|Posted on October 20, 2018 at 4:35 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The North Carolina Tar Heels came into the Dome as the last in-conference opponent inside the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) that the Syracuse Orange had yet to face.
Syracuse and North Carolina entered the match-up having each lost their last two in a row.
North Carolina junior quarterback Nathan Elliott went 6-for-7 on the opening drive of the game, and rushed for the yard needed on a 4th-&-1 attempt, aiding the visiting Tar Heels to a score on their first chance. The touchdown was a six-yard pass play from Elliott to sophomore wide receiver Dazz Newsome, giving North Carolina a 7-0 lead with 10:07 remaining in the first quarter.
The Orange, on the other hand, did not start out as hot, with redshirt-freshman kicker Andre Szmyt missing from 44 yards away after the Orange failed to push the ball forward.
After punting their second drive away, Syracuse began their third drive of the game with a run up the middle by junior running back Moe Neal. Neal had nothing but a wide open lane and one person to stop him, the official. The official looked forward, staring right at Neal, with his feet planted in the ground. Neal ran into him, knocked him down, and was able to gain a total of 24 yards on the play, but it could have been more as the middle of the field had a lane.
The Orange would run three rush attempts in a row later on in the drive and ultimately settle for a field goal, with redshirt-freshman kicker Andre Szmyt booting it through from 25 yards away to make it 7-3 Tar Heels with 10:58 remaining before the half.
North Carolina would go for it on fourth down on their next drive, and for the third time in the first half, but Elliott would fail to get the yard needed on the quarterback keeper. This was the first and only fourth-down attempt that the Tar Heels did not convert in the first half, going 2-for-3 on fourth down in the first half.
Syracuse would force a punt with 3:21 before the break, and senior punter Hunter Lent would shank it. The ball would travel only 10 yards before going out-of-bounds, placing the Orange on the Tar Heels' 32-yard line to start the drive.
Dungey would go 2-for-2, the first pass to true freshman wide receiver Taj Harris and the second to redshirt-senior wide receiver Jamal Custis, and senior running back Dontae Strickland would carry the ball twice for five yards on both occasions. The catch by Custis was ruled a touchdown but was reviewed and reversed, putting Syracuse on the 1-yard line, just outside of the North Carolina end zone.
Sophomore fullback/tight end Chris Elmore would rush straight ahead for the yard remaining to give the Orange their first touchdown of the game, and first lead, 10-7, with 1:56 to go in the first half.
The Orange would force the Tar Heels to punt for the second time in a row and they would receive the ball back just 21 seconds after their last score, with 1:35 before half.
Dungey would go 4-for-5, moving Syracuse all the way to the North Carolina 28-yard line, before an attempt to Custis in double-coverage would fall incomplete in the end zone.
Szmyt came back onto the field for his third field-goal attempt of the game, and for the second time in a row he connected, this time from 46 yards away, to give the Orange a 13-7 lead as time expired on the first half of play in the Dome.
North Carolina quarterback Nathan Elliott went 20-for-25 for 160 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions in the first half.
Dungey was 10-for-19 for 119 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions at the break.
On the very first play of the second half, Dungey dropped back and aired out to Custis down the right sideline. North Carolina sophomore cornerback Greg Ross nudged Custis forward, accidentally helping Custis get farther upfield and ultimately aiding him to the ball. The play ended with a Custis catch and a 68-yard gain from the Orange 6-yard line to the 26-yard line of the Tar Heels.
After a holding penalty on North Carolina moved Syracuse ahead 10 yards to the 16-yard line of their foe, Dungey would throw behind Neal, and North Carolina almost came away with an interception.
On the very next play, Dungey looked to run, seemingly in trouble in the backfield, but got away for a 16-yard rush into the end zone to elevate the Orange out to a 20-7 advantage less than a minute into the third quarter, with 14:06 remaining in the quarter.
Taj Harris saved the second drive of the second half for the Orange when he made a play on the ball and it went into the air. He stayed with the ball, and his hand-eye coordination gave Syracuse a first down, but, ultimately, the drive did end in a punt.
The Tar Heels would try a trick play later on in the third quarter, where Elliott passed out to sophomore wide receiver Beau Corrales. Corrales looked to throw, was hit, and threw anyway. Junior strong safety Evan Foster intercepted the pass, giving the Orange at least one interception in all seven of their games this season.
