The first bowl game played at Yankee Stadium in nearly 50 years did not disappoint.
Syracuse topped Kansas State 36-34 in a back-and-forth affair that resulted in the resurgent Orange's first bowl victory since defeating KSU in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl.
The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl was the first bowl game in the Northeast since 1981 and just the second ever held at Yankee Stadium. Coincidentally, the first one also ended 36-34, with Nebraska defeating Miami (Fla.) in the 1962 Gotham Bowl.
Despite freezing temperatures and the aftermath of the sixth-worst blizzard in New York City's recorded history, which dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on the Big Apple earlier in the week, there was no lack of enthusiasm from the 38,274 fans on hand.
The Associated Press called it one of the most exciting games of the postseason, but that excitement may have affected the outcome.
With 1:13 remaining, Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman completed his second touchdown pass of the game, connecting with wide receiver Adrian Hilburn on a 30-yard strike to cut Syracuse's lead to 36-34.
Hilburn gave a quick salute to the Wildcats fans seated behind the end zone, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt was pushed back 15 yards to the 17. Coffman's pass failed, and the orange-clad home-state faithful that filled most of the Stadium erupted in cheers.
"Maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I still think they shouldn't have made that call," a devastated Hilburn said after the game. "I guess my emotions took over. It was nothing planned out. I just did it. I was excited."
Instead, it was the Orange who celebrated on the Yankee Stadium field once the clock hit zero. Quarterback Ryan Nassib, who completed three touchdown passes to Marcus Sales, scaled the snow mounds behind the team's bench to shake hands with fans. Running back Delone Carter was named the game's MVP after rumbling for a career-high 198 yards and two touchdowns in his final collegiate game.
But it was Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone who may have felt the most inner pride. Having grown up in the Bronx and attended Lehman High School, the lifelong Yankees fan was overwhelmed after capturing the 2010 New Era Pinstripe Bowl George M. Steinbrenner Trophy.
"There was a moment out there tonight where I truly almost did break down and go to my knees," he said. "It truly is a dream come true for me."