Syracuse wins! It was not a particularly stress-free afternoon for the Syracuse Orange, but they managed to pull out a 31-24 victory over the UConn Huskies in East Hartford, Conn. SU breaks a two-game losing streak with the win and is now 2-2 on the year. UConn falls to the same 2-2 record.
It was Syracuse’s first road victory since October of 2014, vs. Wake Forest.
This was a strange one all around for the Orange, as the team once again started hot, scoring two quick touchdowns to go up 14-0 in the first quarter. From there, the offense sputtered and UConn gained some momentum. SU was up just 17-14 at the break. The story of the second half ended up, surprisingly, being the defense.
Cordell Hudson returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter to break a 17-all tie and put Syracuse up for good. Zaire Franklin and the rest of the defense also made a clutch late stop on the goal line, preventing Bryant Shirreffs from scrambling in for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. Before UConn’s desperate touchdown with just seconds to go in the fourth, SU had held the Huskies to just three points on the half.
Seeing improvement and some actual adjustments from the defense was appreciated, and much needed in a game where offense and special teams were not to be counted on as much as normal. Cole Murphy sent two kickoffs out of bounds, and also missed two field goals on the game (while making one). Sterling Hofrichter averaged under 40 yards per punt on the afternoon.
The offense, while definitely not operating all that well (just three touchdowns in this one and two of them were in the first 5-7 minutes of the game), still put up the sort of insane numbers you’re getting more accustomed to at this point.
Amba Etta-Tawo set the single-game record for receiving yards at Syracuse, with 12 catches for 270 yards. He has 40 catches and 706 yards on the season, plus five touchdowns. His 270-yard effort breaks Scott Schwedes’s 249-yard record from 1985. Etta-Tawo has already passed last year’s team-high in receiving yards as well, and he’s only four games in.
Eric Dungey, while not necessarily sharp all afternoon, still ended up with quite a statistical performance. The sophomore quarterback was 26-for-40 for 407 yards and two scores, plus he ran for another. Drops from Steve Ishmael (in the end zone) and Etta-Tawo (en route on a deep pass) would’ve been two more, potentially.
The Syracuse running game, clearly not a strength this year, struggled once again. Dontae Strickland led all carriers with 51 yards (on 14 touches). No one else had more than eight yards on the ground.
Plenty more recapping to come. Syracuse grabs a nice win in this one despite some rough patches, and the Orange are 2-2 heading into next week’s tough matchup with Notre Dame.