But Syracuse's offense continued to sputter out to nothing after scoring so quickly to start the second half. Redshirt-junior punter Sterling Hofrichter punted away to Newsome who ran the ball back 75 yards for a special teams' touchdown, giving the lead back to North Carolina, this time at 21-20.
The Orange had no response, punting the ball away for the fourth time in a row in the third quarter.
Syracuse went from a 20-7 advantage to being behind 21-20 still within the third quarter.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Orange punted the ball away for the fifth time in a row.
But the Syracuse defense gave the offense an opportunity once again, when true freshman free safety Andre Cisco forced sophomore running back Michael Carter to fumble and senior middle linebacker Ryan Guthrie recovered the ball.
Hold on, though...
The Orange fumbled the ball back to the Tar Heels from inside the Tar Heels' redzone, when Neal held the ball above him on the way down during his rush attempt. Senior strong safety J.K. Britt forced the fumble and junior cornerback Patrice Rene recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Syracuse, who allowed the Clemson Tigers 293 yards and three rushing touchdowns and then gave up 265 yards and three touchdowns to the Pittsburgh Panthers in the following game, let junior running back Antonio Williams gain 56 yards on one carry that brought North Carolina all the way to the Syracuse 10-yard line.
On the next drive for the Orange, sophomore wide receiver Nykeim Johnson was sacked trying a trick play, losing six yards. Dungey would be sacked shortly after, losing five yards. Syracuse would punt it away for the sixth time in the second half.
Since scoring on the opening drive of the second half, the Orange offense ended their next drives as follows: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, and punt.
With the offense spiraling downward, head coach Dino Babers took Dungey out, replacing him with backup redshirt-freshman quarterback Tommy DeVito.
On DeVito's very first down in the game, he aired out downfield to Custis, catching Custis in stride with pristine timing, for a 50-yard gain, moving Syracuse from their own 28 to the North Carolina 22-yard line.
DeVito would end the drive 5-for-7, failing to get the score when Babers elected to go for it on 4th-&-9 at the Tar Heels' 10-yard line.
With just under 2:30 to play, the Orange were back on defense after the turnover on downs.
On 3rd-&-4, junior wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams came under center and attempted a pass to junior tight end Carl Tucker. Tucker had daylight, but he did not get his hands around it.
DeVito would come back out for his second drive of the game. After an incompletion, he went 2-for-2, the second attempt a missile downfield to sophomore wide receiver Nykeim Johnson for a 42-yard touchdown play that evened the score at 27 apiece with 1:39 to go.
North Carolina, on 4th-&-11, would not come up with the winning score, with Elliott overthrowing his receiver, leaving two seconds on the clock.
DeVito stepped back and sent it. North Carolina got their hands on the ball, but bobbled it and the Dome fell into overtime.
Syracuse got the first crack at offense in the extra period, and after his first try sailed out-of-bounds, DeVito's second attempt was caught by Custis in tight coverage by the right pylon for a 25-yard touchdown.
North Carolina took over possession down 34-27.
The Orange would allow Antonio Williams 18 yards on a single run and Elliott would find Corrales shortly after in the middle of the end zone to tie the contest once again, this time at 34 apiece.
In the second overtime, Syracuse's defense pressured Elliott on third down leading to 4th-&-6 for North Carolina. Freeman Jones sent a 48-yard attempt through the uprights to give the Tar Heels a 37-34 advantage.
Syracuse came out in a do-or-die situation and senior running back Dontae Strickland showed why they trusted the rock in his hands so late in the game, powering forward, enacting contact, and gaining 10 yards for a first down to the Tar Heels' 10-yard line.
After rushing for two yards on a keeper, DeVito found senior tight end Ravian Pierce in the middle of the end zone, where Pierce is consistently effective, and Pierce welcomed the ball for a four-yard touchdown play that stamped this game with an Orange seal.
Syracuse stops their skid and gets back to the win column with a 40-37 double-OT victory, moving up to 5-2 on the season.
This is the first time Syracuse has won more than four games in a season during the Babers' era, and the 5-2 start ends a streak of three consecutive seasons with four wins apiece.
DeVito finished the game 11-for-19 for 181 yards, with three passing touchdowns and one interception. Dungey concluded his time on the field without a single passing touchdown, and DeVito led Dungey in completion percentage on the day, 57.9% to 51.5%.