ORLANDO, Fla. – Record-setting quarterback Eric Dungey added to his career totals, completing 21-of-30 for 303 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 17 Syracuse (10-3) to a 34-18 victory against No. 15 West Virginia (8-4) in the Camping World Bowl on Friday, Dec. 27.
Dungey was named the game's MVP and the Syracuse captured the Charles H. Rohe Trophy, named in honor of the former executive director of Florida Citrus Sports, with the victory.
WHAT IT MEANT
"Couldn't be more proud of the 2018 seniors to end in this fashion against a rival opponent that goes so far back in our history," Babers said. "Can't say enough about the Camping World Bowl and the way they've treated us here, and the trophy is really, really heavy and I'm glad we got it."
TRANSFERS OF POWER
Running back Abdul Adams made a big splash in his Syracuse debut, scoring two first-half touchdowns to help the Orange out to a 14-12 halftime lead. Adams, a transfer from Oklahoma, became eligible following the end of Syracuse's regular season. He carried the ball eight times for 19 yards against the Mountaineers.
Wide receiver Trishton Jackson, who transferred to Syracuse from Michigan State, also made an impact in his first game in Orange. Jackson caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Dungey and finished the game with three receptions for 27 yards.
A SLOW START FOR BOTH OFFENSES
A game billed as an offensive showdown started off script. Syracuse went three-and-out on its first two possessions and West Virginia did the same on its initial drive.
The Mountaineers put the first points on the board when Evan Staley kicked a 28-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the first quarter to give West Virginia the lead.
The Orange answered promptly, moving 91 yards in 10 plays. Syracuse maneuvered into scoring position thanks to a 44-yard deep ball from Dungey to Jamal Custis that put the Orange at the West Virginia 3-yard line. Adams finished the march with a 4-yard plunge up the middle.
A turnover at the end of the first quarter helped West Virginia regain the edge early in the second period. A Dungey pass was intercepted by Kenny Robinson deep in Syracuse territory, and four plays later Kennedy McKoy powered in from three yards out. Staley's extra-point try hit the upright and the Mountaineers led, 9-7.
On West Virginia's next possession, the Mountaineers attempted to convert on fourth down, but safety Evan Foster stopped T.J. Simmons short of a first down at the Syracuse 40 to give the ball back to the offense. Dungey took advantage, teaming with Taj Harris on a 19-yard play and an 8-yard completion. A 5-yard targeting penalty was tacked on to the second play to make it first-and-goal Syracuse at the five. Adams gained four yards and then bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out for his second touchdown.
Staley made up for his missed conversion attempt by kicking a 36-yard field goal with 6:33 left in the second quarter to narrow the gap to 14-12 at the intermission.
The third quarter featured a series of field goals. Staley sandwiched kicks of 44 and 49 yards around a 39-yarder from Syracuse All-American and Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt to claim an 18-17 advantage with 3:23 to play in the stanza.
ORANGE FINDS ITS RHYTHM
The Syracuse offense shifted into high gear late in the third quarter, as Dungey quickly moved the Orange into scoring position after Staley's field goal. Dungey connected with Sharod Johnson for 18 yards and Sean Riley for 23 more on consecutive plays that pushed Syracuse into West Virginia territory at the 38-yard line. Dungey then hit Nykeim Johnson for seven yards, ran for five more, and found Custis for 13 yards down to the 13. After two runs were stopped, Dungey completed a 14-yard, back-shoulder throw to Jackson in the end zone. Szmyt's extra point put the Orange back in front again, 24-18.
On West Virginia's first play of the subsequent possession, quarterback Jack Allison's pass was intercepted by defensive back Allen Stritzinger. After a 17-yard run by Donte Strickland the Orange were in the red zone, and Szmyt completed the drive with a 34-yard field goal that extended the Syracuse advantage to 27-18.
Syracuse added to its margin by scoring on its third straight offensive series. Dungey scrambled out of pressure to find Moe Neal, who turned the catch into a remarkable 42-yard gain. On the next play, Jarveon Howard ran up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown that closed the scoring.
DEFENSE STANDS OUT
With Syracuse holding a 16-point advantage, the Orange defense, which turned in a workman-like performance, came up with another big play that helped ice the game. After Allison teamed with David Sills V on a 48-yard passing play that put the ball at the Syracuse 8-yard line, the unit made a stand. The Mountaineers had third-and-goal from the Orange three, but defensive lineman Chris Slayton and linebacker Ryan Guthrie made stops on consecutive running plays to keep West Virginia off the board.
Defensive back Andre Cisco led the Orange with nine total tackles. Foster had eight stops, while Guthrie, linebacker Tyrell Richards and Slayton each ended up with six. Guthrie and Richards also had sacks.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Dungey completed passes to nine different receivers in the game. Custis led the group with five receptions, followed by Harris who had four. Tight end Aaron Hackett and Jackson each hauled in three passes and Nykeim Johnson ended up with two. Neal, Riley, Sharod Johnson and Chris Elmore had one apiece.
New season ticket orders and renewals to watch Orange football in 2019 are being accepted now. Tickets for next season's six-game home slate start at $100 for Syracuse University Young Alumni (Class of 2015 to Class of 2019 graduates) and $125 for the general public. They may be purchased online (Cuse.com/tickets), by phone (888-DOME-TIX) and at the Carrier Dome Box Office (Gate B).
The deadline to renew current season tickets is March 8, 2019.