The Orange learned how amazing it is to have your quarterback play late into November. This is the first season Eric Dungey was on the field beyond the first week of November and it led to a convincing 42-21 win over Boston College. The win gives the Orange a 9-3 record in the regular season, the team’s best since 2001.
With all the doubt heading into today’s game about whether or not Dungey would start, he trotted onto the field for the opening drive. It’s the first time in his career that the senior has played in all 12 games, even though he still battled some nicks and bruises throughout the year.
However, it wasn’t just his arm that got the job done today. Even though he threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns, his legs were the difference maker in Chestnut Hill. Dungey’s three rushing touchdowns established and maintained his aggressiveness throughout the game, despite some question marks surrounding his health. He finished with six total touchdowns, which is a new career high for the senior playing in his final regular season game.
But it wasn’t Dungey on the ground. In fact, both running backs had good days out of the backfield for the Orange. Dontae Strickland continues to impress ever since being demoted to the backup role. He had a career high 129 yards, including 51 yards on two carries to set up the first touchdown. Moe Neal also was solid on the ground with 37 yards, but maybe more importantly, had a big reception on 3rd and 13 to respond to a big BC touchdown with a drive-extending first down pickup. That set up a Dungey to Jamal Custis touchdown to give SU a 14 point advantage that it never looked back from.
Defensively, the Orange held preseason ACC Player of the Year AJ Dillon to just 56 yards before leaving with an injury. This comes just a year after he gashed the SU defense for 193 yards and three touchdowns. What makes it particularly impressive was that two of the best tacklers on the team in Antwan Cordy and Kendall Coleman did not play. The Orange hopes to have them both back with about a month likely coming between now and the bowl game.
So how about that. Nine wins. For a team projected to be the worst in the Atlantic and tied for the worst odds to win the conference, a 9-3 finish with a chance for double digit wins isn’t too shabby now is it? Dino Babers made 2018 different thanks to a great blend of experienced seniors and some talented young guys.
Syracuse will play a game 13 that is yet to be determined, but it will likely end in the Orange going down south to escape the central New York winter.