SYRACUSE It was a very competitive battle and a game much closer than expected, but nevertheless it was the 2-0 Syracuse men's football team that narrowly ousted the Rhode Island Rams 21-14 Saturday night in the Carrier Dome.
Unlike the come-from-behind, season-opening overtime win over Wake Forest nine days earlier, the 36,421 fans in the Carrier Dome stayed put for the entire contest.
Here, SU did not have to stage a comeback, but it had to overcome a sluggish performance against an FCS (Division I-AA) opponent in URI.
In the fourth quarter, with 8:15 left, SU put together its best scoring drive of the game after struggling most of the way.
Senior Ryan Nassib engineered an eight-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Solvay High School graduate Mike Acchione - much to the delight of the fans who gave him a standing ovation.
"I have been dreaming about this my whole life," said Acchione, whose father also played for the SU football team from 1978 to 1981.
In the closing minutes, the Rams had one last chance to deadlock the score. But it was denied thanks to a tenacious pass rush by the Orange. Linebacker Marquis Spruill sacked URI quarterback Steve Probst twice.
Then, on fourth-down-and-17 Philip Tomas intercepted Probst's desperation pass, allowing SU to take over possession and run out the clock.
Despite the low-scoring contest Nassib tied a school record for completions (29) held by Marvin Graves and Andrew Robinson. Nassib went 29-for-37 for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
Van Chew was stellar as well with eight catches totaling 134 yards and two TD’s. Alec Lemon caught most of the first-down receptions as he contributed a career-best eight catches, accounting for 94 yards.
SU had a 14-7 advantage at the break and never did trail, but the performance still left a bad feeling to head coach Doug Marrone.