|Posted on October 27, 2018 at 11:00 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
N.C. State's Wolfpack landed in Syracuse, New York, with an overall record of 5-1, with their only loss of the season coming a week ago on the road against the Clemson Tigers, 41-7.
Syracuse rolled out their 5-2 Orange who were fresh off of a double-overtime victory versus the North Carolina Tar Heels at home in the Dome.
After a three-and-out by N.C. State, Syracuse received the ball for the first time, and the question was answered when senior quarterback Eric Dungey came onto the field as the starter.
The Syracuse Orange began the game with an opening drive score... through the uprights, when redshirt-freshman kicker Andre Szmyt connected from 29 yards away to give the Orange the first lead of the match-up, 3-0, with 10:20 remaining in the first quarter.
N.C. State responded with their own score, a touchdown off of a bomb downfield to sophomore wide receiver Emeka Emezie, who had broken free. This scoring play was 67 yards from graduate quarterback Ryan Finley to Emezie to give the Wolfpack their first advantage of the game, at 7-3, with 9:44 left on the first quarter clock.
That advantage was short-lived, thanks to Dungey and sophomore wide receiver Nykeim Johnson. On just the second play and first pass of the drive, Dungey stood in the backfield and launched the ball toward Johnson who got out in front of his defender to catch and run in what would become an 82-yard scoring play just 36 seconds after the N.C. State touchdown, moving Syracuse back ahead 10-7 with 9:08 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Orange would score on their third-straight drive to open the game when true freshman running back Jarveon Howard rushed in from two yards out shortly after Dungey sent the ball down the sidelines to redshirt-senior wide receiver Jamal Custis for a 45-yard play. With 6:08 left in the first quarter, Syracuse was ahead 17-7.
Syracuse would punt on their fourth drive of the game, but would get back on the scoring side of things on their fifth drive, when Dungey found Custis for Custis' second big catch of the game and first score, on a 20-yard touchdown play that elevated the Orange out to a 24-7 advantage. This drive began with Dungey pitching the ball to senior running back Dontae Strickland, who then preceded to throw it to junior wide receiver Sean Riley for a 48-yard trick play that brought the Orange from their own 32-yard line to the Wolfpack's 20-yard line.
At the end of the opening quarter, Syracuse led 24-7, scoring on 80% of their drives (4-for-5).
It took N.C. State 13 minutes and 59 seconds until their next score, which came at the 10:45 mark of the second quarter off of a field goal make by true freshman kicker Christopher Dunn from 25 yards away to make it 24-10 Syracuse.
A special teams' blunder would overturn an Orange possession in the middle of the second quarter when Syracuse would be flagged for roughing the kicker after true freshman cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu had slapped the ball away from redshirt-sophomore wide receiver C.J. Riley to force a punt.
The ball would return to the Wolfpack with a new set of downs. Finley would drop back on first down, set himself, and send the ball deep, making it look like a cakewalk, finding junior wide receiver Kelvin Harmon for a 74-yard touchdown to bring the game within one score, 24-17, with 7:40 left in the first half.
With 3:13 remaining in the opening half, Dunn had his second field goal of the game for the Wolfpack, shrinking their deficit even more, down 24-20 to the Orange.
Being out-scored 13-0 in the second quarter with Dungey at quarterback, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers made the change, bringing in redshirt-quarterback Tommy DeVito.
After abandoning the run for the majority of the second quarter, the Orange tried junior running back Moe Neal, who went forward for seven yards on DeVito's first drive of the game. DeVito went 2-for-3 on the drive, but ended it with intentional grounding, and Syracuse punted it away.
Dungey returned after just one drive by DeVito and aided the Orange to within field-goal range, gaining 17 yards on a keeper right before Szmyt came in for a 45-yard attempt.
Szmyt's make prevented Syracuse from being shut out of the second quarter, heading into the break ahead 27-20 on N.C. State.
Dungey remained on the field to begin the second half for the Orange.
The Wolfpack would grab onto Nykeim Johnson on a play where he seemingly was not getting to the ball, giving the Orange 15 yards.
Syracuse's offensive line would save the drive when Dungey had the ball stripped away and they pounced on it.
After rushing just 13 times in the first half, the Orange ran eight times on their opening second-half drive alone, ending it in the end zone off of a quarterback keeper by Dungey, giving Syracuse a 34-20 lead with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter. Dungey had opened the second half a week ago against the North Carolina Tar Heels with a quarterback keeper touchdown as well.
Finley would go 4-for-4 on N.C. State's first drive of the second half, and graduate running back Brady Bodine ran it in from one yard out to bring the Wolfpack back within one score, 34-27, with 6:10 to go in the third quarter.
On Syracuse's second drive of the second half, Dungey got the Wolfpack to bite, drawing them to Strickland on a fake handoff. As Strickland was being taken down, Dungey released the ball to true freshman wide receiver Taj Harris, who charged forward into the end zone for a 31-yard score, giving the Orange a 41-27 lead with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, redshirt-sophomore tight end Cary Angeline grabbed 15 yards on a catch from Finley and was ruled down at the Orange 1-yard line. Senior running back Reggie Gallaspy would gain the lone yard needed, bringing the Wolfpack yet again within one score, 41-34, with 14:28 to play in the game.
Szmyt would attempt a 41-yarder on Syracuse's first possession of the fourth quarter, and it would grace the net in between the uprights, placing Syracuse ahead 44-34 with 9:39 to go.
With 7:23 to play in the game, Harmon caught his second touchdown of the game, this from 12 yards out, to put the Orange on alert, ahead 44-41 on the Wolfpack. Syracuse allowed three touchdowns on all three of N.C. State's second-half possessions up to this point.
On the Wolfpack's fourth possession of the second half, junior defensive end Alton Robinson brought the pressure on Finley who got the ball out but to junior linebacker Andrew Armstrong for the interception, giving Syracuse the ball and placing them just outside of N.C. State's redzone.
Pass interference on the Wolfpack once again trying to stop Nykeim Johnson moved the Orange ahead to the Wolfpack 7-yard line.
This would be followed by three consecutive run plays, the third a touchdown rush from five yards out by Strickland to place the Orange ahead 51-41.
With the win, Syracuse becomes bowl eligible and defeats a Top-25 ranked opponent for the first time this season.
The Orange are 6-2, and back to a winning record inside the ACC at 3-2.
Syracuse has not been eligible for a bowl game since 2013, their first season as an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) team. That was Scott Shafer's final season as head coach, making this Dino Babers' first bowl eligible season in three tries.
The Orange had advanced to the bowl season three times in four years from 2010 to 2013, winning all three (2010 Pinstripe Bowl over the Kansas State Wildcats, 2012 Pinstripe Bowl over the West Virginia Mountaineers, and the 2013 Texas Bowl over the Minnesota Golden Gophers). Syracuse won both Pinstripe Bowls under former head coach and football alum Doug Marrone.