Syracuse entered Saturday’s Week 2 game against Wagner as the heavy favorites, and the Orange proved it was superior from the start in what would be a 62-10 victory.
The only thing the Seahawks won in this game was the coin toss, where they elected to receive.
Then, on the game’s opening drive, Syracuse intercepted Wagner and eight plays later had a touchdown. And then SU did the same thing again. Five drives later, the Orange forced a fumble that Wagner recovered on fourth down, and then SU scored another touchdown. In the second quarter, Syracuse blocked punt right in front of the goal line, catching the ball and scoring a touchdown. The Orange intercepted the ball for the third time of the game in the fourth quarter, intercepting the third quarterback of the game for Wagner by doing so.
That was the way Saturday’s home opener would go.
In short, it was a game of highlights for Syracuse, one where the Orange’s coolest turnover became more exciting than continually seeing SU score.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
To open the game, Syracuse intercepted each of Wagner’s first two drives and responded with touchdowns on each to take an early 14-0 lead. Both interceptions were by true freshman DB Andre Cisco. “This is my first time in the Dome at a game at all, ‘cause I didn’t visit last year or anything,” Cisco said. “So to start it out like that is a great feeling.” SU came into the came as the heavy favorites and set the tone accordingly. Then the Orange got a third interception in the fourth quarter by Tyrell Richards. “They really capitalized on their opportunity,” Babers said. “ And that’s the part that excites me the most in that area.”
After throwing an interception on the first drive of the game, Seahawks QB Luke Massei was removed from the game. Massei, who was Wagner’s starting quarterback last year and in week one this year, was replaced my T.J. Linta. Linta also threw an interception on his first drive of the game.
Andre Szmyt kicked a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make the score 62-10. Syracuse’s 62 points are now the most points scored in one game during Dino Babers time as the Orange head coach, one more point that SU’s 61-point showing against Pittsburgh in 2016
WHERE SYRACUSE STOOD OUT
In less than one game and a quarter, Syracuse had already matched the number of interceptions it had all of last year. Two in Week 1 plus two (one on each of the first drives) in Week 2.
Eric Dungey went 23-32 for 218 passing yards and 5 touchdowns while also rushing for 44 net yards. He tied the Syracuse record for passing touchdowns in a game. Now, he has broken or tied Syracuse records in each game of 2018 so far (200 rush yards in Week 1 is the most ever by a SU QB).
Whereas Jamal Custis was the clear number one receiver for the Orange in Week 1, the receiving corps was utilized more evenly in Week 2. Custis made 5 catches for 41 yards, Sean Riley made 6 catches for 54 yards, Devin C. Butler made 4 catches for 37 yards and Nykeim Johnson joined the ranks with 3 catches for 65 yards. This is a good sign for Syracuse to be able to trust many receivers. Being able to spread the field and target any receiver also keeps defenses on guard against SU, whereas it was clear last year that Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips were the go-tos, as was Amba Etta-Tawo in 2016. “We put a light on some things, and we had some black and white conversations with individuals to let them know what the expectations are, and we can’t settle, we won’t settle for less than what we want out of those positions,” Babers said. “I thought that numerous guys at that position stepped up trying to show us that they’re capable of being that guy.”
WHAT ABOUT WAGNER
After rushing for 271 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1, Ryan Fulse ran for just 47 net yards on 21 attempts. The Syracuse defense did an excellent job plugging holes at the line on defense against Wagner. Shutting down an opponent’s running game is crucial in winning football games, and SU did a solid job against the Seahawks.
Wagner went through three quarterbacks in the game. Luke Massei was in for only the first drive of the game. T.J. Linta played from there into the fourth quarter until he left due to injury. Graham Lindman took over for the rest of the game.
BY THE NUMBERS
Syracuse has now won six consecutive home openers, going back to 2013 Week 3 when SU defeated Wagner 54-0. The Orange are now 17-0 against FCS teams since major football programs were split into two divisions (formerly D I-AA), and Syracuse has now won 35 games straight against current FCS teams all time.
Andre Szmyt’s 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter is the longest FG of his career. “I had no doubt he had the leg to hit the 50-yarder,” Babers said. “It was just a matter of whether it was going to be through the goalpost or not.”
HE SAID IT
“Personally, I don’t feel like we played the best football out there. I feel like we should have won by more. … Just from my standpoint, I feel like we could have done a lot better. We could have scored more and more.” ~Eric Dungey
“At the end of the day, as long as we’re getting wins, I can throw five picks, you guys [the press] can say what you want about me, but we’re winning, so that’s all I care about.” ~Eric Dungey
“This is probably our most complete game that we’ve played here from an offense, defense and special teams point of view, and they just caught us at the wrong time. It was high tide, and we were rockin’ and rollin’ out there.” ~Dino Babers said Wagner is a very tough team but that Syracuse just put all the pieces together at the same time today
“I think we just did what everyone anticipated us doing. If we did anything different, then there would be all kind of articles being written.” ~Dino Babers
Florida State visits Central New York in Week 3. It is expected to be a contest that is a little more heated.
“It gives us the chance to have the kind of season that we want to have, one game at a time. It gives us an opportunity to play an opponent that, you know, they have more talent than we have,” Babers said. “The really cool thing about football is that the most talented team doesn’t win all the time. The team that plays the best wins. So we’re going to go out and try and play our very, very best game and see where that leads us on Saturday.”
Published: David Edelstein