West Virginia football notebook: No answer for Orange rushers
NEW YORK — Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson had no explanation why West Virginia couldn't stop Syracuse's running game in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Mountaineers yielded a season-high 369 rushing yards in Saturday's 38-14 loss at Yankee Stadium.
Syracuse junior Prince-Tyson Gulley rushed for a game-high 208 yards and two touchdowns. Teammate Jerome Smith added 157 yards on 30 carries.
“You've got to be able to stop the run; that was one of the keys to victory,” Patterson said following his first game in charge of the defense. “They were breaking tackles. We knew it was coming. You've got to make plays.”
Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson took the blame for Geno Smith's first safety of the game midway through the second quarter, which gave Syracuse a 5-0 lead.
“That's my fault — me and Geno's fault. We should have just ran the ball,” Dawson said.
Syracuse received the ensuing free kick and drove 65 yards in six plays. Gulley's 33-yard touchdown run made it 12-0 with 6:07 remaining before halftime.
Ups and downs
Athletic director Oliver Luck described WVU's first year in the Big 12 as a learning experience.
Following a 2-0 start, the Mountaineers slumped to 4-5 in league play.
“Little bit of a transition to a new conference and new style of play. It's a tribute to the coaches and student-athletes,” Luck said prior to the bowl game. “I wish we could have gone 12-0 and played in the national championship game.
“We'll learn from our first year in the conference, because it is a little bit of a transition.”
Stedman Bailey finished his career with 14 100-yard receiving games, a WVU record. Bailey entered the game tied with Tavon Austin. ... Bailey's two touchdown catches gave him a school-record 150 points this season. ... Bailey also set school records for most TD catches in a season (25) and a career (41). ... Smith set school records for most TD passes in a season (42) and career (98). ... WVU is 14-18 all-time in bowl games. ... Syracuse finished with six wins in its last seven games, capped by its second postseason victory at Yankee Stadium in the past three years.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.