November 13, 2016
Story by Jon Cerio Photos by Aubrie Tolliver SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Playing without starting quarterback Eric Dungey, the Syracuse Orange saw its bowl hopes fade Saturday afternoon as the North Carolina State Wolfpack won 35-20 in the Carrier Dome, dominating the stat sheet in the process. Just about an hour before the game, Syracuse announced that […]
Story by Jon Cerio
Photos by Aubrie Tolliver
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Playing without starting quarterback Eric Dungey, the Syracuse Orange saw its bowl hopes fade Saturday afternoon as the North Carolina State Wolfpack won 35-20 in the Carrier Dome, dominating the stat sheet in the process.
Just about an hour before the game, Syracuse announced that Dungey, who’d been injured against Clemson the week before and listed as questionable for this game, would not play.
“Before the Clemson game, I think that he was ranked in the top‐10 quarterbacks in the country,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “Obviously, we missed him a great deal out there. There would’ve been a lot of things that we could’ve taken advantage of.”
One day after Veterans Day, it was Military Appreciation Day in the Carrier Dome and things started well for the Orange.
After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the defense stopped the opening Wolfpack drive on downs at the Syracuse 39-yard line.
Zack Mahoney got the nod at quarterback, and found chemistry with Erv Philips. They connected three times on the opening drive for 26 yards.
The third came on fourth down and two at the NC State 28, Mahoney connected with Philips for a first down at the 16,
Then, on third and four, Dontae Strickland went up the middle on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Syracuse led 7-0 with 7:05 left in the first quarter.
Pack and Forth
While Syracuse kept the Wolfpack off the scoreboard for the remainder of the period, NC State was driving toward the end of it and started the second quarter with third down and one on the Syracuse seven-yard line.
Much of the Wolfpack yardage on the drive was on the back of Matthew Dayes and the senior from Fort Lauderdale took the ball in seven yards for the touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. By that point, Dayes had carried the ball ten times for 44 yards. He was far from being finished.
The Orange answered back. On a drive that started on the Syracuse 25-yard line, Mahoney found Alvin Cornelius for 46 yards to the NC State 27. But Syracuse stalled and settled for a Cole Murphy 48-yard field goal, and a 10-7 lead.
Head of the Pack
NC State started its next drive with 12:06 left in the half and Ryan Finley still at quarterback. On third and 10, Finley found Nyheim Hines for 56 yards, down to the Orange 17-yard line. Four plays later, Jaylen Samuels got into the end zone on a three-yard rush.
With 8:40 left in the first half, NC State had its first lead of the ball game, 14-10. The Wolfpack took the ball 76 yards in seven plays, and only needed 3:26 to do it.
On its next possession, the Wolfpack went with Sophomore quarterback Jalan McClendon, and the Charlotte native carried the ball himself for three,17, and ten yards, then for just one, enough for a first and 10 on the Orange 10-yard line.
After Dayes got the ball to the three, the Orange used its timeouts. That proved beneficial, as the defense stopped Dayes on second and goal from the two, and on third down got a huge interception by Rodney Williams for a touchback.
Williams had a very big first half showing, making seven tackles and getting that key interception near the end of the half.
But the Pack still led 14-10 at the half and there was a disparity in stats.
The Wolfpack out-rushed the Orange 103-12, and threw for 158 yards, 70 more than Mahoney could muster. Syracuse’s star receiver, Amba Etta-Tawo, had only one reception for four yards.
It was essentially a two-man show for the Orange receiving corps at that point. Cornelius had three receptions for 60 yards, and Philips had four receptions for 30. Conversely, NC State had four players with at least two receptions, Harmon gaining 22 yards, Cherry with 39, and Nyheim Hines with 62 yards on two receptions.
Syracuse only held onto the ball for 1:07 to start the second half. When NC State got the ball back, it only had the ball for :37. The difference is, the Wolfpack took the ball 80 yards on only two plays to take a 21-10 lead.
Harmon had added to his total with a 68- yard reception from Finley.
Anything You Can Do…
The Orange wasn’t going away, though. In fact, Syracuse did the Wolfpack one better. In two plays, the Orange went 82 yards, with 81 of them coming on a touchdown pass from Mahoney to Etta-Tawo. With 12:39 left in the third quarter, it was NC State 21, Syracuse 17.
Syracuse, riding high on the big play, forced the Wolfpack to punt on its next possession. On fourth and six, Sean Riley broke through the line to block the kick, giving the Orange the ball on the NC State 17-yard line. The Dome was rocking at this point.
The crowd quieted down soon after, as Mahoney lost three on a keeper,then missed a connection with Philips and passed for negative yardage to Etta-Tawo. The Orange settled for another field goal from Cole Murphy, bringing Syracuse within one point of the Wolfpack at 21-20.
Finley and NC State answered over the next 7:34, slicing through the Orange defense in chunks, with passes to Hines, Cherry and Harmon. The Wolfpack mixed in some rushes from Dayes for good measure, including a 20 yard run down the right sideline for the score.
At this point, Dayes had rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He would finish with 108 yards on 27 carries.
The 14-play, 86-yard drive put NC State up 28-20. That was the score at the end of three quarters of play.
Last Hope Dashed
Syracuse stumbled with another three-and-out with its next possession to start the fourth quarter. After some inefficiency on the next few drives of the game for both teams, Syracuse appeared to be in possession to tie the game after a long ball from Mahoney to Cornelius down the right side. A two-point conversion would do the trick. But the touchdown was called back due to an illegal blocking penalty. You could feel that this was the key turning point in the game.
“There were some critical calls that didn’t go our way, that’s part of the game,” Babers said. “We won’t cry over spilled milk.”
Cherry on Top
NC State eventually put the game away with big passes to Samuels and Cherry, and a third touchdown run for Dayes from 13 yards out.
They advanced to 5-5, 2-4 in the ACC, on the year with the 35-20 victory in the Dome. Syracuse fell to 4-6, and 2-4 in the ACC.
“That was a football game,” Babers said. “We were playing well into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the football game.”
The Wolfpack, now one win away from bowl eligibility, gets Miami at home next week.
NC State, after starting the season 4-1, had suffered four consecutive losses. Aside from their loss at Louisville, the three other losses were decided by seven points or less.
“I’m very proud of the resiliency of our football team,” NCState head coach Dave Doeren said. “As you mentioned, losing four of our five games. They were able to stick together and I’m really proud of what they did today.”
Syracuse has the Florida State Seminoles coming to the Carrier Dome next Saturday. The Orange would have to beat the #15/17 Seminoles then win at Pitt to get to six wins and a guaranteed bowl shot. The Panthers upset #3 Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday.
When Babers was asked whether Dungey will be available next week, he didn’t seem optimistic.
“It’s probably doubtful,” Babers said.