Photo by Nicole Rivera

Minnesota holds on to defeat Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl

The Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the Syracuse Orange, 28-20, in the 2022 Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

On a relatively balmy and mild winter day with temperatures hovering in the 40s and front of an announced attendance of 31,131, there was no score at the end of the first quarter.

Minnesota (9-4) gained momentum on a drive toward the end of the first quarter, mixing up running and passing plays. Early in the second quarter, on third-and-1, Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim took the handoff and barreled straight ahead into the end zone for the score.

On the ensuing Orange offensive possession, the offense moved the ball steadily into Minnesota territory. However, a fourth-down pass play ended short of the first down, resulting in a turnover on downs. The Golden Gophers starting at their 38-yard line, moved into Syracuse's end of the field as starting quarterback Athan Kaliaskmanis completed a couple of passes, including one on third down. Unfortunately, during one of the pass plays, Kaliaskmanis sustained a severe injury that knocked him out of the game.

Backup quarterback Tanner Morgan took over the signal-caller duties and had ice water in his veins. He lofted a 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Daniel Jackson, extending the Minnesota advantage to 14-0 with 6:39 left in the first quarter.

The Orange (7-6) offense reached near midfield on their next possession, but the coaching staff decided to punt the ball instead of going for it on fourth down and one on their own at 49. Syracuse's defense rose to the occasion forcing the Golden Gophers' offense into punting the ball away, but Minnesota punter Marc Crawford boomed a kick that landed deep in Orange territory.

With 55 seconds remaining in the half, Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader completed a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Devaughn Cooper, providing some breathing room. Shrader and Cooper hooked up again on another pass play that pushed the ball into the Gophers' end of the field.

On first-and-10 at the 31-yard line, Shrader heaved a pass that wide receiver Damien Alford reeled in. With time winding down in the quarter, Shrader took the snap at the one-yard line, scrambled out of the pocket, and rumbled into the end zone with eight seconds to go as Syracuse narrowed the score to 14-7 at halftime.

The Orange received the opening kickoff in the third quarter and carried the momentum over from the end of the second quarter. The offense strung together an impressive nine-play, 65-yard drive that lasted four and half minutes, culminating in a 40-yard field goal by placekicker Andrew Szmyt making it 14-10.

After the Syracuse defense forced a quick three and out, Crawford again belted another long punt that pinned the Orange at their 19-yard line. Syracuse's offense was undeterred, with running back LeQuint Allen ripping off a bunch of solid runs, including one for 29 yards, as the Orange were in an excellent position to put points up on the board again.

Shrader attempted to complete a pass out in the flat. The plan backfired as Golden Gophers defensive back Coleman Bryson swooped in for the interception and returned it 70 yards to the house for the score widening the Minnesota margin to 21-10 with 7:22 left in the third quarter.

Syracuse had to start again deep in their territory at the 21-yard line. Between Allen running the ball behind a stout offensive line that opened the running lanes and Shrader completing a couple of passes, the Orange knocked on the door again to score.

A 13-play, 53-yard drive that chewed up five and half minutes of the clock stalled out, but all was not lost as placekicker Andre Szmyt booted home a 40-yard field goal as Syracuse closed to within 21-13.

The momentum was short-lived as on the ensuing kickoff as Golden Gophers kickoff returner Quentin Redding returned the ball 72 yards to the Orange 25-yard line. On second-and-10 at the 25-yard line, Morgan connected with wide receiver Daniel Jackson on a scoring pass that extended the Minnesota lead to 28-13.

In the fourth quarter, Syracuse got the ball back at their ten-yard line with less than 11 minutes left. The Orange offense rumbled down the field to the 40-yard line. Once again, a fourth-down play ended with an incomplete pass, which forced a turnover on downs.

Syracuse's defense held up their part of the bargain forcing another three and out. With four and a half minutes to go, the Orange offense had an excellent starting field position at their 37-yard line.

Having to throw the ball, Shrader got the protection to complete a bunch of passes. Inside the red zone, the drive failed with Golden Gophers defensive lineman Thomas Rush punching the ball out of Shrader's hands and linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin scooping the ball, returning the ball 64 yards. The Orange caught a significant break as the officials on replay determined the Minnesota defense had 12 men on the field, yielding a penalty and Syracuse keeping possession of the ball.

Shrader found his favorite target in wide receiver Cooper for a ten-yard completion. After three incomplete passes, Shrader rolled out of the pocket on fourth and goal and sprinted into the end zone for the score.

Syracuse attempted to get the ball back, attemped the onside kick, but the Golden Gophers' special teams recovered the ball. Syracuse had a glimmer of hope but an unsportsmanlike penalty assessed against defensive back Alijah Clark after a third down stop squashed any hopes as Minnesota ran out the clock en route to a win at the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Orange thoroughly dominated the offensive statistics outgaining Minnesota in total yards (477 to 215) and first downs (27 to 14).

Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader completed 32-of-51 passes for 330 yards. Wide Receiver Devaughn Cooper caught seven passes for 114 yards. For Minnesota, running back Mohamed Ibrahim gained 73 yards on 16 carries.

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