PHILADELPHIA - Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 BIG EAST) rallied from a 20-17 third-quarter deficit with 21 unanswered points and closed its regular season by winning at Temple (4-7, 2-5 BIG EAST), 38-20 Friday morning.
Cornerback Keon Lyn sealed the triumph with a 31-yard interception return for a score in the game's final minutes. He added a second interception on Temple's final possession.
Syracuse, which became bowl eligible by defeating Missouri last Saturday, closed out the regular campaign with three straight wins and victories in five of its last six outings. The Orange also won its final BIG EAST Conference game -- Syracuse will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2013.
The Orange trailed 20-17 after a Temple touchdown with 8:53 remaining in the third quarter. On the ensuing possession, Syracuse engineered a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive that recaptured the lead for good. The march included 10 running plays and was finished off by Adonis Ameen-Moore's plunge from the one-yard line. Ross Krautman's extra point made it 24-20 Syracuse.
After forcing Temple to punt, Syracuse drove 75 yards again, this time on 11 plays, and Prince Tyson-Gulley ran the final three yards for a touchdown. The PAT put SU ahead, 31-20. Lyn's pick-six closed out the scoring.
The Owls opened the game with a 47-yard field goal by Brandon McManus that capped Temple's first possession. Following a fumble by wide receiver Marcus Sales, Temple marched 74 yards in 11 plays and quarterback Juice Granger connected with wideout John Christopher on a 12-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining in the opening period. A McManus extra point extended the lead to 10-0.
After the Temple touchdown, Nassib guided Syracuse 77 yards in seven plays. He found Sales in the end zone and Krautman's extra point pulled the Orange within three, 10-7. The SU defense forced a Temple punt and Nassib had the offense racing to paydirt again. Ameen-Moore's career-long, 18-yard run and Krautman's PAT put Syracuse up 14-10 with 9:11 left in the second period.
The Owls reqrouped and manuvered into a first-and-goal at the Syracuse five. The Orange defenders answered the challenge and held Temple to another McManus field goal, this time from 22 yards.
Syracuse went three-and-out on its next possession, but Jonathan Fisher's punt was mishandled by Montel Harris and Dan Vaughan recovered at the Temple 47. Krautman's 26-yard three-pointer closed out the first-half scoring, and Syracuse led at the break, 17-13.
Syracuse gained 260 yards on the ground and 475 yards overall. Jerome Smith finished with 96 yards on 20 carries, Tyson-Gulley had 83 yards on 13 carries and Ameen-Moore posted career bests with 10 attempts, 57 yards and two touchdowns.
Nassib was 16-of-28 for 215 yards and a touchdown. Lemon had five receptions for 74 yards.
Smith gave Syracuse a 1,000-yard rusher for the fifth straight season, surpassing the mark in the third quarter. Lemon broke his own school record for season catches after grabbing five to up his total to 70, and went by 1,000 yards receiving in the game as well.
Cameron Lynch, Dyshawn Davis, Shamarko Thomas and Marquis Spruill each had six total tackles to pace the Orange defense. Lynch, Davis and Durell Eskridge had sacks for the Orange.