It’s easy for a young team to take a team without a conference win lightly, especially after a landmark win against a top 25 school. Some would call Saturday’s matchup against Boston College (3-4, 0-4 ACC) a trap game.
The Syracuse Orange (4-4, 2-2 ACC) put up over 500 yards of total offense, turned the ball over three times, and committed sixteen penalties on Saturday against the Eagles. Okay, that’s typical. Sounds like most weeks. The difference this week? The defense stepped up. The only trap today was the one that BC tried to throw into all day, the Syracuse secondary.
Things started off chippy between the teams in their 50th meeting. After an Eric Dungey pick, the QB took matters in to his own hands and slung the Boston College ball carrier out of bounds, prompting Boston College players to step over him and get in his face. The sophomore QB pushed away two Boston College players who were in his ear, sending them both tumbling into equipment on the Syracuse sideline, and after the bench clearing scuffle, Dungey looked re-focused.
The next drive, Eric Dungey came out, escaped the pocket and threw a long bomb to wide out Steve Ishmael (8 catches, 108 yards) on the sideline to spark the SU offense. Receiver Ervin Phillips (7 catches, 78 yards) capped off the drive with one of his two touchdowns on the day.
Dungey, who went 32-38 with 434 yards and added on 54 rushing yards, also threw touchdowns to Ishmael and ACC leading receiver Amba Etta-Tawo (10 catches, 144 yards). After the brawl started by the Dungey interception, he did not throw another interception all day.
The real surprise against Boston College was the Syracuse defense. While Syracuse did allow 223 rushing yards on 40 attempts, the secondary only allowed 64 passing yards the whole game, despite BC’s quarterback change in the fourth quarter. This was the first time since the opening game of the season against Colgate that the Orange defense allowed under 300 yards to the opposing offense.
Yes, the win was sloppy. Syracuse fumbled a snap, missed a field goal, and allowed another kick-off return for a touchdown. The Orange also fought hard and got the win, and Syracuse is now two wins away from going bowling for the first time since 2013, and for a team with a second year quarterback and a first year head coach, a team transitioning into a new system, a new era, trying to rebuild, you can’t be upset with that.
Fans and players alike can enjoy the win for now, but these mistakes won’t slide next week against #4 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC). Let’s see what kind of pregame speech coach Babers has in store to motivate his club in Death Valley.