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1997 Syracuse football rewind: #21 Orange rally late to win at Pitt

No curse at Pitt Stadium

Syracuse Orangemen v Pitt Panthers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The 1997 Syracuse Orange entered their game at the Pittsburgh Panthers with a six-game winning streak. They were nearly twenty-point favorites heading into the game and early on that large spread made a lot of sense.

Even with starting running back Kyle McIntosh leaving after one carry, and joining his backfield mate Rob Konrad on the sideline, the Syracuse rushing attack was strong early. Dee Brown stepped into the lead back role and he scored two first-quarter touchdowns. Syracuse missed an extra point and failed to get the two-point conversion on Brown’s 2nd td so it was 12-0 at the end of the first.

Donovan McNabb found Kaseem Sinceno for a three-yard score and Syracuse held a 19-0 lead at the half. It looked like the Orange would be able to cruise home in this one. Neither team scored in the third and when Pitt finally got on the board, Kevin Johnson returned the ensuing kick-off 91 yards to push the lead back to 26-8.

That’s when the game changed. Pitt quarterback Pete Gonzalez got in a rhythm and he led two quick scoring drives to make it a 26-21 game. The Panthers stopped Syracuse and took over on their own 4-yard line where Gonzalez led a 96-yard drive capped by a 1-yard Billy West run and suddenly the home squad was up 27-26.

Syracuse Orangemen v Pitt Panthers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Syracuse was stunned but McNabb led the Orange on one last scoring drive. The star quarterback capped an 8-play 65 yard drive with a 24-yard pass to Quinton Spotwood to regain the lead with 28 seconds to play. Once again, the Orange couldn’t convert on the two-point play, but they held on for a 32-27 win.

Brown had 38 carries for 154 yards, McNabb was 20-31 for 263 yards with the two touchdowns and one interception. Spotwood had 8 receptions for 109 yards. Gonzalez led Pitt by going 20-37 for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

The Orange move to 8-3 on the season. After a week off, they travel to Miami to finish their regular season.