November 10, 2002
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A month ago, Syracuse appeared to be on its way to a rare and dubious distinction -- winning 10 games one season and losing 10 the next.
A three-game win streak has changed that.
Freshman Damien Rhodes' 25-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion in the third overtime Saturday keyed the Orangemen's 50-42 victory over Virginia Tech.
The Hokies lost despite 504 yards passing and a school-record five touchdown passes by Bryan Randall. The 504 yards were second-best in school history behind Don Strock's 527 against Houston in 1972.
"To beat Virginia Tech at home, when everyone else had given up on you, this was like a bowl game for us," Syracuse tight end Joe Donnelly said.
"To come back in a game like this, that's a big test of character."
Tech's chance to tie ended when Maurice McClain intercepted Randall in the left corner of the end zone.
The Hokies, who lost to Pittsburgh last week, cannot win the league.
"We just couldn't get it done," said Tech coach Frank Beamer, who is 1-6 in the Carrier Dome. "But give Syracuse credit. They found a way to win at the end."
Randall was 23-of-35, and Ernest Wilford had eight catches for a school-record 279 yards and four touchdowns.
After the scoreless first overtime, Randall's 1-yard run gave the Hokies a 42-35 lead.
They seemed ready to celebrate when Syracuse faced fourth and goal from the 6.
But Troy Nunes hit Donnelly in the back of the end zone.
David Tyree, who had nine catches for 229 yards and blocked a punt, caught a 62-yard pass to set up Rhodes' 3-yard touchdown run. That made it 35-35 18 seconds after Wilford's 6-yard touchdown catch put Virginia Tech up 35-28.
PITT 29, TEMPLE 22: Claude Harriott returned a fumble 11 yards for the tiebreaking touchdown early in the fourth for the host Panthers.
Pittsburgh overcame a 16-7 deficit and a conference record five field goals by Cap Poklemba to win for the 14th time in 16 games dating to last season.
Pitt took a 22-19 lead on Rod Rutherford's 1-yard sneak midway through the third after Vince Crochunis scooped up a fumble and returned it to the Temple 11.
Then with the score 22-22, Harriott picked up a fumble by quarterback Mike McGann and gave the Panthers the victory.
WEST VIRGINIA 24, BC 14: Avon Cobourne gained 138 of the host Mountaineers' 273 rushing yards.
Cobourne's 37-yard run set up his 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead. Brian St. Pierre was intercepted twice trying to bring the Eagles back. He was 28-of-50 for 284 yards, and Boston College was held to 80 yards rushing.
With West Virginia ahead 17-7 late in the third, Arthur Harrison picked off St. Pierre at the Eagles 33. Five plays later, Rasheed Marshall's block on a reverse sprang Phil Braxton for a 10-yard touchdown run.