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Wildcats Fall To Syracuse, 26-3, At Insight.com Bowl

GO WILDCATS Josh Scobey  picks up a short gain past Syracuse's Christian Ferrara (93) during the first quarter Saturday.
Josh Scobey picks up a short gain past Syracuse's Christian Ferrara (93) during the first quarter Saturday.

Dec 29, 2001

Final Stats?|? Notes

AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) - There were too many mistakes and too much Mungro for Kansas State in the Insight.com Bowl.

James Mungro wrapped up his outstanding collegiate career with 112 yards and three touchdowns, including a disputed 65-yarder as 18th-ranked Syracuse shut down the Wildcats 26-3 Saturday.

With his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season, Mungro passed Larry Csonka for second place on Syracuse's career rushing list with 2,981 yards. Only Joe Morris (1978-81) had more.

The Wildcats, fifth in NCAA Division I this season in rushing at 257 yards per game, ran for a season-low 33 yards in 34 attempts.

"Today was a great day for the defense - a great, great, great effort," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said.

The Orangemen, the Big East runner-up to No. 1 Miami, thought they deserved to play in a New Year's Day bowl, but were passed over by the Gator Bowl in favor of Virginia Tech.

To add to the insult, Syracuse was a 5{-point underdog against a Kansas State team that had to win four out of its last five to even qualify for a bowl.

"That was an incentive for us," Mungro said. "I don't think we were like, `Why are they favored?' But it was like `OK, they're favored, we know we're a better team. Let's go out there and prove to America we're a better team than them."'

The Orangemen (10-3) were in command of this one early, then celebrated with a big splash at the finish. Offensive linemen Giovanni Deloatch and Sean O'Connor leaped - uniforms and all - into the Bank One Ballpark swimming pool.

R.J. Anderson completed just five of 14 passes, but one of them was a 52-yarder to Johnnie Morant for a touchdown with 3:22 to play.

The Orangemen reached double-digit victories for the sixth time in school history but first since 1992.

They turned two Kansas State turnovers into touchdowns in a 52-second span in the second quarter.

Kansas State (6-6) failed to have a winning season for the first time since 1992. The Wildcats had won 11 in each of the previous four seasons.

"We didn't prepare as well as we should have, didn't play as well as we should have, and I didn't coach as well as I should have. From the outset, that has a lot to do with it," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.

Wildcats receiver Aaron Lockett, who caught four passes for 83 yards in his last college game, wondered why his team had so much trouble on offense despite so much practice time.

"It's just a frustrating feeling right now," Lockett said.

In a rematch of the teams that played in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, neither offense had much success. The difference was three big plays by Syracuse and four turnovers by Kansas State, including two interceptions by Willie Ford.

Mungro went 65 yards down the left sideline on an option play to give Syracuse a 7-0 lead with 6:38 to play in the first quarter, even though television replays showed he appeared to step out of bounds in front of the Kansas State bench at the 50.

"Right in front of my eyes," Snyder said.

Ell Roberson's only completion in 11 first-half attempts, a 47-yarder to Aaron Lockett, set up Joe Rheem's 29-yard field goal that made it 7-3 with 4:03 to go in the first quarter.

Then came Kansas State turnovers on consecutive plays that put Syracuse in firm control for good.

Punter Mike Ronsick bobbled the snap from center and Syracuse's Barry Baker recovered at the Wildcats 4. Mungro scored on a 1-yard run two plays later to put Syracuse up 13-7.

Marc Dunn replaced Roberson, and his first pass was picked off by Ford, who returned it 36 yards to the Kansas State 42. Anderson's 41-yard pass to Morant set up another 1-yard touchdown run by Mungro that gave Syracuse a 19-7 lead with 10:47 to play in the half.

Both conversion kicks were blocked by Kansas State's Josh Buhl.

Dunn replaced Roberson again and completed three quick passes to move the Wildcats to the Syracuse 24 in the final seconds of the half, but Rheem's 41-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.

Kansas State took the second-half kickoff and Dunn drove the team to the Syracuse 30, but Roberson - back for one play - fumbled and Josh Thomas recovered for the Orangemen at the 27.

A crowd of 40,028 attended the bowl game, which was moved two years ago to the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and is the only football contest played in the baseball facility.