Celebratory Salute Mars Wild Pinstripe Bowl Victory for Syracuse
Trailing Syracuse 36-28 with just over a minute left, Kansas State rallied to within two points on a 30-yard scoring strike from Carson Coffman to Adrian Hilburn. Hilburn cruised to the back of the end zone then offered a quick military-style salute to fans seated around the end zone. That gesture drew an "excessive celebration" penalty that forced the Wildcats' two-point attempt to be moved back 15 yards to the 18. It predictably failed. It was the salute soon to be discussed around the world, marring one of the better bowl games this year.
A surge of outrage emerged on Twitter and likely soon the rest of the college football world in questioning whether the NCAA's celebration and sportsmanship rules have gone too far.
Unfortunately that discussion will overshadow the Orange's surprising revival under coach Doug Marrone.
In two years Marrone turned one of the FBS' worst programs into a bowl winner. Although the Orange defense carried the program through much of 2010, the offense finally woke up in time to run and throw all over the Kansas State defense.
Junior receiver Marcus Sales, once buried beyond recognition on the depth chart, had three touchdown catches and nearly a fourth as part of a 172-yard outing. Senior back Delone Carter had one of his finest games, rushing for 202 yards and two touchdowns while also passing Larry Csonka for third place on the Orange all-time rushing list.
Their efforts were part of a wild overall game featuring flea-flickers, double reverses, fake field goals and more on a slick playing surface that was buried under nearly two feet of snow earlier this week.
Kansas State senior back Daniel Thomas capped a superb two-year career with three rushing touchdowns. The high school and junior college quarterback also completed a 29-yard pass to Coffman.
With the win, the Orange have turned 2009's 4-8 record into this year's 8-5 mark. It was a much-needed win after dropping three of their final four games that ended any chance at the Big East crown and a BCS bid.
All offseason, Marrone emphasized the team's goal was to get a winning record and play in a bowl game. Now it has done it, and even managed to come out with a win. Expectations are once again on the rise as the Orange are likely to merit at least some offseason mention as contenders for next year's Big East championship.