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Syracuse defeats Wagner behind cohesive, all-around effort

The Orange went up early and never looked back.

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange easily cruised to a 62-10 victory over the Wagner Seahawks on Saturday, and it wasn’t even that close. From the jump, SU’s athleticism, talent, and skill were visibly superior to Wagner — as well they should be given the talent difference on the two rosters.

The first four drives depicted that difference in full.

On the first drive, Wagner quarterback Luke Massei and the Seahawks offense couldn’t even move the ball five yards before they turned it over to freshman Andre Cisco and the defense. On the first third down of the game, Cisco jumped in front of a crossing route at the perfect time, giving SU the ball on the Wagner 25-yard line.

“I wasn’t sure if he was gonna let it go or not, but he let it go and I was just there to make the play,” Cisco said after the game.

It took the Orange seven plays, but senior quarterback Eric Dungey eventually found junior wide receiver Sean Riley in the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. The pass was initially indented for senior wide receiver Jamal Custis, but it deflected off the hands of Custis and into the diving grasp of Riley. Riley ended the day with six receptions for 54 yards.

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

Riley and sophomore Nykeim Johnson led the team in receiving. Johnson recorded three receptions for 65 yards and a score; his first career touchdown in Orange. If Riley and Johnson can continue performances like that in the future, they’ll provide the offense with a quick and speedy threat down the field.

“(Riley’s) not the tallest guy but I think he makes up for that with his heart and how hard he plays,” Dungey said. “He plays like he’s six foot four.”

On the very next drive, Wagner faced another third down. Junior Kendall Coleman easily sprinted into the backfield unblocked and pressured the Wagner quarterback into an errant throw. Cisco capitalized on the opportunity and gave the Orange the ball back again in enemy territory.

Four plays later, Syracuse had itself a 14-point lead courtesy of senior running back Dontae Strickland. Dungey had initially attempted to push the ball up the middle. Realizing that wasn’t an option, he pitched the ball out to Strickland who easily strolled outside for a one-yard touchdown rush.

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

Strickland also scored one more time on the day, in the third quarter. He took nine carries for 35 yards and two scores.

For Strickland, he saw fewer carries this week than last, but SU ran the ball 19 fewer times so he saw a larger share of the work load. Junior running back Moe Neal also had nine carries, so Baber’s comments on Wednesday about the two sharing rushes rang true.

Outside of the next possession where Wagner easily drove down the field to score, the Seahawks just couldn’t keep up with SU.

Everything Syracuse did an offense worked and Wagner couldn’t do anything to avoid tripping over their own feet en route to four turnovers.

Overall, Syracuse was just exceptional all-around today. It’s difficult to look at one position group and say they underperformed. When you win by 52 points, that’s just what happens.

“This is probably our most complete game that we played here from an offense, defense, and special teams point of view,” Babers said. “It was high tide and we were rocking and rolling out there.”