The Cardiac Kids seem to be a phrase synonymous with the start of a Syracuse athletic season. Last year it was the basketball team that struggled to put away average opponents.
And when the Orange were all tied up with Toledo game at half Saturday, no one worried or stressed, as we all knew the outcome was safe once again.
The moment Danny Noble ran 30 yards down the field to give Toledo the guaranteed three points was the moment all Syracuse fans collectively screamed. Not just to pump up the defense, but because, for the second time in three games at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse needed an extra few plays to put away an opponent.
Toledo and their two-headed quarterback attack came ready to play and, as a result, Syracuse’s struggling secondary was tested early, often and left stumbling around by the time Austin Dantin was done with them.
Dantin finished with 258 yards passing and all-purpose threat Eric Page shredded the secondary for 158 yards on 13 receptions. Much like Ryan Nassib has, Dantin utilized short passes all game and the Orange defense struggled to adjust.
Ultimately, the secondary did get the last laugh with Keyvn Scott’s interception in the first overtime time, but there is still work to be done heading into Big East play.
Offensively, this was one of the first times Syracuse featured a true balanced attack. As a result, they moved the ball efficiently, racking up 153 yards on the ground and 213 in the air.
Antwon Bailey showed physicality and quickness in his 114-yard performance, but Prince Tyson-Gulley stole the show. Gulley ran for 66 yards, but looked electric as he weaved through Toledo’s defense in a head-turning performance.
However, once again, Nassib was the rock of the offense. Another 213 yards and two touchdowns bring his season stats to 939 yards and nine touchdowns; numbers that have him on track for a record-breaking and award-winning season.
The play of the game had to be Nassib’s touchdown to Alec Lemon in the fourth quarter after literally lobbing the ball into the end zone. Nassib’s heave was the result of heavy pressure that had him on his back, but Lemon demonstrated his incredible football IQ in finding and bringing in the ball for the game-tying score.
Moving forward, this game is essentially a summation of Syracuse’s non-conference life in 2011: great offense, not as great defense, and a whole lot of heart. This team is at the same mark it was last year (3-1) but many argue that on balance, this team has defeated more impressive opponents. Toledo put up a fight; they played hard and made Syracuse earn their win Saturday.
Even as Ryan Cosano’s 20-yard kick sailed through the uprights, there was never any doubt the Cardiac Kids of Syracuse would pull out the win once again.
On a side note, there was controversy on the field concerning Syracuse's final extra point after Lemon’s touchdown. From the student section, it looked as if the ball had pulled to the outside. The referees on the field initially called the PAT good before going to review, where the decision was upheld.
After the game, the Big East released a statement saying that both officiating parties completely blew the call. Holy Toledo, the Orange really are the luckiest 3-1 team in the nation.