Last year, Syracuse University's football team suffered a miserable 41-27 defeat to Akron - a painful memory that, arguably, marked the low point of the Greg Robinson years.
Well aware that it could not go into a downward spiral, the Orange, if it had aspirations to remain in contention for a bowl appearance had to win Saturday's rematch against the 1-5 Zips -- and it did so, beating Akron 28-14.
SU had to overcame the loss of star wide receiver Mike Williams (sixth nationally with 118-yards per game) and linebacker E.J. Carter, both of whom were suspended due to unspecified reasons. This on top of the controversy surrounding Greg Paulus, who had thrown 10 interceptions in the last two games.
Despite all the adversity, SU was undaunted by the challenge, and head coach Doug Marrone was relieved by that fact.
"Every week there is competition and everyone has to hold their job," Marrone said. "It does not matter if it is the quarterback or the kicker, the right guard or the left tackle. I am going to put the players on the field that give our team the chance to win."
The Orange (3-4, 0-2) once again had a sluggish first half, but finished out the game strong scoring 14 unanswered points, mostly due to a punishing ground game.
Delone Carter had a career- best performance, with 30 carries for 170-yards and three touchdowns. Former Christian Brothers Academy standout Marcus Sales chipped in with six catches for 61-yards and a TD.
The Orange's defense was outstanding, contributing five sacks, two of which came from linebacker Derrell Smith. SU also punished the Zips' running attack into submission allowing only 41 yards -- and none in the second half.
In the first quarter, SU committed two turnovers in a span of less than four minutes. First, Donte Davis was stripped of the football by two defenders and the Zips had excellent field position at 23-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Patrick Nicely threw down the middle of field to Andre Jones for an 11-yard TD play, and Akron led 7-0.