Paul Pasqualoni did something yesterday that he had not done before in his nine years as head coach at Syracuse -- he let a freshman start on defense. Smart move.

First-year linebacker Clifton Smith caused a crucial fumble by West Virginia tailback Avon Cobourne at the Syracuse goal line midway through the fourth quarter, and the Orangemen escaped with a 30-7 victory at the Carrier Dome.

"That was huge," Pasqualoni said. "They get one in there and it's 17-14. It was the biggest play of the game."

Smith's play came with the Syracuse defense on its heels and the Orangemen ahead 17-7.

"I played off a block and I happened to see Cobourne," said Smith, who assisted on just two tackles. "He turned it up at me and when he got ready to cut it back he had the ball exposed. I just put my head on the ball."

Lineman Duke Pettijohn scooped it up and returned it out of harm's way to the 39.

West Virginia's only points came on Jay Taylor's 23-yard field goal and two safeties.

BOSTON COLL. 27, RUTGERS 7: In Piscataway, N.J., Cedric Washington rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles (3-0, 1-0) added to the winless Scarlet Knights' growing woes.