The Upside- West Virginia | Syracusefan.com

The Upside- West Virginia

SWC75

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- After years of gut punches, SU football is back! We are 10-3 and will be ranked for the first time since Dwight Freeney was in Orange. The players deserve it. The coaches deserve it, (if Doug Marrone was ‘saint’ for getting us to 8-5, what is Dino Babers?). And the fans deserve it.

- Eric Dungey, who did more turn around this program than anyone except maybe Babers, ended his career running a victory play in a bowl game. He wasn’t on crutches, watching us go 4-8. And he and Moe Neal made the play of the year, turning a possible 20 yard sack into a spectacular 42 yard play that set up the touchdown that gave us real command of the game. It was Eric and his class that turned this program around and gave us something we can ll be proud of. His career as a football player here has ended but he will be part of any success we have in subsequent years because he and his teammates made it possible.

- Dungey wound up completing 21 passes to 9 different receivers, (including 3 to tight end Aaron Hackett- imagine that!) for 303 yards and a score. He also ran for 53 positive yards, (31 were taken off from sacks), a couple for first downs and several giving us 6-7 yards on first down, opening up the strategical possibilities for second and third downs. West Virginia actually out-gained us 423-416 but we had 22 first downs to 17 and that wasn’t a small stat.

- Babers called the time out of the year when West Virginia was near our goal line in the first half and they had two receivers stacked along the sideline and nobody bothered to come out and cover them. Then he and his staff made the adjustments that gave Dungey the protection he needed to make plays in the second half when he was on the run the whole first half. They started with the wide splits they normally go for but West Virginia was over-loading one side of the ball. In the second half we went into our goal line offense and started throwing short passes that gave the rushers little time to fight through the blocking. We also ran the ball better and started marching down the field.

- I was afraid that, with the absence of Alton Robinson and McKinley Williams, we’d be too thin in the defensive line and the efforts of our defense might fade as the game went on. Instead, they took over the game, holding West Virginia to just two second half field goals and making the goal line stand that kept us in control of the game. Led by Kendall Coleman and Tyrell Richards, they had 5 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss and an interception.

- Sean Riley had not punt returns but had a 43 yard kick-off return. Andre Szmyt kicked two field goals after being 1 for 3 in the last two games of the regular season to finish with 30, the second most ever and scoring 10 points to bring his total to 151 points, an astronomical total that broke the school record by 23 points. Cole Murphy led with 94 points last year. And, since Darrell Henderson of Memphis pulled a Wil Grier and skipped his team’s bowl game, Andre beat him out for the national scoring lead by a single point, 151-150.

- All 34 points were scored by players who will be on next year’s team.

- Our first three touchdowns were scored by players who were playing their first game for us. Abdul Adams didn’t have spectacular numbers with 20 yards on 8 carries. But both touchdown runs were impressive. On the first he fell onto a West Virginia player but kept all body parts off the ground and reached out to “break the plane”. On the second one he ran over a guy and carried another into the end zone. Then Triston Jackson caught a pass for our third score. Next year has already begun!

- During the locker room interviews, you could hear the SU players singing John Denver’s “Country Roads” about going back to West Virginia. It was kind of mean spirited but clever. But I prefer this song:

10-3 and what a sight to see!!!!

LET’S GO ORANGE!!!
 
I had no idea about the Adams and Jackson situation, or who they were. Unfortunately, we watched the game at a friend’s home who always keeps the sound too low (he has the ears of a hawk) so we missed the commentators talk about them. Ah me, I swim in ignorance!
 
Congratulations on a great win! The 2nd half was a total team effort of scoring on offense and shutting them down on defense. I finally got to see the game through the replay in Spanish on the ESPN app. Quite a different experience.
 

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