SYRACUSE, N.Y. – That big-game magic eluded the University of Maine on Saturday night at the Carrier Dome.

After a strong first half hinted of an upset, Maine struggled in the second and watched Syracuse pull away for a 38-14 victory.

Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib threw five touchdown passes in front of a crowd of 37,758.

“We got our butts kicked. I’m very, very disappointed by our performance in the second half,” said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove. “Embarrassed how poorly we executed on both sides of the ball.”

Maine (1-2) held leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 14-10 in the first half, then trailed by just three points, 17-14, at halftime on a score late in the second quarter by the Orange that seemed to change the momentum.

The go-ahead score was set up when quarterback Warren Smith was sacked and fumbled. The Orange (2-1) recovered the ball on the Maine 23 with 3:52 to play in the half.

Nassib moved the offense to the 3-yard line and completed a pass to Jose Cruz at the edge of the end zone that was confirmed a touchdown after a video review.

One play before Smith’s fumble, wide receiver Derek Session dropped a pass in the clear that would’ve given the Black Bears a 20-10 lead.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Smith, who was sacked three times.

Smith was 20 of 27 for 127 yards, and Maine rushed for 66 yards.

“We can hang with any team, but we didn’t execute,” Smith added.

Nassib had 260 passing yards, finding receivers open for a pair of 20-yard touchdowns and a 21-yarder in the second half.

The final TD came after a fumble forced by defensive end Chandler Jones that was recovered on the Maine 21. Nassib connected with Van Chew on the next play.

“We weren’t disciplined,” said Maine cornerback Dominic Cusano. “We were buying their first moves. It was the little things.”

Said Cosgrove: “We didn’t cover guys. We didn’t block anybody.”

The defeat was the second straight in the Carrier Dome for Maine, which loss 41-24 last year.

Maine (1-2) outgained Syracuse 58-34 on the ground in the first half, with Jared Turcotte pic king up 34 yards on seven carries. He finished with 92 yards rushing and receiving.

“Every football team can go out and play,” said Turcotte. “You have to respond. We lost this game ourselves.”

Smith rushed for a 10-yard score to give Maine its first lead. He completed a well-executed drive that spanned 86 yards and included a 10-yard penalty on Maine.

Two possessions later, Syracuse returned a punt to the Maine 25, and Nassib threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alec Lemon.

Maine responded with a 56-yard drive that ended with Smith’s 6-yard pass to Justin Perillo. The extra-point kick gave Maine a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

NOTES: Late in the game, Smith was driven to the ground after completing a pass to Julian McCall and was removed from the game. He did participate in the postgame press conference. Left guard Matt Barber was helped off the field after one play and did not return. He has a knee injury. Left tackle Josh Spearin did not make the trip. 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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