BC deprived of farewell outright Big East title

BOSTON (AP) -- If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Syracuse wasn't able to follow Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference or stop the Eagles from leaving the Big East. The one thing the Orange could do was deprive BC of a spot in the Bowl Championship Series and a farewell Big East title.

"We heard it all week," said defensive back turned running back Diamond Ferri, who scored two touchdowns on offense and one on defense to help Syracuse beat Boston College 43-17 on Saturday. "If they want to leave the conference, we wanted to send them out with a loss."

BC (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) needed a victory for its first outright championship in a league that has been depleted by the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC. The Eagles will join them next year but Syracuse, which tried to leave before being bypassed, made sure that they left on a sour note.

Damien Rhodes ran for a 69-yard touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage and 107 yards in all before leaving with a leg injury. With star tailback Walter Reyes already injured, the Orange (6-5, 4-2) turned to Ferri, a starting safety and former high
school running back.

"That's probably one of the biggest performances I've ever seen in my entire life, in any sport, to be able to come in and play big-time college football like that," Rhodes said of his understudy.

The Orange, who woke up Saturday morning ineligible for a bowl, moved into a four-way tie with BC (8-3, 4-2), Pittsburgh and West Virginia for first place in the conference. Syracuse has a chance at a BCS game if Pittsburgh loses to South Florida next week; if Pitt wins it would likely earn a Fiesta Bowl matchup with Utah.

"It gives us a share of the Big East championship. We've had a lot of special things that have happened here, but it's pretty special," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "I'm just going to enjoy that we're bowl-eligible."

BC will go to its sixth consecutive bowl game, but it will be a second- or third-tier event like the Insight or Gator. Athletic director Gene DeFilippo said six or more different bowl games could be in play.

But the Fiesta and Sugar, BC's goals at the start of the day, are out.

"I suspect at 8-3 we will go somewhere, but who knows where we'll end up," coach Tom O'Brien said. "We need another football game, especially for the seniors. ... For them, we need to play another football game."

Ferri ran for 141 yards two touchdowns and scored again on a 44-yard interception that made it 36-17 and sealed the victory in the fourth quarter. Perry Patterson was 9-for-16 for 88 yards, adding 48 yards rushing and a touchdown in what could be Pasqualoni's last game at Syracuse.

Pasqualoni lost a staunch ally when athletic director Jake Crouthamel announced that he will retire; Crouthamel hired Pasqualoni to replace Dick McPherson in 1991 and defended his coach through losing seasons in 2002 and '03.

Pasqualoni, who has a year remaining on his contract, followed 11 consecutive winning seasons by going 4-8 in two years ago and 6-6 last year.

"He's one of the greatest coaches in college football, in my opinion. He's grown me up as a man," center Matt Tarullo said. "He deserves to have this job and go to a bowl."

BC was playing without quarterback Paul Peterson, who broke his right hand in last week's victory over Temple. Freshman Matt Ryan was 24-for-51 for 200 yards with three interceptions and several early dropped passes. BC mustered little offense and fell behind 24-3 before scoring on a blocked punt in the final minute of the first half.

BC was going nowhere when O'Brien rushed 11 men on a Syracuse punt with 31 seconds left in the half. Brian Toal blocked the kick and DeJuan Tribble picked up the bouncing ball and ran it 29 yards for the touchdown to make it 24-10.

But the Eagles couldn't build on their good fortune.

Despite a 39-yard kickoff return that put BC at its 44 to start the second half, the Eagles got only as far as midfield and punted the ball back. Collin Barber kicked a 42-yard field goal to make it 27-10 and, after Anthony Smith's interception gave Syracuse the ball at the BC 23, Barber kicked from 35 yards to make it a 20-point game.

Ryan hit Joel Hazard from 11 yards out to make it 30-17, but Syracuse scored on Ferri's interception return and Patterson's TD run after BC fumbled the kickoff.