Syracuse can’t complete comeback, loses at Florida State, 27-24, despite Eric Dungey playing through injury

first_imgTALLAHASSE, Fla. — Syracuse’s offense, and team, goes as quarterback Eric Dungey goes. Head coach Dino Babers has said as much, calling Dungey the “heartbeat” of the offense.While the Orange is an improved team from a year ago, it heads into November with the same record it had last year. What set back Syracuse a year ago was Dungey missing the last four games of the season with an injury.So far this year, the one thing that’s been holding back Syracuse in its losses is Dungey, and the offense, getting off to slow starts on the road. Dungey has thrown an interception in the first drive in each of SU’s road games this season.Both happened Saturday in Syracuse’s (4-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) 27-24 loss to Florida State (3-5, 3-4). Dungey threw an interception on the first drive, just as he’s done in every road game this season. He left the first drive and went into the locker room to get checked for an injury, just like he did on this weekend last year. When he came back to the sideline, his right foot was heavily taped. It was different from a year ago, though. Because after missing four drives, Dungey started in front of the SU bench, went to talk with Babers and then came back.“I kind of brought him over to me and I asked him, ‘How do you want me to play this?’” Babers said about bringing Dungey back in the game. “And he says, ‘Play it to win. I’m good.’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Considering he was limited we played it really loose. He gave us a good effort, he really did.”The offense was anemic while Dungey was gone. Back-to-back drives ended in three-and-outs, and the next lasted just five plays, leaving the Orange sideline looking lifeless. When he returned he immediately led SU on a scoring drive, injecting a new energy into the offense. But the Orange fell into a hole that was a little too deep without him, and lost to the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium.Dungey looked gimpy when he initially came back on the field. On his second play back, Seminoles defensive end Walvenski Aimé flushed him out of the pocket. Aimé dove and tripped up Dungey as he threw the ball away. Dungey threw his head back and winced as he returned to the huddle.Despite that, though, he seemed to get more comfortable as the game wore on, and SU kept running him. Dungey’s two longest carries went for 30 and 29 yards. Both those runs came on designed keepers on third-and-longs.Immediately after his 30-yard carry, FSU was called for an illegal substitution penalty. As Dungey stood by himself near the edge of the Seminole logo at midfield, looking at the referee making the call, running back Dontae Strickland walked over and high-fived him.“It gave us a lot of energy,” senior wide receiver Ervin Philips said about Dungey returning. “Just to see him fighting. Cause he always fights.”Dungey wasn’t made available to the media postgame because he was receiving treatment. He was seen postgame sporting a grey boot over his right foot.While the defense gave up three big touchdowns, it settled down eventually. Dungey and the offense’s resurgence made it a one-score game before the half.FSU went three-and-out to start the second half, and Dungey took Syracuse down for a field goal. He ran three times on the drive, each time bouncing right back up to set up the next play. Even though he was clearly hurt, he ended with a career-high 109 rushing yards.Both offenses largely stalled after that. Philips dropped two passes. Dungey was stopped short on fourth-and-one near midfield on the next.SU started a drive down 10 with less than seven minutes left in the game, and Dungey masterfully drove the team down the field. On third-and-three from the FSU 12-yard line, he dropped back in the middle of the field, felt pressure and curled out right bursting up the right sideline for a first down. Two plays later, he took the ball in himself for a score, making it a three-point game and setting the school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.“I feel like he did a great job of getting us going when he came back,” senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael said.The Orange got the ball back with 1:23 left in the game, needing three points to tie it. After Syracuse fell into an early third-and-14 hole, Dungey pushed the ball 15 yards downfield to Ishmael. Two more passes to the sideline netted SU another 25 yards, setting the team up for the game-tying field goal opportunity. But Cole Murphy missed the kick, and SU lost as time expired.Two weeks ago, after the Miami game, Babers was asked what felt different between this year’s 4-4 and last year’s 4-4. He said it was the fact that his quarterback was still healthy.Dungey wasn’t fully healthy Saturday and his medical status after this game is up in the air considering the boot on his foot. But his performance against FSU made it clear why Babers felt that way. Two FSU staffers talked as they were leaving the public address announcers’ booth.“That quarterback is one of the smartest players I’ve ever seen,” one said.But despite the progress that SU has made this year, and the progress Dungey made as the game went on, the ghosts of last season — an injured quarterback and a November loss — returned to haunt Syracuse. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 4, 2017 at 4:18 pm Contact Tomer: [email protected] | @tomer_langerlast_img

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