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Second half thread: Syracuse 45, Wagner 7

The Orange sort of sleep walk through a half that ended up being pretty dominant.

NCAA Football: Wagner at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Saturday’s game against the Wagner Seahawks, we expected the Syracuse Orange to have a pretty easy time. Through two quarters, that’s held true as SU leads, 45-7.

Eric Dungey played the entire first half, putting on an impressive and accurate performance: 20-of-29, 195 yards and four touchdowns (plus an early end zone interception). He also picked up 36 yards on 10 carries. Not at all the numbers we saw against Western Michigan last week, but putting in that sort of effort — especially with Florida State coming up next week — is also unnecessary.

Syracuse was quick to jump on a 14-0 lead, with a tipped-ball touchdown catch by Sean Riley (see image above) and a backdoor handoff to Dontae Strickland leading to the second TD. Andre Cisco interceptions set up both of the Orange’s early possessions. The freshman now has three on the season.

But the Seahawks would get into the end zone in the first quarter, leading to some early concerns about the secondary once more. A four-play, 75-yard play featured two long passes and led to a score. But SU started bring the blitz and shut down the Wagner offense from there on out.

NCAA Football: Wagner at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Not including the kneel at halftime, the Seahawks’ final six drives resulted in punts or blocked punts, as was the case on two separate occasions (a Ravian Pierce block, and a Riley block-turned-Trill Williams touchdown).

After rushing for over 300 yards last week, Syracuse has just 69 (not so “nice”) today, with Dungey leading the way. Moe Neal has five carries for 28 yards. Strickland has five for five yards, plus the aforementioned score.

While the struggled to find many receivers in the opener, things have been vastly different this afternoon. Riley’s caught five passes for 48 yards and a score. Nykeim Johnson has two catches, including a late, 28-yard touchdown connection from Dungey. Jamal Custis has four receptions for 37 yards, and Devin Butler has three for 24. Taj Harris caught his first pass for SU in the form of a 24-yard TD grab. Pierce also had a three-yard pop-pass TD.

On Butler, there’s been a lot of attention paid to his struggles with drops last year, and how those carried over into this season. A failure to haul in catches defined his game against WMU, and that came into play again here today as Wagner defensive backs have blanketed him fairly well. Harris replaced him for a bit in the second quarter, and immediately scored that touchdown.

The bigger concern is probably offensive line play, though. Wagner’s generated quite a bit of pressure so far and Dungey hasn’t had a ton of time to throw. Not a great sign for what’s supposed to be one of the team’s strengths this season...

Tommy DeVito time likely starts at the top of the second half. Let’s see if we keep the same momentum going from a strong second quarter.

Leave your comments below, and G’ORANGE.