It wasn’t picture-perfect, but it was close as the Syracuse Orange wore down the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium Saturday, 42-21. Syracuse (9-3, 6-2) now has the most wins overall and in conference during a season since 2001. Furthermore, the victory over the Eagles secures a second-place finish in the ACC’s Atlantic division and could very well propel Dino Babers and company into the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida next month.
So, how did SU eventually suffocate Boston College and earn its second road conference game this month?
Eric Dungey is a football warrior robot who was created in a lab for the sole purpose of scoring touchdowns for Syracuse University
Senior quarterback Eric Dungey, who was thought to be a game-time decision all week after leaving last Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame early, started and absolutely put on a show. Not only did Dungey play, he set the tone early by taking the first snap and running a draw (so much for taking it easy). From there, Dungey accounted for all of Syracuse’s touchdowns ( a career high of six), rushing for three and passing for three more. For the game, Dungey earned 396 total yards, 362 coming through the air. The record-setting performance gives Dungey a school-best 32 total touchdowns this season.
It wasn’t just the big stats, though, for the senior playing in his last regular season game for the Orange. No, Dungey seemed to want to send a message or two. His rushing scores were both hard fought and required his taking some punishment in order to get into the end zone. Plus, following his second TD on the ground, Dungey blew kisses to the BC student section. He actually was slapped with an unsportsmanlike penalty in the first half, and was incorrectly named as a culprit of the same violation in the fourth quarter.
The nail in the Boston College coffin came when Dungey (who else?) threw a perfect fade pass to Taj Harris, putting Syracuse up by 21. It was the cap on the game and on the quarterback’s regular-season career. Fittingly enough, it all happened when most Orange faithful figured Dungey might not play. Instead, for the first time in his college career, Dungey started and finished the last game of the regular season.
The Orange shows a killer a mentality
This one is two fold, as Syracuse both missed an opportunity to put the game away right after halftime, but also later on methodically put the Eagles on ice.
The Orange took a 28-14 lead into the break, but after a Dungey interception, BC was able to get back into the game by scoring on a big passing game early in the third quarter. At the time, it appeared as though Syracuse was going to let the Eagles, outmatched and playing without star running back AJ Dillon (12 carries for 56 yards in essentially two quarters) for most of the game, stick around for far too long.
Then came an 11-play, 76-yard momentum-killing drive by the Orange later in the quarter. Babers had his offense playing at its best by mixing inside runs with screens and some short dump-offs. Eventually, with the BC defense gassed, Dungey was able to hit Jamal Custis in the endzone to cap off the soul-crushing drive.
From that point forward, the Orange defense started getting pressure on quarterback Anthony Brown and started bottling up the Eagles backs. And offensively, Syracuse probably could have easily put up 50 points and put a true hurting on BC. But Babers went more ground-and-pound, and a little dink-and-dunk, to walk out of Alumni with the win.
Syracuse’s big men up front controlled the game
While it’s true, the quarterback is probably one of the biggest reasons why SU now has nine total wins. Dungey, as stated earlier, did a little bit of everything in the road victory. But the spotlight should also shine on the offensive lineman, who were physical all game long.
The bigs up front allowed for Dungey to account for nearly 400 total yards, and it created running lanes and a comfortable pocket. In total, SU rushed for 197 yards and 559 total yards as a team. Senior back Dontae Strickland toted the ball 20 times for 129 yards, while Dungey and Moe Neal both rushed for over 30 yards respectively.
Another big key is how the Orange, for as fast paced as it likes to play, still controlled the game. Syracuse had possession for over 37 minutes compared to Boston College’s 22 minutes of having the ball. The Orange, in some regard, Boston Colleged Boston College, by sucking the life out of the game.
As was the case against Wake Forest, Babers proved he and his teams can win on the road in November and that Syracuse isn’t just a gimmicky inside team. If needed, the offense can do its own version of pounding out wins. Which might mean runs up the middle, run-pass options or passes out in the flats. The Orange was able to do whatever it wanted and that’s a big credit to the o-line.