SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Orange turned back the clocks today in an astounding finish, improving their start to 3-0 for the first time in 24 years. It took overtime in the steamy Carrier Dome for the Cuse to squeak out a win over Central Michigan 30-27.
After snatching the pitch from walk-on quarterback Zachary Mahoney, Jordan Fredericks raced towards the sideline, turned up field andleaped into the air, stretching the ball towards the pilon. The ball touched the inside edge, the official signed touchdown and it was euphoria for Orange Nation. This capped off a 78 yard day, and another stand-out performance by “Ground Jordan” leading the Cuse in the victory.
The end result, a Syracuse win is nothing but positive momentum for the Orange heading in to a showdown next week with nationally ranked LSU (AP #13, USA Today #14). However, the day was shadowed with more unfortunate circumstances at the quarterback position.
Syracuse might be the only team in Division I – FBS to have gone through nearly their entire depth chart under center. The well documented loss of Terrel Hunt in Game 1 has led to continued bad luck for anyone who takes snaps for the Orange.
Eric Dungey, who has led the team in a sparkling fashion with wins over Rhode Island and Wake Forest, saw his season flash before his eyes in the second quarter today. As Dungey lofted the ball for touchdown to Dontae Strickland on a 25 yard connection, he was greeted with a massive blow to the head by Central Michigan linebacker, Mitch Stanitzek.
Stanitzek was subsequently ejected from the game.
Dungey was in the process of having his legs mangled by a tackle from linebacker Nathan Ricketts, when Stanitzek went for Dungey’s head and he landed on the turf in a pretzel. To put it plainly a car accident took place in the backfield.
With this gruesome hit, the Orange were now forced to tap into their bench again. Austin Wilson was first up and he did manage a seven yard touchdown pass to Jamal Custis (Wilson's and Custis’ first of their career), but after turning the ball over the coaching staff was forced to select their fourth string play caller. Sophomore quarterback, Zack Mahoney would trade possessions the remainder of the game with Wilson. However, Syracuse would not earn a true first down for the rest of the game.
This has already been a tough season injury wise for the Cuse. In addition to losing quarterbacks, hybrid back Erv Philips is still out for a handful of weeks after his Week 1 injury. Other than medical care, only the wins seem to be on the side of the Orange. But, SU Head Coach Scott Shafer will keep the doctor’s visits under wraps going forward.
Scott Shafer was oozing with confidence, and sweat as the Dome reached its balmy temperatures of 80 plus again today.
“My high school football coach is here today, that’s where it all started, and I remember games we found ways to win that weren’t supposed to,” Shafer said. “That’s what today was, we found a way to win.”
This enthusiasm and gusto is what the Orange will most definitely need heading into a showdown next week with SEC powerhouse, Louisiana State. The Tigers rolled over Auburn today 45-21, and Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette rushed for over 200 yards with three touchdowns. It is going to be a tall order for the Cuse, which gave up 143 yards on the ground, and 430 yards in the air.
Syracuse did make some key stops in the running game, which included some late tackles in the overtime period to hold the Chippewas to a field goal. But, Devon Spalding, running back for CMU had 190 all-purpose yards (88 rush, and 102 catch) which makes the Orange susceptible to both the run and pass. Cooper Rush did not disappoint either throwing for those 430 yards, and 147 of which were connections with Ben McCord.
Negativity could be spread around to a variety of scenarios and situations for the Orange, but a win is important. It is what Central New York needs, and heading into a big week it is the hype that this program needs. The Orange are relevant again, as early in the season as it may be. Regardless of the outcome next week, they are certainly not a team to overlook in the ACC.
Togetherness is still their mantra. Zach Mahoney echoed this thought again, and Jordan Fredericks reiterated the “next man up” mentality for Syracuse. They will need this attitude going forward no matter the opponent, stadium, or game time.