It wasn’t always pretty, but Syracuse (3-0, 1-0) played staunch defense to beat Florida State, 30-7, this afternoon inside a sweltering Carrier Dome. The win was the team's first against the Seminoles since 1966.
The heat posed some problems for the visitors in the form of cramps, which forced multiple game stoppages. Syracuse players seemed unaffected by the playing conditions however and showed their prowess up front, dominating the Florida State offensive line for four sacks and numerous rushed throws.
Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois was noticeably shaken up by the pass rush, often preparing to get hit before he threw the football. The junior out of Orlando, Florida, struggled to string together long drives, ending the day with just 178 yards passing and an interception.
The Syracuse offense, which earned just 172 yards and struggled in the red zone in the first half, looked ready to crumble after senior quarterback Eric Dungey was sidelined late in the second quarter because of a late, helmet-to-helmet hit as he was scrambling.
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said Dungey was taken out due to blurred vision as a result of being poked in the eye, a promising sign for the Orange that indicates it likely isn’t a long-term injury.
Backup redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito bounced back from a disappointing showing last week against Wagner and showed confidence and poise in racking up 144 yards on 11 of 15 throwing to go along with a rushing and passing touchdown in place of Dungey.
The Orange struggled out of the gate, scoring just six points in the first half, all courtesy of freshman kicker Andre Szmyt. But on the other side of the ball, the Syracuse defense held the Seminoles to just 110 yards of total offense and picked off Francois with 5:36 left in the half, leading to Szmyt’s second field goal.
A tale of two halves, DeVito broke through for a three-yard rushing touchdown 8:05 into the third quarter, opening the scoring floodgate. A little over three minutes later, DeVito found his tight end senior Ravian Pierce for a three-yard passing touchdown, putting Syracuse up 20-0.
Following another Szmyt field goal, Florida State finally broke the shut out after an eight play, 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter was capped off by a two-yard rushing touchdown for Francois.
Syracuse running back senior Dontae Strickland contributed another touchdown via a 13-yard run late in the fourth quarter, the cherry on top of an offensive explosion in the second half.
The win snaps a 10-game losing streak to Florida State and a five-game losing streak in ACC play going back to last year. It also keeps Syracuse undefeated at the Carrier Dome this year, something they can continue next week against a much weaker opponent, UConn (0-2, 0-1). That game will take place at 4 p.m. next Saturday.
The biggest question mark now going into next weekend’s game will be the health of Dungey. If he is fit, it’s unlikely DeVito will make the start given Dungey’s performances in Syracuse’s opening two games, but for now, the door is open for DeVito to come in and assert himself.
With the UConn defense giving up an average of 387 passing yards in their opening two games, it could be a big night for whichever quarterback is on the field. For Dungey, it’s a great opportunity to move himself even further up the all-time Syracuse records. Two passing touchdowns would give him sole possession of third-place in school history, and he’s just one rushing touchdown away from sole possession of fifth-place in school history.