|Posted on September 1, 2017 at 10:25 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
Syracuse did not waste a minute more for Orange football fans who had been anxiously anticipating Dino Babers' second season.
No, seriously, it took Syracuse less than three minutes into the 2017 campaign to score.
The scoring drive was aided by junior quarter Eric Dungey's 34-yard hookup with senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael who grabbed the ball by the sideline for his first catch of the 2017 season.
Syracuse would attain first downs from catches and runs to follow, including the first rushing first down of the season off the power of junior running back Dontae Strickland.
Strickland's run was followed by an 11-yard keeper to the outside and in for Dungey, who took the first end zone trip for the Orange this season, giving Syracuse the early 7-0 lead on the visiting Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in the Carrier Dome.
Keeping with time, the Orange would continue to take advantage of it, scoring on their second and third drives of the game as well, with Strickland carrying the ball up the middle from six yards out for his first touchdown of the season (14-0 Syracuse at the 9:38 mark of the first quarter), set up by redshirt-junior wide receiver Jamal Custis' one-handed grab by the sideline and then senior wide receiver Erv Philips catching the team's and his first receiving touchdown of the season. Philips caught the ball and then preceded to drag his defender into glory territory from 14 yards out (21-0 at 2:40 mark of the first quarter). This reception and run by Philips followed three straight first downs by fellow senior receiver Ishmael off of catches of his own.
Syracuse would conclude the first quarter ahead 21-0, scoring on all three of their drives while forcing Central Connecticut State to punt on all three of theirs.
Dungey, who began 12-for-12, ended the first quarter 13-of-15 for 167 yards.
In the second quarter, Dungey would take off for quarterback keepers on multiple occasions, including a run-happy seventh drive of the game where Dungey would somersault in the air after getting hit while running.
On that same drive, Dungey would send a dart to a cutting Ishmael who caught and dropped the ball as he crossed the threshold into the end zone.
Syracuse would attempt their first field goal of the season on this drive, with senior kicker Cole Murphy connecting from 29 yards away to elevate the Orange advantage to 24-0 with 7:27 before halftime.
The Orange remained fresh later on in the second quarter, with sophomore running Moe Neal outstretching his arms to reel in a catch from Dungey and then went outside and inside, utilizing his blockers en route to a 52-yard touchdown, his first of the 2017 campaign, which elevated the Orange to a 31-0 lead with 4:54 before the break.
Syracuse scored on five of their eight drives in the first half.
Conversely, Central Connecticut State punted on all seven of their possessions in the first half of play.
At the break, Dungey had completed 20 of his 27 attempts for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Syracuse ran the ball 19 times to their 27 pass attempts, while Central Connecticut State went to the air 13 times and to the ground 16 times, with junior quarterback Jacob Dolegala completing three of his 13 passes.
The only real blemish on the Orange in the first half was when free safety Antwan Cordy went down, grabbed his right shin, and needed help off the field, not returning in the half.
Less than four minutes into the second half, the Blue Devils did something they did not do in the first 30 minutes of the game: Score.
Junior wide receiver Jose Garcia had spacing from his defender in the left side of the end zone, and Dolegala sent the ball from 24 yards away, with Garcia reeling it in to put Central Connecticut State on the board with 11:15 left in the third quarter, making it 31-7 Syracuse.
The Orange responded by moving down the field on their first drive of the second half for yet another score, set up by back-to-back first down receptions by Philips.
In his first game with Syracuse, transfer junior tight end Ravian Pierce who grab and hold on to a five-yard pass to the middle of the end zone from Dungey after Dungey adequately faked the run. After the Murphy missed extra-point attempt, Syracuse went ahead 37-7 with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter.
Dungey split Syracuse's drive late in the third quarter with three completed passes in four attempts to go with four rushes, three by him and one by Neal. The final of the four carries was a handoff fake to Neal, which was sold well to the Blue Devils' defense, and carried into the end zone untouched by Dungey for his fifth touchdown of the game. Dungey accumulated three touchdowns through the air and two with his feet, ending his night with 3:42 left in the third quarter, amounting 328 yards passing, completing 28 of his 36 pass attempts, and rushing for 51 yards on nine carries.
This 300-yard passing game marks the seventh time Dungey has achieved at least 300 yards passing in a single game while a member of the Orange.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback Rex Culpepper came in to relieve Dungey, starting his first-ever collegiate drive at the 1:27 mark of the third quarter.
Culpepper completed his inaugural first-down play when he connected with redshirt-senior wide receiver Sean Avant on a four-yard pass. He went 3-for-5 on his first-ever drive as a Syracuse quarterback, with all three completions going to Avant.
Junior running back Tyrone Perkins joined Culpepper and Avant in relief of the Syracuse starters, carrying the ball three times for seven yards on the drive that began at the end of the third quarter and concluded in the early moments of the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse's backup kicker and starting punter, attempted a 51-yard field goal at the end of Culpepper's first-ever drive and went wide left.
On his second-ever drive in college, Culpepper sent a dart downfield to sophomore wide receiver Devin C. Butler for a 42-yard pass play where Butler grabbed the ball and held on with a defender attempting to disrupt the catch. The drive ended with Hofrichter connected on his first field goal of the season, from 27 yards away, to put the Orange ahead by 40, 47-7, with 9:58 to play.
Murphy came back into the game with 59 seconds remaining to make his second field goal of the game, this one from 39 yards away, raising the Orange to a 50-7 lead, which they would take to the end. Syracuse scored in every single quarter in the game, en route to their 43-point victory.
Even with their reserves in, Syracuse did not punt a single time in the second half versus Central Connecticut, leaving them with three punts over four quarters. But the reserves did make two turnovers, the first on a fumble with approximately eight minutes remaining and following on the next drive with another fumble with 5:46 to play. But Orange sophomore defensive lineman Kenneth Ruff recovered a fumble immediately after Syracuse's second turnover to get possession right back.
The Blue Devils punted 12 times on 13 possessions, with only one scoring drive in the game.
Syracuse moves to 1-0 on their season, with their upcoming game versus former head coach and now Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders' defensive coordinator Scott Shafer set to start at 3:30pm ET on Saturday, September 9th, inside the Carrier Dome.