The Syracuse Orange started strong against the Wagner Seahawks, and mostly kept it going for the rest of the game. SU was up 45-7 at halftime and then coasted to the 62-10 victory.
Syracuse starts the season 2-0 for the first time since 2015.
While it may not have been filled with the same number of electrifying plays we saw against Western Michigan, Eric Dungey’s game was still stellar from a numbers standpoint. Playing into the third quarter, he was 23-of-32 for 218 yards and a record-tying five touchdown passes (to five different receivers, no less). Dungey’s now one of just three Orange quarterbacks to throw five TDs in one game, joining Ryan Nassib and Zack Mahoney.
After picking up over 300 yards on the ground against WMU last week, the rushing attack wasn’t nearly as effective this week behind some shaky offensive line play (a theme all game) and more pass-focused play-calling early. Moe Neal led Syracuse with 71 yards on nine carries, while Dungey ran 11 times for 44 yards. Dontae Strickland had nine rushes for 35 yards and two touchdowns. Jarveon Howard also picked up 69 yards in garbage time and looked like a tank.
As mentioned, Dungey did spread the ball around to a long list of receivers. Nykeim Johnson, Sean Riley, Jamal Custis, Taj Harris and Ravian Pierce all caught touchdowns. Riley (six) and Custis (five) were the receptions leaders. Nykeim Johnson had the most receiving yards, at 65.
Obviously point total indicates the offense played well, and it certainly did. Defense and special teams also played big parts, however. Andre Cisco had two interceptions in the first quarter to set up SU’s first two drives. Pierce and Riley also blocked punts in the second quarter, with the latter instance being recovered by Trill Williams for a quick score. Andre Szmyt also had two field goals, including a 50-yarder in the fourth.
After going up 14-0 on a Strickland rushing score, Syracuse gave up a four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to Wagner that set off some of the same red flags from last weekend. But afterward, the defense adjusted, brought the blitz consistently and had the Seahawks’ quarterbacks on the run. Wagner wouldn’t score again until a fourth quarter field goal.
We’ll talk a bit more about the offensive line play in the later recaps. But for now, we’ll just say it’s a real concern that a team like Wagner is able to generate that much pressure. Dungey handled it well. Though the trend continued with the second-team line in front of Tommy DeVito (who was 1-of-5 for 23 yards but also under siege immediately after ever snap).
Overall, nice win for the Orange, who open the season with two 50-point scoring performances for the first time since 1929. Now we see if they can keep up the pace in next week’s tough matchup with Florida State (unlikely, but we can’t completely disregard a shootout with this team).
More coverage to come this afternoon.