This past Saturday’s win against the N.C. State Wolfpack was one for the ages for the Syracuse Orange. Records fell, a bowl berth was clinched and if seeing points get put on the board are your thing, this was the contest for you.
As the game grew tighter, the Cardiac ‘Cuse made timely plays on both sides of ball (more so on the offensive end) to aid SU in holding onto the lead, win their sixth game of the season and lay claim to a Top 25 ranking for the first time since 2001. In a match with many highlights, here are some of the more electrifying plays from that night:
1. (9:28 - 1st) 2nd & 4 at Syracuse’s 18-yard line: Eric Dungey puts any questions about his shoulder to rest as he throws one of his best balls in a Syracuse uniform to a speedy Nykeim Johnson for an 82-yard touchdown.
2. (6:50 - 1st) 2nd & 4 at Syracuse’s 46-yard line: Following an NC State 3-and-out, Dungey would get the Orange into prime scoring position after throwing another perfect ball right into the hands of a streaking Jamal Custis for a 45 yard gain.
3. (2:45 - 1st) 1st & 10 at Syracuse’s 32-yard line: Offensive coordinator Mike Lynch went into his bag of tricks early as the Wolfpack defense was caught off guard by the Orange’s HB and impromptu QB Dontae Strickland who connected with Sean Riley on a deep ball to set up SU in NC State’s red zone.
4. (2:39 - 1st) 2nd & 10 at NC State’s 20-yard line: NC State’s Tanner Ingle was no match for Custis as the senior wideout had a sizeable height advantage over the 5’10” defensive back. Eric Dungey took immediate notice after the snap and hit his receiver for a touchdown. The Orange would take a commanding 24-7 lead following the three-play, 68-yard possession.
5. (0:06 - 2nd) 1st & 10 at NC State’s 44 yard line: The Orange machine that put up close to 300 yards in the first quarter began to run like an old jalopy as the NC State defense began to lock in. Being the senior leader that we’ve known him to be, Eric wouldn’t let Syracuse go into the half without scoring in the second. Using his feet and having awareness of the situation, Dungey sprinted 17 yards to the Wolfpack’s 27 to set up Andre Szymt for a 44 yard field goal.
6. (13:20 - 3rd) 3rd & 13 at NC State’s 39 yard line: Following a sack by the Wolfpack’s Germaine Pratt, it looked like the Orange were going to have the wind knocked out of their sails until Sean Riley came up big yet again with a timely out of the slot. The zip on Dungey’s ball over the middle is something that we hadn’t seen over the past three weeks.
7. (5:20 - 3rd) 2nd & 7 at Syracuse’s 28 yard line: Facing a third and long deep in their own territory, Eric Dungey would thread the needle over the middle to Nykeim Johnson. This was one of Eric’s more impressive passes on the night given that an errant throw could have been picked off by one of the three NC State defenders in the area.
8. (4:11 - 3rd) 2nd & 2 at NC State’s 31 yard line: Following Nykeim Johnson’s catch earlier in the possession, the Orange would once again find themselves driving on the Wolfpack following a personal foul penalty. Opponents past, present and future have taken notice of Eric Dungey being a true dual-threat quarterback and in NC State’s case they may have watched too much film as Chris Ingram was sucked in on the run pass option allowing Taj Harris to get behind him for a touchdown.
9. (12:40 - 4th) 3rd & 21 at Syracuse’s 26 yard line: Nursing a seven point lead, the Orange were up against the wall on the wrong side of the field early in the fourth quarter. In a third down situation deep on their side of the field, Eric Dungey and Sean Riley would hook up once again for a 29-yard pass over the middle to extend the drive. While Riley didn’t haul in a touchdown, the waterbug was too much for the Wolfpack linebacker corps and secondary as he brought in 10 catches for 164 yards.
10. (2:10 - 4th) 3rd & 10 at NC State’s 15 yard line: If you enjoy hard-nosed, defensive football then you may have needed a safe space after the clock hit 0:00. As shown by the 92 combined points, both units had their difficulties stopping the opposing team from getting into the endzone. An SU alumnus once sung about saving the best for last and on this night, Brian Ward’s defense wasn’t going to let the offense get all of the glory. On the ensuing drive following a stand by NC State, Wolfpack signal caller Ryan Finley had the chance march his team down the field and steal a victory in the Carrier Dome. Alton Robinson wouldn’t have any of that as he blew past the right tackle and took Finley down with a bone crunching hit just as he was letting go of the ball. Andrew Armstrong got the game’s only turnover that night, but it was enough as the Orange would clinch the victory and move to 6-2 on the 2018 season.
The Orange travel to Winston-Salem this Saturday to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who are allowing 36.8 points per game this season. Barring an unforeseen hurricane, could we witness yet another offensive showing like the one against NC State? Catch them at Noon on Raycom Sports to find out.