Packed Carrier Dome Helps Football Stun No. 2 Clemson
By Nicole Hansen
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After kneeling on first and second down, quarterback Eric Dungey knelt for a third time. The play clock continued to tick down. Before it even hit zero, players charged the field. Fans jumped onto the field to celebrate. The game was officially over.
15 years. 5,452 days. That’s how long it had been since Syracuse beat a team ranked in the AP Top 10. That is, before Friday night, when the Orange stunned the No. 2 Clemson Tigers 27-24 in front of a packed Carrier Dome crowd.
“This is what it looks like when we put together a full game against a good opponent,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said after the game. “We finally decided as an offense, defense, special teams, to finally put a game together.”
Even though the Carrier Dome was not a sellout crowd, the energy was palpable the entire game. Head coach Dino Babers emphasized that’s how he wants it to be every game.
“We have a dome,” Babers stressed. “No one else has that. We’re loud. We’re crazy up here. And that’s the atmosphere that it should be every single time you come to the Carrier Dome. It should be a very, very, very difficult place to play.”
Linebacker Parris Bennett agreed the crowd helped the defense throughout the game.
“Honestly, it was loud,” Bennett said. “Third down, rocking, you could tell those guys…they could hear it, they could feel it. And we fed off the energy. I felt like our guys felt more confident, felt like everybody was rooting for us and cheering for us and believing in us.”
The Orange had its fair share of struggles. Defensive backs Jordan Martin and Scoop Bradshaw both left the game with injuries in the first quarter. Neither one of them reentered the game. Bradshaw eventually returned to the sidelines with his arm in a sling.
Babers said this gave some of the younger players an opportunity to discover their role on this Syracuse team.
“So many times, especially with young people, they’re like, ‘Oh okay, I get a chance to play now, I’m going to make a play’,” Babers explained. “Their attitude is totally wrong…If you’re a part of the underbelly of the team, and now you get an opportunity to play more, your attitude needs to be that, ‘I just want to do my job’.”
Penalties were also a huge factor in the game on both sides. Syracuse had 12 penalties totaling 100 yards, while the Tigers had 11 penalties for 112 yards. Both teams’ momentum suffered on big drives throughout the game because of the stoppages and loss of yards.
But the Orange persevered. Franklin said it was a memorable win for the senior class who have dealt with a lot in their time in orange.
“Everything that we’ve been through these last four years,” Franklin said. “The lowest of the low. Back when we lost eight in a row, and everybody was leaving, and then coach fired, and the future’s uncertain…I’m just happy that…the seniors could be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor while we’re still here.”
The Orange take its two-game win streak down to Miami to take on the Hurricanes next Saturday. But before that, Babers was very clear on how he intended to celebrate this week’s win.
“I’ll probably go home and hopefully get fried noodles,” he answered with a smile.