After a close three quarters, the Syracuse Orange used 17 unanswered points to earn a victory in Orlando for their 10th of the season.
Orange County lived up to its name on Friday night.
Quarterback Eric Dungey threw for 303 yards in his final collegiate contest, leading his Syracuse Orange to a 34-18 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the 2018 Camping World Bowl. With their 10th victory of the season, the Orange (10-3) have reached the double-digit win landmark for the first time since 2001.
“These guys really wanted to win their 10th game,” Orange head coach told ESPN’s Quint Kessenich after the game. “This was a physical group that we played against. First half was anybody’s half, close game….I think we met the physical challenge we needed to do to win the game.”
“(It’s) twice as good as a nine-win season. Two digits instead of one!”
In victory, Syracuse staved off a resilient West Virginia team missing starting quarterback Will Grier. Despite the NFL Draft prospect skipping out, the Mountaineers’ offense was expected to be headlined by receiver David Sills V, the Big 12’s leader with 15 touchdowns. Sills, however, was mostly held in check until the final stanzas, full of Mountaineer desperation.
The lack of Sills heroics perhaps kept the score at a relative stalemate after three quarters, as West Virginia (8-4) led 18-17. With backup quarterback Jack Allison getting the start for the Mountaineers, they only managed one touchdown, a three-yard Kennedy McKoy run that was set up by Kenny Robinson’s interception. Though he missed the extra point, Evan Staley built the Mountaineer lead with four field goals, his longest being a 49-yard strike in the third.
Syracuse, meanwhile, bided their time and stayed afloat with a pair of first-half touchdowns by Abdul Adams. His first score, from four yards out, was the result of a 91-yard trek, a successful conversion of Syracuse’s lone third down on the drive. An Oklahoma transfer, Adams was making his Syracuse debut. He would also score from one-yard out, helping the Orange escape with a 14-12 halftime lead.
? First score in a 'Cuse uniform for Abdul Adams pic.twitter.com/WuytgQsg8q
— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) December 29, 2018
As West Virginia kicked their way to the lead, Dungey capped off the third quarter with a steady drive to the end zone. The Orange would take the lead for good on the first play of the fourth, a 14-yard Dungey score to Trishton Johnson. West Virginia never recovered, as the next play from scrimmage featured an Allison interception to Allen Stritzinger. The Orange only mustered Andre Szmyt’s second field goal, but a quick three-and-out, capped off by a Kendall Coleman sack, allowed them to start the sealer.
Three plays after getting the ball back, Dungey tossed his way out of a sack via desperation. Moe Neal made the grab behind the line and dodged Mountaineer defenders en route to the four-yard line. Jarveon Howard scored on the very next play, creating the final margin.
Ladies and gentlemen, the most Eric Dungey play of all time: pic.twitter.com/zpJNrrJi0b
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) December 29, 2018
The win over a former Big East foe in West Virginia is the Orange’s fourth consecutive bowl victory, building on a streak last touched upon in the 2013 Texas Bowl. It’s also a triumphant way for Dungey to end his Syracuse career. Ending the night with 9,340 passing yards, the senior departs as the Orange’s all-time leader, passing Ryan Nassib.
“He means everything. The guy is walking out of here with every record there is,” Babers said. “There’s going to be tall tales told about him to people’s grandkids for a long, long time