Many familiar faces returned home to the Dome this Saturday afternoon as Syracuse Football celebrated Legends Weekend with more than 29,000 fans. The undefeated 1987 team (11-0-1) was honored on center field for a reunion 30 years in the making. Leader and coach of that historic team, the late Coach Dick MacPherson, who passed away last month, was also honored at the event.
Scott Shafer was another familiar face that returned to Syracuse this weekend, bringing Middle State Tennessee (1-1-0) up North to face Syracuse (1-1-0). He was met by a standing ovation from Syracuse fans as he made his way up to the MTSU coaching box prior to the start of the game. Shafer is in his first year as the defensive coach for the Blue Raiders under Rick Stockstill’s coaching staff.
As the man who recruited the now junior Eric Dungey, Shafer looked to disrupt the quarterback's momentum from the previous week against Central Connecticut State where he had 379 yards and five touchdowns in just three quarters.
It was no surprise it was a low scoring game in the first quarter as Syracuse walked off the field leading 3-2 going into the second quarter. Shafer’s blitz defense gave the Orange a tough time, forcing them to punt on all 3 drives at the start of the game.
Less than 20 seconds into the second quarter, MTSU's wide receiver Ty Lee runs 14 yards for a touchdown giving the lead back to the Blue Raiders. The Orange’s wide receiver Dontae Strickland would take the lead back rushing 1-yard to the end zone. Syracuse ended the first half up 13-9 with a field goal late in the quarter but both sides seemed to be struggling to find their offensive momentum.
Coming into the third quarter, Syracuse extended their lead with a 40-yard field goal but weren’t left with much time to celebrate as Blue Raider quarterback Brent Stockstill threw a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Richie James for a touchdown to tie it up 16-16.
After getting hit on back-to-back plays in the third quarter, Dungey received another hard blow from defensive end Walter Brady who was called for targeting and ejected after the call was reviewed. Senior Zach Mahoney came in for Dungey who recovered on the sideline for a few minutes before heading back in the game with three minutes left in the third.
Just seven seconds into the fourth quarter Stockstill was able to connect with Ty Lee again for his second touchdown of the day, giving the lead back to MTSU.
Proving he was ready to take the field again after going down hard multiple times in the third quarter, Dungey ran 29-yards for a touchdown which tied the game once again at 23-23.
With just under 7 minutes left in the game Stockstill connected with running back Shane Tucker to pull the Blue Raiders ahead 23-30. Dungey hit wide receiver Steve Ishmael late in the game but was called short. With no more time left on the clock for the Orange, the Blue Raiders ended the game 23-30.
While both teams struggled offensively, MTSU was able to connect the ball to the end zone more and picked up their first win of the season led by Brent Stockstill’s 269 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.
You can see the Orange go at it again next week as they look for another win in the Dome when they host Central Connecticut on September 16. Kickoff for that game is set for 3:30 PM.