Cincinnati conquers Syracuse, tricky wind

Published October 29, 2006

CINCINNATI - Dustin Grutza reared back and let the ball fly into a tricky, swirling wind. All he could do was watch and wince.

Grutza's pass strayed off course but found its mark for a 37-yard touchdown, helping Cincinnati pull away in the second half Saturday for a 17-3 victory over a Syracuse team that couldn't master the wind or anything else.

"I was a little nervous there, watching the flight of the ball," Grutza said. "I was afraid he wouldn't get there."

Derrick Stewart got there with a dive, grabbing the wind-blown pass in the end zone with one last stride before hitting the ground hard.

"I thought he tried to lead me to the other side of the field, but he said he just threw it," said Stewart, who had a career-high 91 yards. "The wind took it, and I had to go get it."

Greg Moore also scored in the second half on a 2-yard run, putting Cincinnati in control against a struggling team. Syracuse has lost four in a row, and is 0-11 in the conference during coach Greg Robinson's two seasons.

"It's very frustrating," Robinson said. "I'd like to think we could do better. I give their defense credit, but we could do better than that."

The quarterbacks had to contend with unpredictable winds that made food wrappers dance along the field before depositing them into the upper deck.

"It's amazing," said coach Mark Dantonio, whose team had a day less of preparation coming off Sunday's 23-6 victory over USF. "The wind is blowing in your face, you switch quarters and the wind is still blowing in your face."

One bold throw made the difference.

Leading 10-3 early in the fourth quarter, Grutza faked a handoff, hid the ball on his hip then let it fly. Stewart got behind the coverage and ran down the ball.

The Orange couldn't move the ball with any consistency.

A week after he threw for a career-high 303 yards in a loss to Louisville, senior Perry Patterson was 13-of-29 for 119 yards. He was under constant pressure and had numerous throws dropped.

The Orange was also held to a season-low 61 rushing yards.