At 5-2 on the year, the Syracuse Orange didn’t “need” win No. 6 on Saturday night, but it was damn comforting to get it nonetheless. The Orange started hot against the No. 22 N.C. State Wolfpack, then held on for a 51-41 victory at the Carrier Dome.
The win was Dino Babers’s third upset of a ranked team at the Dome in as many years.
As you’d guess by looking at the final score, there was very little defense being played in this game. Syracuse had an explosive first quarter, up 24-7 with 277 total yards, but followed it up with an iffy second to go into halftime up 27-20. The third quarter featured back and forth touchdowns between the two teams.
The victory hung in the balance late, but pressure from Alton Robinson led to a key interception from Andrew Armstrong with just over three minutes to go. Syracuse was able to able to score one more time from there to close out the win.
On the game, Syracuse had 561 total yards and 30 first downs, led almost entirely by the passing game. After some question marks about who would start at quarterback heading into the week, Eric Dungey seemed to leave little doubt about who the job belonged to in this one. He was 27-of-38 for 411 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and added another 59 yards on the ground.
Sean Riley and Nykeim Johnson were unstoppable through the air, as Riley hauled in 10 passes for 164 yards. Johnson seven for 136, including an 82-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Taj Harris had six catches for 86 yards, and Jamal Custis had three grabs for 86.
SU didn’t run the ball much in the first half, but got back to it a bit in the second. Dungey led the way of course, but Dontae Strickland managed 43 yards on 11 carries, and Moe Neal and Jarveon Howard tacked on a combined 22.
Credit to Andre Szmyt on the day too, for helping Syracuse mop up a few missed opportunities. He kicked three field goals on the day, hitting two from 40 or longer.
Congrats to Syracuse on the big win, and what a damn accomplishment for Dino Babers with this program. The Orange move to 6-2 on the year (3-2 in the ACC), while State falls to 5-2 (2-2).
Celebrate, ‘Cuse fans! We’re (eventually) going bowling!!!!