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Second half thread: Syracuse 34, Western Michigan 7

DEVITO SZN arrives, and not because of injury...

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was not at all what we expected... in all of the best ways possible.

The Syracuse Orange forced a punt on the Western Michigan Broncos’ first drive, then quickly scored the game’s first touchdown, earning a 7-0 lead. They wouldn’t give it up for the rest of the half either, increasing it the advantage to 34-7 when the second quarter expired.

Eric Dungey was plenty dynamic, but mostly on the ground. He had 10 carries for 164 yards, and also threw for 104 yards and a touchdown (to Jamal Custis). Dungey led the Orange in rushing yards, but he was just part of the story for SU’s resurgent ground game. The team had 229 rushing yards in total. Dontae Strickland chipped in 37 yards and a score, Moe Neal had 24 yards and two touchdowns, too.

You can chalk some of that up to better running and Dungey’s success. But really, the offensive line deserves some credit for opening huge holes and looking a hell of a lot better than last year. They’re also giving Dungey time to throw — though that has been an iffy proposition for Syracuse when not targeting Custis today.

The fifth-year senior has three grabs for 96 yards and a TD. Ravian Pierce had one catch, and Moe Neal had one too. Devin Butler, thought to be the No. 1 receiver coming into the season, has a couple drops. Sean Riley was also targeted. Dungey was just 4-of-11 in the first half.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

That’s not to put all of the emphasis on the offense, though, when the defense really showed up to force WMU’s disastrous special teams into action. Andre Cisco had a pick to flip the field early while SU was up 7-0. Scoop Bradshaw and Chris Fredrick both covered well, too. And Antwan Cordy and Kielan Whitner made big plays all over the field. Broncos QB Jon Wassink was just 6-for-16 for 52 yards. Jamauri Bogan led WMU with 64 yards on the ground (59 of those coming on one carry, though).

All of this buries the lede, however: DEVITO SZN began before the end of the first half. Tommy DeVito took his first snaps for Syracuse, going 1-for-3 for seven yards, and also running for a first down. He had a long connection to Custis also erased by a holding call. DeVito was sacked once and saw some pressure, though managed to deliver crisp passes and should be the Orange QB coming out at the half.

Syracuse receives the kick when we return. Personally, would’ve thought the Orange left Dungey in late in the first to try and add another score and put the game away. But we’ll put our faith in DeVito as it appears Dungey’s day is over (and without an injury factoring in there).

Enjoy the second half here. We’ll have the quick recap up at the end of the game.