Eric Dungey was alone in a collapsing pocket. For a moment, it looked as if a Wake Forest player would sack the freshman quarterback inside Syracuse's own five-yard line. But Dungey avoided the rush, stepped up and found Brisly Estime on a post route 30 yards downfield. Estime then broke free and took it the rest of the way for the touchdown, putting Syracuse ahead with two minutes left in the third quarter.
A crowd that was previously silent erupted into a raucous cheer, and Dungey pumped his fist as he ran down the field.
“I just try to keep my eyes downfield when I’m scrambling. I’ve always been taught that…Brisly did a great job. He made a great play, so all credit goes to him.”
The touchdown marked the turning point in both Dungey's and Syracuse's day. After a shoddy first half in his first collegiate start, Dungey calmed down late in the third quarter. He finished 8-of-13 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Orange (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a 30-17 win over Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1) at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon.
On the game's first drive, Syracuse faced a third-down at Wake Forest's 32-yard line. The Demon Deacons sent a blitz and Dungey appeared to panic before taking the sack, putting SU out of field goal range.
Later in the quarter, Syracuse faced another third-down, this time at Wake's 18-yard line. Dungey looked for Steve Ishmael near the goal line, but Dungey's throw was behind Ishmael and low, forcing SU into a field goal attempt, which Cole Murphy converted. Then, with a little over nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, Dungey overthrew his intended receiver and the ball landed near several of Wake Forest's players, leaving Dungey fortunate that it wasn't intercepted.
"He was more mad at himself than I was at him to be quite honest with you," Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said of Dungey. "I could see it in his eyes, so I just said keep being the guy we recruited."
And in the second half, Dungey came out a different quarterback. He threw the touchdown pass to Brisly Estime on Syracuse's second possession. A possession later, he tossed a perfect strike to Steve Ishmael down the right sideline for a 53-yard score, putting Syracuse ahead by two scores.
As Dungey walked off the field and to the bench, Shafer was the first to congratulate him. Dungey had suddenly flipped the script, turning a subpar performance into an impressive stat line.
"I always just try to keep a level head, but the guys did a great job of keeping me up."
Before Dungey's second half heroics, it was defensive end Donnie Simmons who accounted for Syracuse's only touchdown. After Zaire Franklin blitzed Demon Deacons quarterback John Wolford and hit him as he threw, Simmons grabbed the ball out of the air and took it 41 yards for the score in the second quarter. It was one of two turnovers created by the defense, the other being an interception by Parris Bennett. Meanwhile, Luke Arciniega and Ron Thompson totaled three sacks.
Offensively, George Morris ran the ball six times for 46 yards -- the most of any Syracuse running back. Dungey rushed for 58 yards on 12 carries. Meanwhile, Estime had two receptions and led Syracuse with 98 receiving yards, the bulk of which came on his touchdown.
Syracuse will next take the field in a week, on Sept. 19, when Central Michigan visits the Carrier Dome. The game will be broadcast live on 88.3 FM WAER at 12:30 p.m., preceded by Countdown to Kickoff.