MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Sports Network) - Ryan Nassib threw a touchdown pass and Ross Krautman kicked four field goals, as Syracuse pulled off a 19-14 upset of 20th-ranked West Virginia at Mountaineer Field.
The Orange (5-2, 2-1 Big East) kept West Virginia off the board after a wild first quarter that featured a combined 24 points and halted an eight-game losing streak in the series, beating the Mountaineers for the first time since 2001.
Syracuse has won both of its Big East road games, also beating South Florida two weeks ago. The Orange were coming off an ugly 45-14 home loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday.
West Virginia (5-2, 1-1) had been considered the class of the weak Big East with its lone previous loss being a 20-14 setback at LSU on September 25.
Syracuse's defense came up with three interceptions, all leading to Krautman field goals, and sacked West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith five times. Smith had thrown just two interceptions entering the contest and finished Saturday's game 20-of-37 for 178 yards with a touchdown.
After a scoreless third quarter, West Virginia took its first possession of the fourth to midfield before a pair of penalties, a sack and a six-yard loss on a screen pass pushed the Mountaineers back.
West Virginia got the ball back with 6 1/2 minutes remaining at its own 20 and quickly reached the Syracuse 48 with a first down. Three plays then netted six yards, but Smith escaped a rush on fourth down and scrambled for 11 yards to keep the drive alive.
A holding penalty then wiped out a big play, but Smith found J.D. Woods for 17 yards on 3rd-and-16 soon after to again move the chains. Smith was dropped for a 12-yard loss on second down, then threw incomplete on third with 49 seconds to play before he was again flushed out of the pocket on fourth down and was sacked to seal the outcome.
West Virginia managed just 284 total yards, led by Noel Devine's 122 on 24 carries. However, nine penalties for 64 yards also stymied the Mountaineers.
The Orange totaled just 246 offensive yards. Antwon Bailey ran for 94 yards on 19 carries, taking over the bulk of the rushing duties after Delone Carter left the contest with a bruised hip. Carter had 75 yards on nine carries as the Syracuse ground game accumulated 183 yards. Nassib was just 5-of-15 for 63 yards through the air, but was not picked off and was sacked only once.
West Virginia's first series ended quickly, as Doug Hogue picked off a Smith pass on the third play of the game to give Syracuse a great chance from the Mountaineer 26. After one first down, the Orange stalled and Krautman kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Mountaineers then faced 3rd-and-10 right away on their second possession, but Smith found Tavon Austin for 11 yards and the West Virginia offense kicked into gear from there. Smith connected on 5-of-7 throws for 66 yards on the nine-play, 71-yard drive and capped it with a six-yard strike to Austin in the back of the end zone.
Syracuse wasted little time and answered with a 62-yard march in just under two minutes, as Nassib hit a wide-open Van Chew with a 29-yard scoring toss, but back came West Virginia with a 67-yard touchdown series. Smith converted a 3rd-and-15 with a 17-yard pass to Woods to set up Ryan Clarke's one-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play for a 14-10 lead with just under two minutes remaining in an action-filled first quarter.
Max Suter then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and West Virginia took over at the Syracuse 34, but Smith was picked off by Phillip Thomas in the end zone and the Orange drove to the Mountaineer two before settling for a 19-yard Krautman field goal early in the second period.
After a trade of punts, West Virginia's Keith Tandy picked off Nassib and returned the ball inside the Syracuse 30. Tandy, though, was called for pass interference and the Orange took advantage of the second chance to take a 16-14 lead on a 33-yard Krautman kick with 3:54 left in the half.
Hogue picked off another Smith pass with just over a minute remaining and his 49-yard return gave the Orange a first down at the West Virginia 12. Again the West Virginia defense forced a field goal and Krautman connected from 22 yards away to send Syracuse to the break with a 19-14 edge.