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Syracuse ends skid as Irish finish another losing season

Orangemen hope 38-12 rout that drops Notre Dame to 5-7 is enough for Paul Pasqualoni to keep his job.

Wire services
Published December 7, 2003

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Walter Reyes wasn't about to lose that big grin after leading Syracuse to a season-ending victory over Notre Dame. Neither were his teammates - or his beleaguered coach.

"What a great win," Reyes said Saturday after rushing for 189 yards and five touchdowns to lead Syracuse to a 38-12 victory.

"It just showed a lot of character and heart. For the program, we wanted to come out here and show the nation that Syracuse football is still here."

In the first meeting between the teams in 40 years, the Irish (5-7) finished with their third losing season in five years.

"We felt that this game could have been a good springboard into the offseason," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "This could be a very difficult loss, but we can't allow it to be."

It could have been very difficult for Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni if the Orangemen had lost. He has been heavily criticized since last year's team went 4-8. Instead, the Orangemen (6-6) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Athletic director Jake Crouthamel said he would sit down with Pasqualoni today for an evaluation and make an announcement later in the week.

Pasqualoni, 101-53-1 in 13 years as coach, declined to speak about his status.

"We love that man," said defensive tackle Christian Ferrara, who had five tackles for losses. "If something does go bad like that, I think it's the biggest mistake this university will ever make."

"He ain't going anywhere. I hope he doesn't," said Reyes, who has a school-record 38 rushing touchdowns, three more than Floyd Little in his career, and finished the season with a record 134 points. "He's done so much for us. If he does, it will be heartbreaking."

Reyes scored twice in a 95-second span in the third quarter on runs of 3 and 15 yards to give Syracuse a 24-6 lead, then stunned the Irish on a 71-yard TD run off right tackle with 11 seconds left in the third after they had moved to 24-12.

Irish running back Julius Jones, who had averaged 200 yards per game during a three-game winning streak, gained 9 yards on eight carries in the first quarter. After he had a 26-yard run to the Syracuse 14 early in the second, he fumbled on the next play and Steve Gregory recovered for the Orange. Jones finished with 54 yards on 20 carries, and the Irish gained only 62 yards on 36 attempts.

"When we were able to get the running game going (in the previous three games), everything flowed better for the team," said Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who was 18-for-34 for 199 yards and threw two interceptions. "We didn't establish it today, and it hurt us."

"I think we're the best defensive line they faced," Ferrara said. "I'll take this over anything in the world, going out with a win, a dominating win, against a team like this."

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