The Syracuse Orange moved to 4-0 for the first time since 1991 after beating the Connecticut Huskies (1-3, 0-1 in AAC), 51-21 at the Carrier Dome today.
It was far from simple, and there were plenty of weird moments for both sides of the ball. But an lethally effective and efficient day from Eric Dungey led the way to the dominating win. The senior quarterback was 21-of-27 for 286 yards and two scores, plus another 84 yards and three touchdowns on the ground — all of which should remove any lingering concerns about his health from the last few weeks.
Syracuse was up 21-0 quickly in the first quarter, before UConn’s David Pindell answered with a 75-yard touchdown run. SU tacked on an Andre Szmyt field goal to close the first quarter up 17, then traded touchdowns with the Huskies to go into halftime up 31-14.
Sean Riley got the scoring started in the second half with a nice 69-yard punt return touchdown early on in the third quarter, and SU largely coasted from there. Despite what should’ve probably been another Dungey rushing score being erased by some questionable officiating, Szmyt knocked in another field goal to pretty much bury UConn at 41-17 late in the third.
UConn pulled within 20 points early in the fourth quarter, but a 49-yard run after the catch by Riley once again put Syracuse up 27 yet again, at 48-21. Szmyt added a garbage time field goal to make it 51-21 (matching the pre-game line from some sportsbooks).
The Orange offense was firing on all cylinders all game, piling up a 341 yards on the ground and another 295 through the air. Riley led the team in receiving with six grabs for 120 yards and the aforementioned TD. Nykeim Johnson added seven catches for 78 yards, and seven other SU players caught at least one pass.
Moe Neal led the team in rushing as he assumed his newfound role as feature back. He had a career-high 116 yards on 13 carries in the game; his first 100-yard rushing effort at Syracuse. Dungey (84), Dontae Strickland (62) and Jarveon Howard (61) also topped the 50-yard mark on the ground.
While the secondary struggled a bit in this one, the defensive line made their presence known throughout the contest. Syracuse had six sacks on the game (most since 2009 vs. Rutgers), and Alton Robinson had three on his own. They also had nine TFLs on the day. Andre Cisco also added his nation-leading fourth interception of the season, albeit in garbage time (still counts!)
The Orange will march down to (the other) Death Valley next Saturday with an identical 4-0 record to the Clemson Tigers. As you recall, Syracuse upset Clemson 27-24 last season. They’ll attempt to recapture that magic once again, and keep this hot start alive.
More recap coverage to come today.