Both Syracuse and Wagner played their roles to perfection in the home opener for the Orange on Saturday. The Seahawks, hailing from the lower-level FCS, looked overmatched and compounded that with mental and physical errors. SU took advantage of that combination, flattening their guests, 62-10, to move to 2-0 on the season and dropping Wagner to 1-1 overall.
Syracuse rolled up 59 points in just over two-and-a-half quarters with Eric Dungey at the helm. The senior quarterback guided the Orange to scores on eight of 11 possessions, including tying a school record with five touchdown passes in the game.
The first of those scoring tosses came just over three minutes into the game. Following an Andre Cisco pick to end Wagner’s first drive, Dungey targeted Jamal Custis in the end zone and the ball was deflected up in the air, only to be snagged by a diving Sean Riley for a 16-yard touchdown. Andre Szmyt tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Cisco, the freshman safety, was just getting started, as he also thwarted the second Seahawk drive with an interception. Four plays later, Dontae Strickland plowed into the end zone from a yard out and SU owned a 14-0 lead following Szmyt’s conversion. Following a Wagner touchdown, Dungey connected with freshman Taj Harris for his first career reception, a 19-yard touchdown catch. Szmyt’s extra point made it a 21-7 game with 38 seconds left in the first.
Syracuse blew the game open in the second quarter with 24 straight points. Dungey lobbed a three-yard scoring pass to tight end Ravian Pierce to open the assault. Szmyt added the extra point and followed that with a 38-yard field goal to make it 31-7 in favor of the Orange with under six minutes left in the half.
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Riley blocked a punt less than 90 seconds later and Trill Williams caught the loose ball and stepped into the end zone from two yards out. SU got the ball back with 1:31 left on the clock and turned that chance into points less than a minute later when Dungey hit a deep ball to Nykeim Johnson for a 28-yard score. Szmyt tacked on another conversion, staking SU to a 45-7 halftime lead.
With two more possessions after the break, Dungey directed two more scoring drives. With the Orange moving at a more deliberate pace, the first drive ended when Strickland burst untouched into the end zone for a 20-yard score. Dungey finished his day by connecting with Custis on a back shoulder route in the right side of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown. That score boosted the Syracuse lead to 59-7 just past the midpoint of the third.
Tommy DeVito relieved Dungey after that and directed one scoring drive. Szmyt matched a Wagner field goal with a 50-yarder from the right hash that split the uprights and closed the scoring with 11:45 to go.
Dungey was markedly more efficient with his arm than in the season opener, connecting on 23-of-32 passes for 218 yards and five touchdowns, as well as an interception. Moe Neal had 71 yards on nine carries while freshman Jarveon Howard rang up 69 yards on 13 clock-killing carries in the fourth. Sean Riley had a team-high six receptions for 54 yards and Nykeim Johnson’s 65 receiving yards led eight different pass-catchers.
Freshman Andre Cisco made it three interceptions in two games by snaring a pair or passes. Tyrell Richards added a late interception for the third forced turnover by the Orange defense. Richards also had a sack, as did Kingsley Jonathan, while Andrew Armstrong paced the squad with 11 tackles.
Syracuse takes a significant step up in competition when they welcome Florida State to the Carrier Dome next Saturday. The Seminoles, who dropped out of the polls following their opening weekend loss, evened their record at 1-1 with a victory over Samford on Saturday.
The ‘Noles struggled against the Bulldogs, who play in the FCS, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes to escape with a 36-26 victory. Deandre Francois threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns in the contest for FSU.
Kickoff between the Orange and the Seminoles is set for noon Eastern and the game will be televised by ESPN. The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com.
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