SU Football: Syracuse vs NC State

Syracuse football fails to find rhythm without Dungey, falls to N.C. State

SU registers just 28 rushing yards in 35-20 loss to Wolfpack at the Carrier Dome

The odds of Syracuse playing in a bowl game became slimmer on Saturday. After being toppled by Clemson in Death Valley last weekend, the Syracuse Orange (4-6, 2-4 ACC) lost at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 35-20.

“We were playing well into the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win the football game,” SU head coach Dino Babers said following the game. "We won’t cry over spilled milk. I think that going down the road, that team and us were evenly matched and in years to come, I’m sure it’s going to be a really good rivalry.”

Photo: Seth Coulter

Forced to play without its starter, Eric Dungey, backup quarterback Zach Mahoney displayed some promise, leading Syracuse to a touchdown on its first possession and later completing an 81-yard touchdown to star wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, but ultimately could not handle the swarming Wolfpack (5-5, 2-4 ACC) defense. Outside of two long completions, the Syracuse offense totaled just 91 yards of offense.

No Dungey meant a change in tempo for SU. Syracuse’s fast-paced offense was notably slower against N.C. State and the Wolfpack took advantage, getting quick stops and dominating time of possession. N.C. State was 10-for-18 on third down conversions and controlled the ball for 41:18—compared to Syracuse’s 18:42.

When asked about Dungey’s status for next week following the game, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said that the sophomore is “probably doubtful.”

On defense, the Orange struggled to get off the field in key third down situations and allowed NC State to rack up 544 total yards in the contest.  In comparison to Syracuse’s 10 first downs, the Wolfpack converted a whopping 27. There were also a handful of tackling mishaps and questionable calls by the officials which haunted Syracuse in the end. SU had a potential game tying touchdown with just over 10 minutes left to play called back due to a controversial chop blocking penalty.

The game was a tale of two running games, one of which was almost nonexistent. Syracuse running back Dontae Strickland was held in check, rushing for just 28 yards on 12 carries, while freshman Moe Neal gained no yards on two carries. On the other side, N.C. State tailback Matthew Dayes shined, scoring 3 touchdowns while finishing with 119 yards from scrimmage.

“The [N.C. State] coach obviously did a good job in watching film on us and stopping the run,” Strickland said following the game. "But we had good rushes, we just couldn’t get it started today.”

Syracuse’s bowl hopes took a significant blow following the loss. The Orange must win its remaining two games to secure an automatic bowl berth, a steep task as its set to face Florida State and Pittsburgh—who upset No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night.

“The team is focused on winning,” Syracuse junior linebacker Zaire Franklin said following the game. “We’ve got two games left to win to get into the postseason. That’s how we feel about it.”

The Orange will play its last home game of the season on November 19 against Florida State (7-3, 4-3 ACC). Kick-off is set for 3:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. 

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