Two games, two weeks between them, two different teams.
Saturday afternoon, the Syracuse team that showed up at Central Michigan was a lot more pleasing to the eye than the one who barely escaped FCS foe Villanova in their opener, as the Orange (2-0) cruised to a 40-3 road win. The SU defense set the tone in the game, bouncing back from allowing the Chippewas (2-1) to start the game with a field goal to pitch a shutout over the final 52:43.
That Syracuse defense harassed Central Michigan all day, amassing eight tackles for loss, five sacks, and five passes broken up. The unit permitted the Chips to 34 net rushing yards and allowed them to convert only one of ten tries on third down.
The defensive effort set up a proficient offensive attack directed by Terrel Hunt. Hunt directed SU on six scoring drives, but that number could have been eight, as two drives came up empty on missed field goal attempts. The Orange outgained CMU by a 464-217 margin, including rolling up 289 yards on the ground.
Central Michigan opened the game with a ball-control drive that lasted 15 plays before they settled on a 26-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. The SU offense looked significantly better than what they had shown in their debut from the jump, as Terrel Hunt took a designed draw run 20 yards on the initial snap. The drive eventually bogged down at the Chips’ 25 and came up empty when Ryan Norton’s 42-yard field goal attempt missed badly to the left.
The Syracuse defense began to impose their will on the game, forcing a quick punt on the next CMU drive. The offense kicked into gear again, marching 64 yards and converting a pair of third downs along the way. A third conversion was not in the cards, though, as Prince-Tyson Gulley stepped out of bounds before snaring a possible touchdown pass from Hunt on third-and-goal. Norton came on and knocked a 23-yard field goal through the uprights to tie the game less than a minute into the second quarter.
The Orange defense made an impact play shortly after that when Eric Crume caused a fumble on a sack. Marquez Hodge scooped up the ball, hesitated for a moment, then took off for the end zone. 36 yards later, a Syracuse touchdown went on the scoreboard. The fumble and subsequent return were confirmed when CMU challenged and Norton came on to boot the extra point, which pushed the SU lead to 10-3 just over four minutes into the second quarter.
Hunt dominated the next Orange drive, connecting on six-of-seven passes for 46 yards. The only incompletion was when the ball zipped through Brisly Estime’s hands in the corner of the end zone on second-and-goal. The two made up for it on the following play when Estime hauled in a four-yard scoring toss. Norton booted the extra point to extend the Syracuse lead to 17-3, which stood until halftime.
In spite of Hunt ripping off a 36-yard burst up the middle, SU could not get points out of their opening drive of the second half. The Orange defense, however, did.
Two plays after Riley Dixon’s punt was downed at the Chippewa three, Cam Lynch came through the CMU line on a blitz. Lynch harassed the quarterback into throwing the ball away while in the end zone, which earned a flag for intentional grounding, giving Syracuse a safety and making it a 19-3 game.
After the two squads traded punts, freshman running back Erv Philips staked his claim to more playing time for the Orange by dominating an SU scoring march. Philips rolled up 50 yards on seven carries on the 74-yard drive. After Philips was stopped at the one on the last of those rushing attempts, Hunt finished off the drive by slashing into the end zone for a touchdown. Norton tacked on the extra point and SU held a 26-3 lead with under four minutes on the clock in the third quarter.
Syracuse added on to that lead quickly. When Central Michigan muffed the ensuing kickoff, Rodney Williams pounced on the ball, setting the Orange up at the Chips’ 19. Three plays later, Hunt scampered in off a play-fake, this time scoring from three yards out a mere 33 seconds after his first score. Another extra point by Norton boosted the SU lead to 33-3.
Two drives later, the Orange had another scoring chance, but Norton again could not connect from long range. Once again, he hooked a field goal try, this one from 45 yards.
SU’s final possession began at their own 14 with under five minutes remaining. Two of the first three plays of the drive were handoffs to Adonis Ameen-Moore, who ran like a man possessed. Ameen-Moore’s first touch on the drive picked up 23 yards and on the second, the big man rumbled for 53 yards, eventually running out of steam at the Central Michigan 8. Hunt capped yet another drive with a rushing touchdown, this time diving in from a yard out on fourth down. Norton’s extra point finished the scoring with 59 seconds on the clock.
Terrel Hunt controlled the SU offense, connecting on 20-of-30 passes for 175 yards and a score. Hunt also was a force on the ground, carrying the ball 13 times for 92 yards and three touchdowns. Adonis Ameen-Moore had a career day, piling up 106 yards on nine carries. Ashton Broyld led 11 different Orange receivers with four catches totaling 42 yards.
For the second straight game, Cameron Lynch paced the defense, this time with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks among his team-high eight tackles. Luke Arciniega and Eric Crume each had a sack and Ron Thompson was credited with a half-sack, as well. Marquez Hodge and Rodney Williams each recovered a fumble in the game.
Following the rout, SU will return to the Carrier Dome to face Maryland next Saturday. Last year, the Orange defeated the Terrapins on the road, 20-3, in their lone matchup as Atlantic Coast Conference mates, as Maryland is now a member of the Big Ten.
The Terps slid to 2-1 on the year on Saturday when they fell to West Virginia at home, 40-37. Maryland gave up 694 yards in the game, including 511 passing yards, but rallied from as large as a 22-point deficit to tie the game before the Mountaineers kicked a field goal on the game’s final play. Quarterback C.J. Brown threw for 241 yards and ran for 161 more for the Terrapins, while Stefon Diggs caught five passes for 127 yards in the contest.
The action will get underway at 12:30pm Eastern on the ACC Network and online at ESPN3.com.