Syracuse 37, Buffalo 17
Sept. 11, 2004
AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) Anthony Smith blocked two straight punts in the second quarter, scoring off the first and setting up another touchdown with the second, and Syracuse overcame a shaky start to beat Buffalo 37-17 on Saturday night.
The Bulls (0-2) coming off their second consecutive 1-11 season and regarded as one of the worst teams in Division I-A, had Syracuse (1-1) reeling early and were threatening to hang a defeat on the Orange that would have made last week's season-opening 51-0 loss at Purdue an afterthought.
Instead, after J.J. Gibson returned a fumble by Syracuse fullback Greg Hanoian 57 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulls a shocking 10-3 lead early in the second quarter, the Orange defense clamped down and led a 24-point surge before halftime.
That spoiled the night for a school-record-crowd of 29,013, just short of capacity at Buffalo Stadium, who turned out hoping for an upset over the most high-profile team to visit Buffalo in the school's modern era.
And it was Smith who led the way. With the Bulls pinned back at their 10, he took advantage of a bad snap, blocked a punt by Ben Woods near the goal line, and then pounced on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Buffalo was unable to gain a first down after the ensuing kickoff, and Smith rose to the occasion again, making a diving block of another Woods punt. This time, Kellen Pruitt caught the ball and returned it 13 yards to the 1.
It was the fourth career block for Smith, one off the school record held by David Tyree, and marked the first time a Syracuse player had blocked two kicks in a game since Michael Dresner blocked two punts against West Virginia in 1996.
After getting tackled for a loss on first down, Walter Reyes scored on a 3-yard run to put Syracuse ahead 17-10 with 7:14 left in the second quarter.
Reyes, touted for the Heisman Trophy after gaining 1,347 yards scoring 21 TDs last year, finished with only 59 yards on 17 carries, his second subpar game in a row. Still, he moved past Floyd Little into fourth place on the school's career rushing list with 2,713.
After the Bulls went three-and-out, Damien Rhodes scored on a nifty 46-yard up the middle, the longest run of his career. A 38-yard field goal by Collin Barber gave Syracuse a 27-10 halftime lead.
Kelvin Smith returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown midway through the third to give Syracuse a 37-10 lead.
Buffalo linebacker Ollice Ervine recovered a fumble in the end zone by Syracuse quarterback Xzavier Gaines with 4:21 left for the game's final points.
Prior to the game, former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner jogged around the field carrying an American flag and country singer Lee Ann Womack sang the national anthem to commemorate the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.