Instant Juice: Syracuse 55, Western Michigan 42

Syracuse running back Dontae Strickland (4) rushes against Western Michigan. Mandatory Photo Credit: Raj Mehta, USA Today Sports.

A quick take on Syracuse’s 55-42 win over Western Michigan in the 2018 season opener:

WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse looked like a vastly improved team in the first half, jumping out to a 34-7 lead, allowing backup quarterback Tommy DeVito to take snaps. But DeVito struggled and the Broncos offense found its way, with WMU pulling to within 34-28 with 5:19 left in the third quarter. Dino Babers inserted Eric Dungey back under center, and he immediately led the Orange on an eight-play, 60 yard drive, culminating in an impressive one-handed touchdown catch by Jamal Custis for a 21-yard score. Syracuse finally put the game out of reach after Kielan Whitner’s interception to close the third quarter set up another SU score for a 55-35 lead.

» Related: Can Syracuse football make a bowl game? It’ll be close

ANALYSIS: With Dungey in his senior season, Babers is trying to get his heir apparent, DeVito as many snaps as possible under game conditions. But Babers left the struggling DeVito one drives too many, as the Orange saw its once dominant lead evaporate in less than a quarter. It was another example of how Dungey has mastered the SU offense, as he led the Orange on each of its scoring drives, while the offense didn’t score at all with DeVito in the game. The other major offensive question heading into this season was who would replace the production of Erv Phipps and Steve Ishmael. That question was answered fairly quickly, with Custis hauling in six catches for 168 yards and a pair of scores.

HERO: Dungey set a record for ACC quarterbacks, finishing with 15 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown. He also added 184 yards and two scores through the air. His counterpart, Jon Wassink, kept pace, throwing for 379 yards and three scores. LeVante Bellamy chipped in 120 yards and two scores on the ground.

ZERO: Syracuse’s defense surrendered 621 total yards to the Broncos and 42 points. The defense over its last four games has allowed 204 points (which five teams allowed less than all of 2017), according to ESPN’s David Hale. Things also got out of control late in the third quarter when Dungey finished scrambling for a first down. Dungey was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a fight broke out that also resulted in SU guard Evan Adams and WMU’s Greg Spears being ejected.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays Wager in its season opener on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]