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Eric Dungey leads Syracuse to comeback win over Wake Forest

first_imgEric Dungey walked past Tim Lester on his way to the podium and couldn’t get by without the offensive coordinator taking a jab.“First half he was getting down on himself a little bit … speak of the devil,” Lester said as Dungey opened the door to the interview room. “Talking about how the corner opened you up pretty good.”Lester — referring to a play where Dungey was laid out from his blind side — pointed out a red mark on Dungey’s neck that he joked came from that play. The true freshman laughed it off, and a brief “that felt good” followed as he continued on his way.Dungey wasn’t in any sort of jovial mood until early in the fourth quarter, when he found Steve Ishmael on a 53-yard touchdown pass to put Syracuse up 27-17. For the first two-plus quarters, the true freshman played like one. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 35 yards in the first half to go along with 4 rushing yards on four attempts.But starting with a scrambling sidearm throw to Brisly Estime on the second drive of the second half that turned into the third-longest passing play in program history, Dungey emerged. The freshman signal-caller went 4-of-6 for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the latter 30 minutes, leading Syracuse (2-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 30-17 win over Wake Forest (1-1, 1-1) in front of 26,670 in the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Ever since the first day that kid came I knew he was something special,” Ishmael said. “I always tell him, just keep your head up and keep working.”The Dungey-starter era began with two completed passes and a nifty double-option flip to hybrid Ben Lewis for 17 yards. But after the pocket collapsed on him for a third-down sack later that drive, he couldn’t get in a rhythm for the rest of the first half.Head coach Scott Shafer attributed Dungey’s struggles to missed reads on triple-option sets and a couple missed throws. After a play where Dungey sailed the ball past everybody, Shafer said the sideline thought, “Who’s he throwing to?”“He was madder at himself than I was mad at him, to be quite honest with you,” Shafer said. “… He had some freshman moments. That’s going to happen.”Demon Deacons quarterback John Wolford threw two interceptions that turned into 10 SU points, but the Orange couldn’t capitalize on much more while WFU’s quarterback accounted for two scores himself.After a three-and-out on Syracuse’s first drive of the second half, Dungey went down the line of starting offensive linemen sitting on the bench and gave them each high-fives before retreating to his own seat.They were shielding him for the most part, but at that point Dungey only had one completion to a wide receiver — a 9-yard screen to Estime on the first pass of the game.“It all started with the linemen up front, though, they’re giving me time,” Dungey said. “Without time, I can’t really do anything.”On the next drive, Dungey made good use of that time as he scrambled and spun around near his own goal line. The pass, completed to Estime, was then taken about 65 yards to the end zone down the middle of the field.Dungey jogged down the field, trailing the play as he calmly pumped his right fist.“That’s the guy that we recruited,” Shafer said.Ishmael’s score elicited a more boisterous reaction, as Dungey turned to the Wake Forest sideline and jumped up and down, aggressively clapping his hands.The normally subdued, self-critical freshman had come alive.And after setting up in shotgun formation on fourth-and-1 from Wake Forest’s 38, Dungey pooch-punted the ball to pin the Demon Deacons at their own 10. Wolford netted -4 yards on the ensuing drive and couldn’t regain the pace that put Syracuse in a halftime deficit.His final action of the day — a kneel with 28 seconds left — calmly ended Dungey’s first collegiate start as the clock ticked to triple-zeros. A tranquil ending to a once-frantic game that saw a new era in Syracuse football begin with a win.“In good time we just keep leading him forward,” Shafer said. “He’ll be a very good quarterback, but we have to play great defense. We have to be able to run that ball and create some big plays to help him in his growth.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 12, 2015 at 4:03 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidmanlast_img read more

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