Dec 6, 2003
By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Walter Reyes ran for 189 yards and five touchdowns, three in the third quarter, and Syracuse beat Notre Dame 38-12 on Saturday.
The Irish (5-7) finished with their third losing season in five years, something that has never happened in the storied history of the program.
The Orangemen (6-6), coming off an embarrassing 24-7 loss at Rutgers, snapped a three-game losing streak. They also avoided their second straight losing season and might have earned a reprieve for head coach Paul Pasqualoni, who has been heavily criticized since last year’s team went 4-8.
The lopsided victory by Syracuse also gave LSU a boost in its drive to move past USC into second place in the BCS standings. The Trojans defeated Notre Dame 45-14 in October.
Reyes, who had not rushed for 100 yards since the fourth game of the season, scored twice in a 95-second span in the third quarter on runs of 3 and 5 yards to give Syracuse a comfortable 24-6 lead.
Courtney Watson gave the Irish some hope when he intercepted a pass by R.J. Anderson and returned it 48 yards to the Syracuse 24. Four plays later, Brady Quinn hit tight end Anthony Fasano with a 5-yard scoring pass, pulling the Irish within 24-12.
Reyes, who finished the season with 1,347 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns, ended any suspense after the ensuing kickoff. He scored on the first play, on a 71-yard run over right tackle with 11 seconds left in the third.
A 43-yard reception by Johnnie Morant, who caught six passes for 103 yards, set up Reyes’ 3-yard TD run with 10:27 remaining. That gave the junior standout a school-record 38 rushing touchdowns, three more than Floyd Little had in his career, and a school-record 134 points this season.
The Irish had been winning behind the running of Julius Jones, who had averaged 200 yards per game during their modest three-game winning streak.
Against the fired-up Syracuse defense, Jones gained only 9 yards on eight carries in the first quarter. And right after he had a 26-yard run to the Syracuse 14 early in the second, he fumbled on the next play. Steve Gregory recovered for the Orange and returned it six yards to the 22.
Jones finished with 54 yards on 20 carries, and the Irish gained only 62 yards on 36 carries.
Even when the Irish created a break, they failed to score a touchdown. After Syracuse failed to gain a first down on the first possession of the second half and had to punt, Notre Dame linebacker Corey Mays partially blocked Brendan Carney’s punt and the Irish took over at the Syracuse 30.
Three plays lost 13 yards and Notre Dame had to settle for D.J. Fitzpatrick’s 40-yard field goal.
Free safety Anthony Smith intercepted Quinn’s second pass of the game, giving the Orangemen the ball at the Irish 24. Five plays later, Reyes scored for the first time.
Collin Barber kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Orange a 10-0 lead, and Fitzpatrick made it 10-3 with a 50-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
The Irish were fortunate to be trailing only 10-3 at halftime. Of their seven possessions in the first half, their best field position was the 25 while the Orangemen started two drives near midfield.
In his final college game, Anderson was 17-for-27 for 209 yards and set a single-season school record for completions with 186. Marvin Graves had the previous record of 171 in 1993.