|Posted on September 16, 2017 at 7:15 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
A game ago, the Syracuse Orange football team never held the momentum once in 60 minutes over four quarters at home versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.
That bad taste was still on the mouths of the Orange when they opened the doors to the Central Michigan Chippewas, as the Orange rolled into the Carrier Dome at 1-1 on the season.
Syracuse wasted no time scoring, going for a 30-yard touchdown on the ground on their opening drive of the game.
Well, they did... but they didn't.
Orange junior running back Dontae Strickland's 30-yard touchdown run was called back due to a holding penalty.
Syracuse did end the drive with points, however, when senior placekicker Cole Murphy booted the ball through the uprights from 41 yards away to give the Orange the first lead of the game, 3-0.
The Orange defense would force the Chippewas to punt on both of their first two offensive drives of the game and sophomore punt returner Sean Riley fielded the ball to put Syracuse in better positioning offensively.
Thus, all three phases of the game appeared to be going in favor of the Orange early on.
Then, the blunders began to roll in for the Orange, with Syracuse true freshman running back Markenzy Pierre fumbling the ball after Syracuse was granted good field positioning at their own 48-yard line by Riley. Central Michigan would capitalize on Syracuse's fumble when Central Michigan senior quarterback Shane Morris threw down the left sideline to sophomore wide receiver Cameron Cole who gained a new set of downs on third down and then went even further when two Syracuse defenders were lost in communication and negated one another, resulting in a 56-yard touchdown reception play by Cole. That play gave the Chippewas their first lead of the game, 7-3.
On Syracuse's very next possession, the ball ricocheted off a potential Syracuse receiver after a pass attempt by junior quarterback Eric Dungey and was intercepted by junior linebacker Alex Briones who put his hand out to catch the ball while low to the ground.
Central Michigan would capitalize on this Syracuse turnover as well, when senior placekicker Michael Armstrong connected on a 30-yarder with 2:33 left in the first quarter, to extend Central Michigan's lead to seven, 10-3.
The Orange would fail to get movement on their offense on the following drive, punting the ball back to the Chippewas with 1:23 left on the first-quarter clock.
But on Central Michigan's first play of that drive, Morris would be intercepted by Syracuse sophomore safety Evan Foster at Central Michigan's 24-yard line and dart all the way forward and into the endzone for a pick six, evening the score at 10 apiece after Murphy connected on his first extra-point attempt of the game.
Both teams would go relatively quiet to open the second quarter before the Chippewas chipped away at the clock, gaining five first downs on their second drive of the second quarter. What would have been the sixth first down allowed by the Orange on this drive alone ended up being a 17-yard touchdown catch and run for the Chippewas' leading rusher coming into this game, sophomore Jonathan Ward, giving the lead back to the Chippewas 17-10 with 7:52 remaining before the break.
Riley ran like he took that personal, taking his kick return attempt 64 yards to the Central Michigan 32-yard line.
On 4th-&-1, Dungey would keep this drive going, calling his own number for the quarterback keeper.
Dungey would then look straight and turn to his left where Strickland was wide open and waiting. Strickland received the ball, faced the Chippewas' defense, made a move, & ran into the endzone for an 18-yard touchdown catch-and-run, getting on the board with a score after his first-quarter run was taken away. Murphy would kick the ball right at the right goal-post and rattle the entire goal-post, as the ball fell in between the uprights to tie the game again, this time at 17-17, with 5:20 to play before half.
After allowing Central Michigan back into their territory for the second straight drive, Syracuse took all of Central Michigan's gains away when redshirt-sophomore cornerback Christopher Fredrick intercepted Morris' pass attempt on the Syracuse 24 and went 23 yards to the Syracuse 47 to set up the offense by midfield.
On the first play of this drive, Dungey rolled out right and continued to look downfield, never giving up on the play, tossing it downfield to Riley who had gotten in front of single coverage and received the ball for a 44-yard gain to the Chippewas' nine-yard line.
Strickland attained his second touchdown of the game and in as many drives on the very next play, rushing forward for the remaining nine yards to give the lead back to the Orange, at 24-17 with 2:09 before the break, which they would take into halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, which was in the hands of Central Michigan, Syracuse redshirt-senior free safety Jordan Martin was flagged for targeting, but, after review, the targeting call was overturned, keeping Martin eligible for the game.
Syracuse's defense to end Central Michigan's first drive of the second half, and the offense of the Orange would get rolling real quick. Sophomore running back Moe Neal broke through the middle into the open field for a 71-yard gain just a play after Dungey eluded a potential safety. Shortly after, senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael would reel in a 17-yard reception play to put the Orange on the Chippewas' one-yard line. Dungey called hike before you even knew the ball was picked up, and crossed the goal line on a quarterback keeper to elevate the Orange to their largest lead of the game, 31-17, less than three minutes into the third quarter.
On the second drive of the third quarter for the Orange, Ishmael received the ball, appeared to be going down but stayed up, gaining 29 yards. But on the way to the ground, Ishmael lost the handle, fumbling into the open field. Chippewas' sophomore cornerback Sean Bunting forced the fumble and teammate, junior defensive tackle Nate Brisson-Fast, recovered the ball in the endzone, taking the Orange from a potential touchdown to instead, a loss of downs.
The Orange defense responded by forcing the Chippewas to punt and then it took the offense a mere two plays to reach the endzone for their fourth time, when junior tight end Ravian Pierce caught a pass over the middle and over his defender for a six-yard score that followed Dungey's 74-yard run, the longest of his 2+ year career at Syracuse.
Syracuse would begin their next drive of the third quarter at their own 28-yard line. On the first play of this drive, Riley would come around to take the handoff from Dungey and then sprint ahead 41 yards to the Central Michigan 31-yard line.
Immediately after, Ishmael would grab the reception and hold onto this one, with three Chippewa players having to work together to take him to the ground, for a 22-yard gain.
The drive would conclude on Murphy's 25-yard field goal make that rose the Orange to a 41-17 advantage late in the third quarter.
It seemed as if Central Michigan would break their second-half drought when sophomore running back Romello Ross carried the ball from five yards out. But, after officials ruled the play a touchdown they went back and reviewed it, seeing that Ross lost control and fumbled the ball before crossing the threshold of the endzone, turning a Chippewa score into an Orange touchback.
With just shy of 6:40 to play, backup quarterback Zack Mahoney came into the game to relieve Dungey.
Dungey came into this game with three passing touchdowns to one interception, to go with three rushing touchdowns. He had 508 passing yards and 104 rushing yards through two games. Dungey ended this match-up with 279 passing yards, 25 yards higher than his average of 254 passing yards over the first two games. He threw two touchdowns to one interception and gained another rushing touchdown on the season, carrying the ball for more yards (105) than he did in the first two games combined (104).
Riley finished this contest with four receptions for 82 yards, four carries for 47 yards, two kick returns for 98 yards, and three punt returns for 20 yards to give him 247 all-purpose yards against Central Michigan over four quarters.
The Orange defense forced 10 punts in the game, intercepted Morris twice, including one for a touchdown, and prevented a single point in the second half.
Syracuse gets back to a winning record at 2-1, all games being played at home.
They hit the road for a 7pm or 7:30pm ET match-up with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, September 23rd.