Syracuse rallies late for 21-17 win over Gophers

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 28, 2013 at 2:12 am •  Published: December 28, 2013
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HOUSTON (AP) — Freshman Brisly Estime had returned just two punts this season entering Friday night's Texas Bowl.

Something told Syracuse coach Scott Shafer to give his offensive coordinator George McDonald flexibility to mix things up in the return game against Minnesota.

The move paid off when Estime returned a punt 70 yards to set up the winning score in a 21-17 victory by Syracuse.

"Brisly is a quick as a jitterbug," Shafer said. "We felt that he could give us something."

Terrel Hunt scrambled 12 yards for a touchdown with 1:14 remaining to lift Syracuse to the win.

"It would have nice if we could have just knocked them out and won by 17 or something," Shafer said. "That's kind of not our way this year. I think it was appropriate that we won in that fashion."

Estime would have scored on his punt return if not for a tackle by punter Peter Mortell. It was the second-longest punt return in Texas Bowl history.

"We probably out-punted our coverage," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said.

Syracuse (7-6) led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter before Mitch Leidner threw two touchdown passes and a 2-point conversion to put the Gophers up 17-14.

After the Orange regained the lead, Minnesota attempted two long passes to the end zone on the final plays. The first slipped through Drew Wolitarsky's arms and the second, as time expired, was knocked down near the end zone.

Minnesota (8-5) got a boost to start the second half when Kill returned to the sideline for the first time since Sept. 28 before Syracuse came back to send the Gophers to their sixth consecutive bowl loss and second straight in this bowl.

Kill began the game in the press box, where he has observed his team since returning from a leave of absence because of epilepsy. Kill has had five seizures on game day in two-plus seasons at Minnesota. He took the leave of absence in October and returned a couple of weeks later.

"I felt I would do anything I can to help," Kill said about joining his team on the sideline. "I'm not sure if it helped or not. Evidently, it didn't because we didn't win the game."

Hunt finished with 188 yards passing and 74 rushing with two scores to earn Most Valuable Player honors and a 10-gallon cowboy hat.



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