Terrel Hunt's Leg Injury Overshadows Syracuse's 47-0 Season-Opening Win Over Rhode Island

Sep 5, 2015

Syracuse warms up at halftime of tonight's game against Rhode Island.
Credit Michael Burke/WAER Sports

Terrel Hunt lay on the Carrier Dome turf after a two-yard scramble midway through the first quarter and was being attended to by trainers. He grabbed his helmet with hands. The trainers then had to help him to the sideline as Hunt didn't put pressure on his right leg. 

Soon thereafter, Hunt left the field on crutches. Later, Syracuse Athletics dubbed his injury a "lower-body" one and after the game, head coach Scott Shafer said Hunt's right Achilles "popped." Hunt was replaced by true freshman quarterback Eric Dungey, who threw for 114 yards and two touchdowns to help lead Syracuse to a 47-0 victory over Rhode Island in Friday night's season opener.

As Dungey threw warm-up passes before taking the field, SU head coach Scott Shafer walked over to the freshman. Shafer said he winked at him and told Dungey to "go have a blast."

"He was just taking all the pressure off me," Dungey said. "Helping me out, keeping me calm, telling me he believes in me -- all the things I needed to hear."

Dungey's night turned out to be a mixed bag, as he coupled a few shaky passes with crisp ones. On his first full offensive drive, Dungey overthrew a screen pass to hybrid back Ervin Philips. But Philips managed to tip the ball to himself and sprint the rest of the way -- 32 yards -- for a score. 

Early in the second quarter, Dungey would completely overthrow Philips, who got behind the secondary and was just a handful of yards from the endzone, on a seam route up the middle of the field. But on the next drive, the quarterback made one of his better throws of the night when he found Philips in the lower right corner of the end zone on a play-action rollout. 

"I liked his reads," Shafer said of Dungey. "He was on the right reads ... He was just a little quick on a couple of them."

From there, the onslaught was on. Behind a dominant defensive performance -- Syracuse forced four turnovers and allowed only 46 yards of total offense -- and 103 yards rushing from Jordan Fredericks, SU cruised to an easy win. 

Shafer speaks at his postgame press conference.
Credit Jay Alter/WAER Sports

But afterward, much of the attention was directed toward Hunt, who missed most of last season with an injury to the same leg. Hunt was not made available to the media, but an emotional Shafer called the injury Hunt suffered tonight "horrible" and said it was a non-contact injury. 

"Just keep your thoughts and prayers out there for him and his family." 

Even Dungey, who probably wasn't going to play at all this season had Hunt stayed healthy, dodged a question about his performance and made a point to share his thoughts on Hunt, who Dungey called "his mentor."

"Hearing the news about him, I mean, it's hard."

Sophomore linebacker Zaire Franklin, one of the team's captains along with Hunt, sounded particularly torn-up. 

"It just crushed me. It was kind of hard for myself to even get back into it because of how close I am with him."

Assuming Hunt will be out for an extended period of time, it seems as if Shafer will stick with Dungey for the rest of the way. Sophomore quarterback A.J. Long, who stepped in for Hunt last season, wore a visor on the sideline tonight, and there's no indication that he'll play. 

Syracuse will learn more about Dungey next week, when the Orange will get its first ACC test of the season against Wake Forest. Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome and the game will be broadcast on WAER 88.3 FM.