Damn. What a rough weekend in New York City for Syracuse Orange athletics.
After an encouraging start from SU women’s basketball (beat Texas A&M) on Wednesday, the men’s team proceeded to underwhelm in two games, then the football team topped it off with a listless drubbing at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, 36-3.
The game was an uphill battle right from the beginning. Syracuse’s early passing plays weren’t working and Eric Dungey threw an interception. Dungey left the game with what appeared to be a lower back injury in the first quarter and never returned. Even after the stronger-armed Tommy DeVito came in and started throwing it around more, SU barely accumulated 100 yards through the air all day (and most of it in garbage time).
Unfortunately, the run game didn’t fare much better, with 38 carries for 119 yards (Moe Neal led with 74). Syracuse’s offensive line turned in its worst performance of the season as the Irish crashed in on every play from the first whistle. Notre Dame had 10 tackles for loss and six sacks on the game. It felt like more, though.
Despite the picture painted above, Syracuse would still have its chances.
When he entered the game, DeVito hit Nykeim Johnson for what would’ve been a gorgeous touchdown to trim the ND lead to 13-7. But he couldn’t hold on and SU would end up punting (a theme). The Syracuse defense played incredibly well in the end zone, repeatedly forcing field goals, and Andre Cisco had a critical interception on a fourth down thrown from Notre Dame’s Ian Book. Still, the offense just couldn’t do anything with it.
Syracuse’s defense had seven TFLs and two sacks, and actually held the Irish to under 100 yards on the ground before garbage time. But without getting to Book as often as they would’ve liked, Notre Dame’s pass game ended up carving them up — especially with the shorter fields regularly afforded them via Orange turnovers.
Finally moving the ball a little bit late, Syracuse was able to get the ball into the red zone and give Andre Szmyt a shot to add a field goal and get closer to the FBS single-season record. However, the usually automatic kicker would miss off the upright from just 23 yards out. He’d get another chance later, and hit the second one from 28 yards to make for his 28th field goal on the season (in 31 tries).
We don’t know Dungey’s status yet for next week, but you have to wonder what might’ve been had he been able to play the full contest today. Things weren’t looking great early, and given the offensive line play, I’d have expected a loss just the same. Still, without DeVito being much of a threat with his legs, the Irish front seemed to have a read on him the entire afternoon.
Let’s just hope Dungey is back and healthy to close out his senior season. This has been a great year for him and this program. He’s taken his lumps along with the Orange and it’s only fitting that he’s able to author the final couple pages of his story on his own terms.
Syracuse is 8-3 (5-2 in ACC), while Notre Dame moves to 11-0. More recap conversation to come...