Going into Friday night’s game, the No. 13 Syracuse Orange were favored to win by 20. When the final whistle blew against the Louisville Cardinals, they’d end up winning by 31 instead. Picking up their eighth victory of the season, SU triumphed on Senior Day, 54-23.
It was a rougher start than expected, with a Sean Riley punt return fumble. However, some timely special teams play and a bevy of Louisville turnovers quickly put this game on course for its eventual result. Syracuse led 7-0 after one quarter, but 37-7 at halftime. The script didn’t really change much from there.
In his final game at the Carrier Dome, Eric Dungey was 14-of-27 for 192 yards and a score (a 65-yard touchdown to Nykeim Johnson), while collecting 62 yards on the ground plus two more touchdowns. Surprisingly, Dungey wasn’t the team’s leading rusher for once, though. Moe Neal collected a career-high 159 yards and two TDs on just eight carries. Jarveon Howard had 71 yards (and a TD), and Dontae Strickland picked up 27 of his own, plus Otto Zaccardo chipped in yards in garbage time, too. This made for the sixth Orange game this season with 200 or more yards on the ground.
As mentioned, Johnson had the one big TD catch — his only grab on the game. Taj Harris led the way with six catches (all in the first half) for 58 yards, while Riley had three receptions for 51. Jamal Custis and Ravian Pierce each caught two balls as well.
The yardage totals do hint at how well the defense set the Orange up all game, however. Antwan Cordy’s long blocked field goal return set up Syracuse’s first TD of the game, as did timely picks by Andre Cisco and Kielan Whitner. No matter who was under center for Louisville, SU’s front four got after them with ease. Alton Robinson led the way with two sacks, while Chris Slayton and Kingsley Jonathan picked up 1.5 apiece. Shyheim Cullen also chipped in a sack on his own.
Also worth noting the Orange’s efforts to get Andre Szmyt even closer to the FBS record for made field goals in a season. Given our usual red zone struggles (ugh), Szmyt got four tries and hit them all. He’s now at 27 on the year, with just four to go until he ties the record of 31. Over the course of the game, he also became the single-season scoring leader in SU football history.
Nice work by the Orange getting the job done as expected — something top 25 teams are wont to do. With the victory, they move to 8-2 on the year (5-2) before next weekend’s likely College Gameday matchup against Notre Dame. Louisville drops to 2-8 (0-7) and seems poised to fire Bobby Petrino once the season ends.
More recap articles to come. G’ORANGE!