No. 17 Syracuse Takes Down No. 15 WVU in Camping World Bowl
By Adam Unger
CitrusTV Football Reporter
ORLANDO, Fla. – It was a simple play. Senior quarterback Eric Dungey threw a shovel pass to sophomore tight end Chris Elmore. The play didn’t pick up a first down and, on the surface, it shouldn’t be of note.
But it cemented Eric Dungey as Syracuse’s all-time passing leader. After becoming the career total offense leader earlier this season, Dungey’s 303 passing yards in the Camping World Bowl catapulted him past Ryan Nassib in the Syracuse record books.
“You’re only as good as your best receiver,” Dungey said. “You’re only as good as your line. It’s a full 11 people, so that record is for everybody.”
The Oregon native won MVP honors as he led No. 17 Syracuse (10-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast) to a 34-18 win over No. 15 West Virginia (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) in the Camping World Bowl. Syracuse faced a WVU squad that was without its NFL-caliber quarterback Will Grier.
West Virginia got onto the scoreboard first with an Evan Staley field goal. Then, the Orange offense came to life thanks to a new face at running back: Oklahoma transfer Abdul Adams scored Syracuse’s first touchdown in his Orange debut.
“The line did a great job up front,” Adams said. “It was definitely a special moment. You know, to embrace it and embrace it with the line. I’m just so grateful.”
The old Big East rivals traded blows throughout the second quarter. Syracuse led 14-12 at halftime. After two more field goals from Evan Staley and one from Andre Szmyt, WVU led 18-17 at the end of the third quarter. That was the Mountaineers’ last lead of the game.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Syracuse offense found the end zone for the third time. Former Michigan State wide receiver Trishton Jackson’s first catch in Orange found pay dirt.
“I thought it was extremely unselfish of the 2018 team to include individuals that hadn’t been with us the entire way and to play unselfishly and not care about who’s going to get the credit,” head coach Dino Babers said.
On the ensuing West Virginia possession, sophomore Allen Stritzinger picked off Jack Allison to set the Orange up once again. Szmyt put the Orange up by nine with about 13 minutes to go.
Momentum carried Orange down the stretch and Eric Dungey continued to make plays. Syracuse’s all-time passing leader found Moe Neal on 1st and 10. The junior running back took the ball 42 yards to get SU a first and goal.
“I think I might have been getting tackled. The ball came out a little wobbly; I tried to muscle it to Moe [Neal],” Dungey said. “And he just made something happen. It’s just awesome to see that guys are blocking downfield and never giving up on a play.”
The play set up a Jarveon Howard touchdown run from the four yards out. Syracuse had scored as many points in the first 5:01 of the fourth quarter as they had in the prior three quarters. Neither team scored again after that five-minute stretch.
“I 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. “The trophy is really really heavy and I’m glad we got it.”
The 2018 season is one for the books for Syracuse. It’s the first 10-win season for SU since 2001. Dino Babers’ scheme and culture have hit their stride. Adams, Jackson, and redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Devito are among the Orange’s returning talent for 2019.