EAST HARTFORD, Conn. —SU took the fast lane on their road opener against UConn, defeating the Huskies 31-24.
Head coach Dino Babers stayed true to his fast offense from the very beginning to the end. It took the first 51 seconds of the game for the Orange to get on the board. Four minutes and twelve seconds later, Syracuse was up 14-0 thanks to the connection between quarterback Eric Dungey and wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Dungey looked far and wide to Etta-Tawo who caught two TD passes, a 57-yard and 30-yard pass.
“They’ve just got this connection with them,” Babers said. “They just know what the other person is going to do. Eric has a lot of faith throwing that ball up to him in 50/50 situations.”
In Etta-Tawo’s fourth game with the Orange, he is already making Syracuse record books. He had 12 catches for a total of 270 receiving yards in the victory. Etta-Tawo’s 270 yards are the most in a single game for Syracuse, a record that previously stood for 31 years. He also became the first player in program history to have multiple 200-yard games. The graduate transfer had 210 yards in the season opener against Colgate on September 2nd.
When asked about his success against the Huskies, Etta-Tawo said, “I try to enter each season with a clear mind…I really didn’t have any type of numbers in mind so I guess this is exactly what I thought it would be.”
UConn did not take it easy on the Orange though. In the 2nd quarter, the Huskies were a threat to be reckoned with. UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and the offense responded to the Orange’s back-to-back touchdowns with double touchdowns for themselves to tie up the game. Running back Ron Johnson scored the first touchdown with a 2-yard rush. UConn would score with 34 seconds left in the half to knock off SU’s lead. Running back Arkeel Newsome tied up the game with a 6-yd rush.
SU would attempt to take the lead going into the half with their kicker Cole Murphy. As Murphy lined up for the 47-yard FG attempt, UConn took back-to-back timeouts. Murphy not fazed by the attempt to “ice the kicker”, made the FG.
The second half was dominated by the Syracuse defense. Syracuse held UConn to one field goal in the third quarter. With less than a minute remaining in the third, cornerback Cordell Hudson took UConn for a run. Hudson gave Syracuse a dominant lead, 24-17, with a pick 6, running the ball 22 yards back into the UConn end zone.
In the fourth quarter, UConn was hot on Syracuse’s heels. UConn at fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line would go for the touchdown. Syracuse’s Zaire Franklin stopped the game-changing touchdown and pushed back Shirreffs one yard to force the turnover. Syracuse responded with a 99-yard drive that led to a rushing touchdown by Dungey to secure the win. UConn would score another touchdown in the loss against Syracuse.
Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for over 400 passing yards, a new career record.
The 2-2 Orange will face Notre Dame next in MetLife Stadium at noon on October 1st. Notre Dame this week were upset 38-35 by Duke, tied for biggest upset in the last 20 years for the Fighting Irish.