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Jerome Smith scores a TD as Syracuse rallies for bowl victory

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Syracuse tailback Jerome Smith, who last week announced he was bypassing his senior season to turn pro, ran for 74 yards and a touchdown Friday night as the Orange edged Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl.

Syracuse led 14-3 entering the fourth quarter, then saw Minnesota score twice in a little more than two minutes early in the period for a 17-14 lead. Minnesota had a chance to run out the clock late, but couldn't muster a first down; Syracuse's Brisly Estime returned the ensuing punt 70 yards to Minnesota's 14, and Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt scored the game-winning TD three plays later with 1:14 left.

Minnesota rallied when coach Jerry Kill returned to the sideline for the first time since Sept. 28. Kill spent the first half in the press box, where he has spent game days since returning from a leave of absence because of epilepsy.

"I felt I would do anything I can to help," Kill said in the postgame news conference. "I'm not sure if it helped or not. Evidently, it didn't because we didn't win the game."

Smith, who had 11 rushing touchdowns during the regular season, scored Syracuse's first TD on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter. He helped the Orange (7-6) rush for 208 yards, the third-highest rushing total given up by Minnesota (8-5) this season. Syracuse finished with 396 yards, the fifth-most gained against Minnesota this season.

Golden Gophers senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, a potential first-round pick, had four tackles, including two tackles for loss. He finished the season with 13 tackles for loss. Hageman was outplayed by Syracuse senior defensive tackle Jay Bromley, who also had two tackles for loss and one of Syracuse's four sacks.

Minnesota was aiming for its first nine-win season since 2003 and only its second since 1905. (Seriously, 1905.) Syracuse finished with a winning record for just the third time in the past 13 seasons.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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