can tell you somebody stepped out of a lane or something of that nature. Again, I don’t want to take anything away from the kid (Estime) from Syracuse. He made a good play.”

Syracuse (7-6) posted its third consecutive bowl victory and a winning record under first-year coach Scott Shafer after finishing with four victories in its final six games. Minnesota (8-5) fell in the Texas Bowl for a second consecutive year, falling 34-31 to Texas Tech last season.

Hunt passed for 188 yards and rushed for 74 yards and two scores. Estime added 194 all-purpose yards on 11 touches. Their maturation during the course of the season proved beneficial against the Gophers.

“I got better at leadership on and off the field, learning how to be the quarterback and not just a quarterback on the team,” Hunt said. “Learning my players around me, who could do what versus what I could do. It was all coming together in time.”

Trailing 14-3, the Gophers mounted a sudden comeback, covering 72 yards in eight plays for their first offensive touchdown in 195 minutes. Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner capped that march with a 20-yard strike to Maxx Williams on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Leidner was sacked on the subsequent two-point conversion pass attempt, but he proved successful after the Gophers moved ahead on their ensuing possession. After completing a 55-yard touchdown pass to receiver Drew Wolitarsky that gave Minnesota a one-point lead, Leidner hit fullback Mike Henry in the flat for the conversion and a

17-14 edge.

Syracuse 0 7 7 7— 21

Minnesota 0 3 0 14— 17

SECOND QUARTER

SYR—Jo.Smith 1 yard rush (R.Norton kick), 10:04.

MINN—C.Hawthorne 41 yard field goal, 0:00.

THIRD QUARTER

SYR—Te.Hunt 5 yard rush (R.Norton kick), 2:57.

FOURTH QUARTER

MINN—Mx.Williams 20 yard pass from Mi.Leidner (pass from Ma.Leidner - failed), 14:55.

MINN—Wolitarsky 55 yard pass from Mi.Leidner (Mk.Henry pass from Ma.Leidner), 12:34.

SYR—Te.Hunt 12 yard rush (R.Norton kick), 1:14.

TEAM STATISTICS

SYR MINN

First Downs 23 19

Rushes-Yards 46-208 38-127

Passing 188 223

Comp-Att-Int 19-29-0 13-30-0

Return Yards 139 46

Punts 4-43.0 6-47.7

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1

Penalties-Yards 9-53 8-65

Time of Possession 29:47 30:13

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-SYR, Jo.Smith 16-74, Te.Hunt 15-74, Morris II 8-33, P.Gulley 4-16, B.Estime 1-9, Loeb 1-5, D.McFarlane 1-(minus 3). MINN, Dv.Cobb 18-91, Mi.Leidner 13-24, Ph.Nelson 2-14, D.Kirkwood 4-6, Fruechte 1-(minus 8).

PASSING-SYR, Te.Hunt 19-29-0-188. MINN, Mi.Leidner 11-22-0-205, Ph.Nelson 2-7-0-18.

RECEIVING-SYR, B.Estime 5-47, Jr.West 5-38, Broyld 4-41, Cr.Clark 3-36, Jo.Smith 1-18, P.Gulley 1-8. MINN, Mx.Williams 5-76, Wolitarsky 4-94, Fruechte 3-41, Dv.Cobb 1-12.