The Aloha Bowl couldn’t have been better for Syracuse or worse for Arizona.
The Orangemen didn’t allow Arizona inside their 28-yard line in Tuesday’s Aloha Bowl, winning, 28-0.
It was the first time the Wildcats have been shut out in 19 years.
“It’s not one of the better Christmases I’ve had,” Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said. “It was a terrible performance.”
Arizona (7-5) had scored in 214 consecutive games since a 31-0 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 27, 1971. It was the second-longest scoring streak in the nation behind UCLA’s 227 in a row.
Marvin Graves passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more for the Orangemen (7-4-2), who had lost to Miami, 33-7, in their final regular-season game.
“Coming out of the loss to Miami, I think a lot of us were embarrassed, so we wanted to prove something,” Graves said.
Syracuse kept almost constant pressure on Arizona quarterbacks Ronald Veal and George Malauulu, sacking them four times, and the Wildcats were unable to sustain any drives.
“Momentum-wise, they shut the door on us,” Tomey said.
“I thought our guys played their best game of the year,” Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson said. “We had a pretty good defensive game plan.”
Graves, a redshirt freshman who was voted most valuable player for the Orangemen, completed 10 of 19 passes for 145 yards and was intercepted once. He rushed 11 times for 45 yards.
He scored on a five-yard quarterback draw on Syracuse’s first possession. In the second quarter, he found a wide-open Terry Richardson for a 47-yard touchdown pass play as Syracuse took a 14-0 halftime lead.
It was anything but an offensive showcase on a cool, rainy day, but the Orangemen managed some long drives and 352 yards of offense. Syracuse scored on three long drives and capitalized on a defensive breakdown by the Wildcats for their other touchdown.
Todd Burden, who intercepted two passes, was chosen as Arizona’s MVP.
Arizona took a field-position advantage in the third quarter after Gary Coston faked a 50-yard field goal and punted to the Syracuse one-yard line.
The Wildcats got the ball back and moved to the Orangemen’s 41 before punting. They pushed to the 35-yard line before the third quarter ended, but Kevin Mitchell sacked Malauulu for a loss of eight yards and the Wildcats punted again.
Syracuse put it out of reach with a 90-yard touchdown drive, capped by six-yard pass from Graves to tight end Chris Gedney, who bulled into the end zone with 10:34 left.
Graves scored the final touchdown on a seven-yard quarterback draw with 3:47 left.
While Graves was the offensive spark in the first half, Arizona helped, stalling twice on fourth down inside Syracuse territory.
The Orangemen came out strong, moving 66 yards in 13 plays for a 7-0 lead. Running back David Walker converted on fourth and inches and Graves found wide receiver Rob Carpenter on third and six to sustain the drive.
On third and three at the Arizona five, Graves stepped back and dashed into the end zone untouched.
The Wildcats threatened early in the second quarter, driving to the Syracuse 30. Arizona went for it on fourth and eight, but Greg Walker broke up Veal’s pass intended for Richard Griffith.