TAMPA, Fla. — Syracuse delivered a message to Louisiana State and the Southeastern Conference Monday: Don't knock what you haven't seen.
"Everyone ridicules us because we're from the East, and they say Eastern boys can't play football," running back Robert Drummond said after the 17th-ranked Orangemen rushed for 208 yards and intercepted 3 passes to beat LSU, 23-10, in the Hall of Fame Bowl.
"I think we showed we could play today. They (LSU players) were cocky. They have some arrogance. We knew that, but we put on our pads and we proved ourselves on the field. This was the biggest victory in my 4 years at Syracuse."
Drummond rushed for 122 yards in 23 carries and scored 2 touchdowns, and All-American safety Markus Paul had 1 of the 3 interceptions for Syracuse, which still found itself defending the team's success after winning 21 games in the last 2 seasons.
"Today, they saw the North come down and play like the South," said Dick MacPherson, coach of the Orangemen. "It was our answer to the critics.
"I think the SEC from teams one through seven is the strongest conference in America," added MacPherson, whose team tied Auburn of the SEC, 16-16, in last season's Sugar Bowl.
LSU and Auburn were co-champions of the SEC this season.
Drummond, the game's most valuable player, scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter and snapped a 10-10 tie with a 1-yard touchdown dive with 5:53 left in the third period.
Todd Philcox completed 16 of 23 passes, including a 4-yard touchdown toss to Deval Glover that made it 23-10 less than a minute into the final quarter.
Placekicker Kevin J. Greene missed the extra point after Syracuse's last touchdown, but the school's NCAA record of 260 consecutive PATs remained intact because bowl games do not count in season statistics.
Syracuse, winning a postseason game for the first time since defeating McNeese State in the 1979 Independence Bowl, finished with a 10-2 record, on the heels of last season's 11-0-1.
The Orangemen wore special armbands on their jerseys bearing the number "103," in remembrance of 38 Syracuse students who died in the Dec. 20 crash of Pan Am Flight 103 near Lockerbie, Scotland.
The 16th-ranked Tigers (8-4) rallied from a 10-0 deficit to tie the game in the third quarter but were unable to stop Syracuse on two offensive possessions that turned the game around.
Drummond's tie-breaking touchdown capped a 12-play, 67-yard drive highlighted by a pair of 13-yard pass receptions by Rob Moore plus an 8-yard end-around run by the Syracuse wide receiver.
The key play in the march, though, was a pass interference call against LSU cornerback Jimmy Young in the Tiger end zone.
A crowd of 51,112 saw the game at Tampa Stadium.