ORLANDO, Fla.– Eric Dungey stood up from his knee and handed the football to a referee. He turned to his right, arms large, and welcomed fellow senior Dontae Strickland. While the rest of their teammates went to the center of the field, dancing, the 2 stood straight where Dungey took the knee to seal the game.
For 3 years, the 2 watched as their group rested in purgatory as one of the bottom-feeders of the Power 5. That knee meant more than just a bowl-game victory. It was the culmination of a four-year struggle that finally saw the Orange go back to days of old, and they stood at its epicenter, as catalysts, accelerating the process of returning to national significance.
This Friday, No. 20 Syracuse (10-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast) bludgeoned No. 16 West Virginia (8-4, 6-3 Huge 12), 34-18, to win 10 video games for the very first time given that 2001 and just the seventh time in program history. This season proved to be unlike any in years past. Syracuse, coming off a four-year bowl dry spell, which was tied for the second-longest among all Power 5 programs, was selected to finish last in the ACC before presenting the best season it has actually produced in nearly twenty years.
With sights set on simply reaching a bowl game, SU did far more, etching the 2018 season among the finest in Orange history. In a year when Syracuse desperately required to succeed amid a prolonged spell of mediocrity, the Orange turned its skeptics into followers regardless of its recent past, originating from a pledge made nearly three years earlier.
On Jan. 9, 2016, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers took center court during Syracuse basketball’s contest with North Carolina. All week heading up to that night, Babers had a hard time to determine what he was going to state to the crowd of over 26,000 people. He talked with family and friends previously, but didn’t think them when they all informed him he would “do fine.”
“You do not understand,” Babers repeatedly said, “I don’t know what to say.”
When he took the microphone to begin his intro, he started by saying “we’re not gon na make guarantees,” however less than one minute later on, he raised his voice as the Carrier Dome rose to its feet.
“We will win,” Babers shouted into the microphone, before leaving the court.
Following Syracuse’s 51-41 win against then-No. 22 North Carolina State in October to clinch a bowl berth for the first time since 2013, Babers reminisced about that introduction during the basketball video game. About how he assured to not make pledges, only to make the greatest one of them all.
“When it’s out there, you can’t take it back,” Babers said.
3 West Virginia offending players remained of the Outdoor Camping World Bowl in order to prepare for the draft, including quarterback Will Grier, a preseason Heisman candidate. No players on Syracuse remained to prepare for the draft. For a group that had not played past November in 5 years, a win in Orlando meant another chance to prove this season was different, that Syracuse has actually escaped the gorge it had been buried in at the bottom of the ACC.
Throughout the week heading into this match, Babers stressed the significance of his team’s mental perseverance, that if the Orange entered this game focused on the job at hand, they ‘d have “a great chance.” Yet, when the match started, West Virginia looked like the more made up, more concentrated team.
Throughout the very first half, the teams traded the ball back-and-forth with neither able to take control of the game and hold firm. The only true bright spot for Syracuse was available in the type of Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams, who scored 2 first-half goals in his Orange debut. Syracuse, at times, reverted back to old routines, having a hard time to fill gaps and offering up piece runs and missing out on easy deals with.
The Mountaineers, who won through the air all season, ran for 124 yards and a goal in the first half. They explored with the wildcat, ran jet sweeps and simply deceived SU protectors with various computing. For Syracuse, Dungey, who rattled off six overall touchdowns in his last game versus Boston College, threw 2 very first half interceptions. He attempted to produce offense when there was no hope, resulting in deep sacks. And the offending line, one of the most knowledgeable in the nation, allowed WVU’s defense line to permeate the backfield with ease with five first half sacks allowed.
SU’s battles continued throughout the 3rd quarter, until the Orange lastly broke free in the fourth. Dungey attacked more with his legs, moving outside the pocket, and requiring the defense to chase, opening the remainder of the field for his receivers. The offending line held constant, protecting its quarterback and offering the remainder of the team time to create separation. And the defense, that made stops, but had a hard time to create plays in the very first three quarters, clicked.
After Dungey found Trishton Jackson at the pylon for a touchdown to take the lead, 24-18, to start the 4th quarter, Allen Stritzinger chose off his very first pass of the season in West Virginia area, leading to another three points for the Orange.
As the clock decreased in the 4th, SU continued to raise its game while West Virginia crumbled. Dungey and the rest of the offense discovered their groove, taking advantage of West Virginia’s errors. In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers blitzed, rushing through the SU offending line. Dungey, turned over his best shoulder to avert a sack and tossed a soft, lofting ball to Moe Neal deep in the backfield. Behind three offending linemen, Neal cut across the whole field, breaking 3 tackles, and racing ahead for a 42-yard gain to establish another SU touchdown.
For 45 minutes, SU looked like the group that fell apart versus Pittsburgh, the one that nearly gave up a house loss to North Carolina. The team that could not break 5 wins for four-consecutive years.
But in the 4th quarter, Syracuse looked totally different. The Orange defense smothered the Mountaineers, simply as they did versus Florida State, and Dungey looked as smooth as he did throughout his dominant efficiency against NC State.
Simply when it appeared like Syracuse may dig itself into the crevice it struggled to leave for what felt like an eternity, the Orange surged ahead, engraving its spot in Syracuse lore.
Babers always asked for faith, belief without proof. Syracuse is loyal once again, on the back of among the finest seasons in team history.
Dungey and Strickland continued to stand in their spot, accepting, understanding their faith led them to this moment.
The post Syracuse beats West Virginia in the Outdoor Camping World Bowl to top very first 10-win season given that 2001 appeared initially on The Daily Orange – The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York.
ORLANDO, Fla.– Eric Dungey stood up from his knee and handed the football to a referee. He turned to his right, arms wide, and accepted fellow senior Dontae Strickland. While the rest of their teammates went to the center of the field, dancing, the two stood directly where Dungey took the knee to seal the...
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