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Syracuse Football’s Eighth Win: What Made this Night Special

The Eighth Win: Highlights of SU Football vs. Louisville

 

For the second week in a row, Syracuse football started out slow. Then SU blocked a field goal and scored the first points of the game on that drive, owning the momentum from there.

 

Penalties, missed opportunities and turnovers defined Louisville’s night as the Orange dominated.

 

BIG MOMENTS

 

Each team had big plays in the game, with Syracuse leading the charge:

 

  • A 61-yard rush by Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham in quarter one
  • SU blocked a 60-yard Louisville field goal attempt and returned the ball 31 yards to the Cardinals 41 yard line
  • Moe Neal had a 67-yard touchdown rush in quarter two to make the score 17-7 SU
  • Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass lost a fumble at the Cardinals 24 yard line in quarter two
  • Andre Cisco intercepted a pass at the Louisville 41 yard line and brought it down to the Cardinals’ 2 yard line
  • Kingsley Jonathan recovered a fumble for SU at the Louisville 22 yard line in quarter two
  • Defensive back Kielan Whitner intercepted a pass for SU at the Louisville 39 yard line in quarter two
  • Moe Neal had a 69-yard rush in quarter 3
  • Dez Fitzpatrick caught a 43-yard pass from Jawon Pass, bringing the ball to the SU 13 yard line in quarter three
  • Nykiem Johnson rushed for a 65-yard touchdown in quarter four to make the score 51-14 SU

 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

 

Syracuse put up the first points of the game on a 1-yard Jarveon Howard touchdown rush. But it wasn’t that simple. Syracuse made early mistakes that let Louisville into Syracuse territory—losing a fumble when receiving Louisville’s first punt of the game and then letting Cardinals QB Malik Cunningham pierce the defense for a 61-yard run. The first resulted in a punt, starting the Orange at its own 9 yard line instead of where it could have been at the Louisville 40. The second flipped the momentum. Syracuse blocked a 60-yard field goal attempt and Antwan Cordy took the ball 31 yards from the SU 28 to the Louisville 41. A few plays later, the train-horn blasted and bell rang.

 

In quarter two, Syracuse forced Louisville to turn the ball over four times in a row. It was a fumble, interception, fumble, interception. SU scored after all four turnovers and went into halftime up 37-7.

 

WHERE SYRACUSE STOOD OUT

 

The Syracuse pass rush was strong once again. It looked like SU pressured Louisville quarterbacks on every play, and the Orange ended the game with 6 sacks.

 

Forcing 4 turnovers on the game, Syracuse overpowered Louisville.

 

After a shaky start with a few errors, Syracuse played like the ranked team that it is.

 

WHAT ABOUT LOUISVILLE

 

Starting off with a penalty on the opening kickoff is never a good sign. Louisville caught some breaks from Syracuse early, but were largely dominated by the SU pass-rush and its own offensive mistakes. Louisville dropped at least three wide-open passes (one would have been caught at the goal line for a touchdown early in quarter two) as well as dropping what could have been an easy interception on SU first drive. Aside from some big plays, including QB Malik Cunningham’s 61-yard run in quarter one and a 22-yard rush by Colin Wilson in quarter two, the Cardinals couldn’t get its own momentum moving.

 

“They’ve been a good football team for the last four or five years,” Babers said. “They didn’t play that well tonight.”

 

The Cardinals were able to find some holes in the Syracuse defense from the beginning of the game. It could have looked a lot worse for the Orange had Louisville not dropped so many wide-open passes. The SU safeties and secondary in general still needs some work to cut down on opponents’ yards-after-catch and to prevent runs that get by the defensive line from going all the way down the field.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

 

0 — The number of losses Syracuse had at home this season. SU won every home game in 2018. This is the fourth time Syracuse has ever won every home game in a season. The other years were 1987, 1988 and 2001.

 

4 — The number of four drives in a row SU forced Louisville to turn the ball over. This happened in the second quarter. The sequence was a fumble, interception, fumble, interception. There were all the turnovers the Orange forces in the game.

5 — The number of interceptions Andre Cisco has this season. He intercepted his fifth pass of the year in this game. It was his first since September 22 against UConn. He’s now tied for second in the NCAA in that category and is in the top four total players.

 

108 — Eric Dungey went into halftime with 108 yards and no passing touchdowns. In a 37-7 game, that’s because SU scored four times on the ground. And after forcing Louisville to turn the ball over four times in a row in the second quarter, Syracuse was playing on short yardage situations. “If you’re playing in short yardage situations, that’s usually means good things are happening,” Babers said in the postgame press conference after the 62-10 win over Wagner on September 8. Sometimes the stats don’t tell the full story.

 

132 — The amonumberunt of points Andre Szmyt has scored this season. He is now the Syracuse single-season scoring record holder, passing Walter Reyes (128 points).

 

42,797 — The number of fans in attendance for the game. This was the largest crowd all season.

 

SENIORS’ SO LONG

 

This was the last football game in the Carrier Dome for the 2018 season, and it was a big night for the seniors.

 

A season high 42,727 fans were in attendance.

 

“Wow. … I can’t say enough about the community coming out and supporting these guys,” Babers said, pausing and holding back tears. “Ooh. That’s really cool. I’m not going to cry. That’s really cool.”

 

At the end of the game, the senior players walked around the Carrier Dome for one last time.

 

“It was awesome. You try and take as many selfies as you can with the fans,” Dungey said. “For the few that stayed, we really appreciate that. It just feels good. People sticking around and you’re able to interact with them.”

 

THE HURDLE

 

And of course it wouldn’t have been a final game for Dungey against Louisville if he didn’t try and jump over a player. Anyone waiting for that to happen got what they wanted at the start of the fourth quarter as Dungey had a 7-yard rush to the SU 36 for a first down and jump-kicked London Iakopo.

 

“I thought he was going down on my legs,” Dungey said. “Um, he didn’t.”

 

HE SAID IT

 

“Louisville’s the one team that’s smacked us the past three years. So, you know, this felt good for us. I really wanted to win by a lot, so I’m happy we did.” ~Eric Dungey on Syracuse’s defeating Louisville for the first time in his college career.

 

“Sometimes we feel overlooked as a defense, and we put a lot of work in, and we emphasize turnovers and different things like that. So to be able to go out there and show it on a Friday or Saturday night, it’s awesome,” Kielan Whitner said. “All the pieces coming together, everybody just doing their job. You see what can happen.”

 

“A couple of head coaches, a whole bunch of coordinators, numerous players in and out, some players that are with it, some players that left that didn’t have faith, belief without evidence, that we could get it done,” Babers said, explaining what this year’s senior class has been through. “I’m just proud about that class and the things they were able to achieve. They will be etched in stone forever.”

 

“That boy legendary.” ~Kielan Whitner on Eric Dungey and how Syracuse fans will remember him.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

 

Looking for its ninth win of the season, Syracuse heads to Yankee Stadium to play Notre Dame on Saturday, November 17.

 

If all goes well for SU in the rankings this weekend, it will be a matchup of top 25 opponents. This week, the Orange is #13 and the Fighting Irish are #3.

 

Playing football in neutral territory, in a baseball stadium, in the Bronx, this has the potential to be a landmark game for the 2018 season.

 

Published: David Edelstein

 

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