Coming off of a difficult loss at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a rivalry game against the Boston College Eagles (7-5, 4-4) would be the perfect litmus test for the No. 18 Syracuse Orange (9-3, 6-2).
One of the bigger questions coming into the week for the Orange was if Eric Dungey would see any action. Dino Babers was tight-lipped regarding his quarterback’s health and it wasn’t until kickoff did we see Eric suited up and ready to go in what would be his first season finale. The hot tub conference with Babers and Tommy Devito must have been what the senior needed as he made a Wolverine-like recovery to lead SU to victory.
1. (3:15 - 1st) 1st & 10 at Syracuse’s 25-yard line: Talk about busted coverage. I know Sean Riley is short in stature, but by no means does that mean you can forget about him on the field. Riley was so open off of the Boston College miscommunication that Dungey was able to loft the ball into his waiting hands as he took it in for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game.
2. (9:28 - 1st) 2nd & 4 at Syracuse’s 18-yard line: Syracuse has had a punter that was capable of leaping over defenders in a single bound and now they have one who can tackle with the best of them. On the ensuing kickoff following Riley’s touchdown, Sterling Hofrichter’s textbook tackle forced a fumble which set up SU deep in Boston College’s territory. If you could pinpoint a moment in which the Orange took control of the game, this might be it.
3. (9:28 - 1st) 2nd & 4 at Syracuse’s 18-yard line: An element that the Orange missed last week with Dungey’s injury was the ability to improvise and extend plays with his legs. Eric kept the play alive along enough by eluding an incoming Mike Palmer to find Jamal Custis for a 34-yard gain. Dungey would take it in himself three plays later to give Syracuse a 14-7 lead.
4. (0:06 - 1st) 2nd & 11 at Boston College’s 29-yard line: Despite AJ Dillon suffering from an ankle injury that has bothered him for two months, the Syracuse run defense shut down one of the nation’s premier backs and rushing offenses altogether. In total, BC racked up 105 yards on the ground on 32 attempts compared to Syracuse’s 197 on 32 rushes.
5. (14:27 - 2nd) 3rd & 5 at Syracuse’s 38-yard line: Success through the air is essential for Dino Babers’s offense to click, but so is having an effective ground game. In Year 3 of his tenure, the cake finally rose to the top. The Orange offensive line dominated in the trenches and here, they cleared a lane so big for Dontae Strickland that he could have walked through it untouched. The senior HB would gain 32 of his 129 yards on the day directly on this play.
6. (2:28 - 2nd) 3rd & 7 at Syracuse’s 28-yard line: Even with the Eagles dropping eight into coverage, the BC defense lost track of Taj Harris, who Dungey found for a 35-yard reception to the Eagles 37.
7. (1:37 - 2nd) 3rd & 1 at Boston College’s 18-yard line: Runs like this are what will be remembered long after Dungey plays his final game at SU. The quarterback with a linebacker’s build, sells a QB sneak only to blow by the Boston College linebackers and flattens Will Harris on his way to the end zone. As Brock Huard said during the replay, Eric is one bad man.
8. (0:44 - 2nd) 2nd & 18 at Boston College’s 21-yard line: The Syracuse defensive front that has terrorized opponents this season managed to collect three sacks on the day. The second of the game came after Tyrell Richards’s on the previous play. Feeling the pressure caused by Alton Robinson, Anthony Brown moves forward in the pocket only to find himself in the arms of Kingsley Jonathan for a four yard loss.
9. (9:17 - 3rd) 2nd & 10 at Boston College’s 30-yard line: Chalk this one up to effort. In a case of who wanted it more, Trill Williams intercepts a 50-50 ball that was a tad bit underthrown.
10. (7:09 - 3rd) 3rd & 13 at Syracuse’s 33-yard line: One of the big takeaways from this game was Syracuse’s efficiency on third down. The Orange finished the afternoon 11/22 against Boston College in these circumstances. In this instance, Dungey found a wide open Moe Neal in the flat for a completion and 17 yard run after. What you didn’t see in the initial play was yet again another BC defensive breakdown. There were four Eagles players covering three SU wideouts leaving Neal with room to run after a catch.
11. (4:57 - 3rd) 1st & 10 at Boston College’s 18-yard line: Height wins out every time. Lukas Denis is no match for the 6’5” Custis, who was on the receiving end of Dungey’s second passing touchdown of the afternoon.
12. (11:46 - 4th) 2nd & 5 at Syracuse’s 18-yard line: When the Syracuse Athletics video production team puts together their highlight reel of the season, I expect to see this throw from Dungey to Sharrod Johnson on it. Eric used that muscle he gained this past offseason to turn what would have been a nine yard loss into a 17 yard completion.
13. (9:12 - 4th) 3rd & Goal at Boston College’s 2-yard line: Red zone efficiency hasn’t been a strong point of the Orange this season often settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. On their fourth possession in the red zone, Syracuse would go 4/4 in that part of the field after Dungey’s perfectly thrown ball to Harris.
14. (7:41 - 4th) 3rd & 10 at Syracuse’s 40-yard line: Down 21 and facing their third consecutive loss, time wasn’t on the Eagles side. Facing a third and long, BC was forced into a passing situation of which Robinson has feasted all season. The defensive end was too much for the right tackle and forced a fumble (also recorded his tenth sack) that was recovered by Richards.
15. (1:49 - 4th) 1st & 10 at Syracuse’s 18-yard line: With the Orange minutes away from their ninth victory of the season, First-Team All-ACC safety Andre Cisco took the national lead in interceptions by picking off Anthony Brown for his seventh of the year.
With the regular season now at a close, Syracuse will await their bowl game fate. Will they head back to Yankee Stadium to defend their undefeated record in Pinstripe Bowl? Or will they hang out with Mickey Mouse in Orlando (the Camping World Bowl)?
Whatever the case may be, a Tier 1 bowl bid would be another feather in the team’s proverbial cap as they shattered expectations by finishing at 9-3 and second overall in the ACC Atlantic.