After a decisive Estime punt return, Syracuse sophomore
quarterback Terrel Hunt scampered 12 yards for the winning touchdown
in the latter stages of the fourth quarter and the Orange rallied
for a 21-17 victory over Minnesota on Friday night at Reliant
Estime returned a 57-yard Pete Mortell punt 70 yards to the Gophers'
14-yard line and, with the pocket collapsing on third down, Hunt
broke contain and dashed untouched into the end zone with 1:14
Hunt earned most valuable player honors, but it was Estime who
positioned the Orange to rally to victory after Minnesota surged
"The biggest thing is we've got to cover better. We've got to get
down the field," Kill said. "We're in spread punt and they tied one
of our guys up, which is good execution on them. And you've just got
to make sure when you kick the ball like that you've got to have
"When I go back and look at it, I can tell you somebody stepped out
of a lane or something of that nature. Again, I don"t want to take
anything away from the kid (Estime) from Syracuse. He made a good
Syracuse (7-6) posted its third consecutive bowl victory and a
winning record under first-year coach Scott Shafer after finishing
with four victories in its final six games. Minnesota (8-5) fell in
the Texas Bowl for a second consecutive year, falling 34-31 to Texas
Tech last season.
Hunt passed for 188 yards and rushed for 74 yards and two scores.
Estime added 194 all-purpose yards on 11 touches. Their maturation
during the course of the season proved beneficial against the
"I got better at leadership on and off the field, learning how to be
the quarterback and not just a quarterback on the team," Hunt said.
"Learning my players around me, who could do what versus what I
could do. It was all coming together in time."
Trailing 14-3, the Gophers mounted a sudden comeback, covering 72
yards in eight plays for their first offensive touchdown in 195
minutes. Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner capped that march with
a 20-yard strike to fullback Maxx Williams on the first play of the
Leidner was sacked on the subsequent two-point conversion pass
attempt, but he proved successful after the Gophers moved ahead on
their ensuing possession. After completing a 55-yard touchdown pass
to receiver Drew Wolitarsky that gave Minnesota a one-point lead,
Leidner hit fullback Mike Henry in the flat for the conversion and a
[to top of second column]
"We started getting into a pretty good groove," said Leidner,
who passed for 141 yards in the second half. "We started feeling
confident. We were making plays. You've got to give the
(offensive line) credit. They were blitzing like crazy and the
o-line did a good job of picking all the guys up and it just
started falling together. But unfortunately we came up short."
Given the Gophers' offensive sluggishness, Syracuse appeared in
control after a 15-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard
Hunt touchdown run with 2:57 left in the third quarter. That was
the second methodical march for the Orange. The first came in
the second quarter when running back Jerome Smith capped an
80-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
Presented with an opportunity to tie the score, Syracuse kicker
Ryan Norton pushed his 45-yard field goal attempt wide right
with 3:31 left. When Estime provided the Orange another shot,
"The kids have learned so much from this season and I just
couldn't be happier with the results from today," Syracuse coach
Scott Shafer said. "It would have been nice if we could have
knocked them out and won by 17, but that's not our way this
year. I think it's appropriate we won in that fashion."
NOTES: Minnesota coach Jerry Kill coached from the sideline
during the second half, his first time doing so since the Golden
Gophers' 23-7 loss to Iowa. Kill spent the first half and the
majority of the season coaching from the press box while
managing his epileptic seizures. ... Syracuse and Minnesota
entered play averaging a combined 4.5 yards per rush. They
totaled 127 yards on 39 carries in the first half for an average
of only 3.3 yards per carry. The teams combined for 132 rushing
yards in the third quarter alone. ... Syracuse completed the
season as the lone team in FBS to not allow a 100-yard rusher.
Minnesota RB David Cobb paced the Golden Gophers with 91 yards
on 18 carries.
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.