Instant Juice: Syracuse 30, Wake Forest 17

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Syracuse’s defense tightened up in the second half against Wake Forest

A quick take on Syracuse’s entertaining 30-17 win over Wake Forest on a rainy Saturday afternoon outside of the Dome, and on a day in which Hall of Fame coach Dick MacPherson was honored by the 26,670 fans on hand with a first half spin around the field:

WHAT HAPPENED: For just the fourth time since 1999, an Orange squad started the season with two wins out of the gate, and in opening up its third ACC season, Syracuse (2-0, 1-0) accomplished the feat in comeback fashion. Down 17-13 at halftime, freshman quarterback Eric Dungey electrified the crowd with an 89 yard scoring strike to Brisly Estime late in the third quarter, the third longest scoring pass play in school history, then came back to hit Steve Ishmael with a laser pass for a 53 yard score early in the fourth quarter to provide enough cushion for the Orange ‘D’ to clamp down on Demon Deacons quarterback John Wolford and hold Wake scoreless the final 30 minutes.

» Related: How will Dungey do against Wake?

ANALYSIS: In an expected close game between the two teams that were at the bottom of the ACC Atlantic Division a year ago, Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1) moved the ball throughout the first half against the Orange to take the halftime lead, before SU stiffened and Dungey coolly took command of the offense. The freshman quarterback looked poised as he eluded pressure to hit a streaking Estime for the go ahead score, while the defense was relentless, scoring a touchdown for the second straight week on lineman Donnie Simmons’ pick six in the first half, and clamping down on the Wake rushing game (only 46 yards on the ground), and finishing with four sacks of Wolford.

HERO: Head coach Scott Shafer told the ACC Network TV audience at halftime that Dungey would play better in the second half, and he certainly did with the long scoring strikes to Estime and Ishmael, finishing 8 for 13- 221 yards, and 58 yards rushing.  Only one other ‘Cuse quarterback has thrown two longer touchdown passes in a game than Dungey – Donovan McNabb in 1995 (96 yards) and ’97 (94 yards).  And for good measure, Dungey even successfully pooch punted with 5:25 left in the game to pin Wake deep.

ZERO: It’s nit-picking with how the second half turned out, and the unit did have three interceptions, but the Syracuse secondary had its difficulties early as Wake scored all 17 of its points before halftime, and Wolford finished with 373 yards passing, although some of that offense came late with the game already decided.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays its third straight home game hosting Central Michigan next Saturday, Sept. 19.  Last season the Orange routed the Chippewas on the road 40-3.  CMU (1-1) defeated FCS member Monmouth 31-10 Saturday, scoring all of its 31 points in the first half.  Game Time: 12:30 p.m. ET.  TV: ACC Regional Sports Networks.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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