Dungey scores 3 times, Syracuse beats UConn 51-21
Dungey rushed for 77 yards and three touchdowns, passed for 286 yards and two more scores without a turnover, and Syracuse beat former Big East foe Connecticut 51-21 on Saturday to continue its early season surge.
The Orange, who have not trailed this season, have won their first four games for the first time since 1991 and only the fourth time since the end of World War II.
"It felt really good to be out there," said Dungey, who sat out the second half of last week's 30-7 win over Florida State with blurred vision. "I try to be the best leader I can. I think a lot of these guys are starting to buy in. That's just awesome to see. We've just got to keep working, a lot of improvement to make still." Syracuse entered the game averaging 49 points and with a showdown next week at No. 3 Clemson it was imperative to keep rolling against a struggling foe. Connecticut (1-3) entered the game ranked last in points allowed per game (55.7) and yards allowed per game (673.3).
"Some people call it a trap game," said Orange coach Dino Babers, in his third season. "It gets us to our goal with an opportunity to maybe win one more."
UConn's defensive depth chart for Saturday listed nine freshmen and two redshirt freshmen on the two-deep, and that inexperience proved costly again. The Orange scored rapidly on their first three possessions and stormed to a 21-0 lead.
Dungey started the surge with a typical Orange drive — 10 plays, 67 yards in 2:51. He completed four passes for 45 yards before scoring from the 1. After a three-and-out by the Huskies, Syracuse went 75 yards on seven plays in 90 seconds and gained a 14-0 lead on Dungey's 9-yard run up the middle. Dungey's 7-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Gabe Horan, the first catch of his college career, boosted the lead to 21.
Dungey was 21-for-27 passing before Tommy DeVito replaced him in the fourth. Moe Neal had 116 yards rushing, the first Orange tailback to eclipse the 100-yard mark this season, and Sean Riley chipped in with 290 all-purpose yards.
Syracuse outgained UConn 636-395 for the game as the Huskies struggled on both sides of the ball.
"We bounced off people, we missed tackles, we've got to get stronger," Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said. "Some of that is just youth and it's going to take time. People don't want to hear it, but I thought they competed. We just have to practice, continue to get better. The kids want to do that."
The one-two Connecticut punch of senior quarterback David Pindell and sophomore tailback Kevin Mensah had combined to average 206 yards rushing a game in the first three games. But the Syracuse defense limited them to 87 yards on 16 carries in the first half as the Orange built a 31-14 lead. Both finished with 76 yards rushing and all but one yard of Pindell's total came on a 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
"We just had a good jump on the ball," Syracuse defensive end Kendall Coleman said. "We were able to recognize plays and jump on the ball."
Pindell also hit Zavier Scott with a 2-yard TD pass in the second, but he was harassed repeatedly by the Orange defense, which finished with six sacks, three hurries and one interception.
"I think we did some good things, but some things we just got to clean up, be a little more consistent," said Pindell, who was 17 of 24 for 151 yards passing. "We knew we could push the ball down the field on them if we do our thing and do what our coaches planned for us."
Riley gave the Orange a 24-point cushion with an electrifying 69-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the third. It was the first punt return for a score by the Orange since Brisly Estime returned one 59 yards at Florida State in October 2015.
Riley added a 49-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Connecticut: The Huskies have a lot of work ahead, but while the defense continues to struggle the offense showed it can be effective. It just needs some consistency. On UConn's first three offensive possessions, Pindell lost a fumble and the Huskies had two three-and-outs, then scored two straight touchdowns.
Syracuse: The Orange won their previous two games convincingly and put up 55 points in the season opener. Last week's 30-7 win over struggling Florida State provided more confidence, but the Orange will get a gauge of how far they've progressed when they play at Clemson next week. Syracuse upset the then-No. 2 Tigers a year ago in the Carrier Dome, something Babers can use to prepare for the next game, but also lost 54-0 the last time they visited during Babers' first season.
Connecticut: Hosts Cincinnati next Saturday.
Syracuse: Travels to face No. 3 Clemson next Saturday.