A quick take on Syracuse’s 30-23 loss to Middle Tennessee on Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: With the score knotted at 23 midway through the fourth quarter, Brent Stockstill found Shane Tucker in the flat and he leaped over Juwan Dowels for the go-ahead score with 6:46 left. With SU moving the ball well on its ensuing drive, Eric Dungey threw a costly interception looking for Erv Phillips as the officials appeared to miss an offside call on the play. Syracuse had one last chance with 33 seconds left, but Steve Ishmael was dropped on a 4th and 15 one yard short of a first down, and the Orange dropped its first game of the season.
ANALYSIS: This was not the crisp looking offense that showed up last week against Central Connecticut State. Facing stiffer competition from a team that upset Missouri in 2016, the Orange had far too many drops on offense, and quarterback Eric Dungey was under duress all afternoon, absorbing five sacks. The loss is a huge blow to the Orange’s chances for a bowl game, with the competition only getting more difficult from here on out. It was also a measure of revenge for Scott Shafer, who enjoyed a nice homecoming as defensive coordinator of MTSU, against a school that had dismissed him two seasons ago.
HERO: Scott Shafer 1. Syracuse 0. The old ball coach called a brilliant game, holding the Orange to just 308 yards, 188 through the air. Stockstill went 22-of-36 for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
ZERO: Early in the third quarter, defensive end Walter Brady came in on a late hit on Dungey, and was ejected for targeting. Syracuse’s secondary gave up far too many big plays in the second half after the Orange held the Raiders to just nine first half points.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Central Michigan next Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at the Carrier Dome.