Syracuse scores 31-unanswered points in Chippewas’ first loss
Syracuse scored 31-unanswered points to seal the win against Central Michigan Saturday in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange defeated the Chippewas 41-17, handing CMU (2-1) its first loss of the season.
CMU started the first quarter with 10 points off of two Syracuse turnovers, but a pick-six and an interception late in the first half swung the momentum to the Orange.
The Chippewas recorded their ninth interception of the year in a game filled with turnovers and sloppy play. Both teams combined for five turnovers by halftime. CMU had one interception while Syracuse had two, and each team lost a fumble in the first half.
"I'm disappointed," head coach John Bonamego said. "In the second half, you saw inability to finish drives and we gave up about three or four big plays, which really hurt us."
After a Syracuse field goal early in the first quarter, sophomore linebacker DeAndre Dill stripped the ball from the Orange's running back and Mitch Stanitzek recovered the fumble to give CMU an opportunity to score.
Less than a minute later, quarterback Shane Morris found Cameron Cole for a 56-yard receiving touchdown to take the first lead of the game. It was Cole’s first career catch and touchdown.
Cole popped the ball up in the air later in the first quarter, allowing the Syracuse defense to run in a pick-six and tie the game at 10 going into the second quarter.
Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward responded with a 14-yard touchdown reception, giving the Chippewas a 17-10 lead to start the second quarter.
Syracuse killed CMU's momentum with back-to-back touchdowns from running back Dontae Strickland to end the half at 24-17. The Orange scored 14 points off two interceptions from Morris, who struggled to complete passes without wide recievers Corey Willis and Brandon Childress.
Syracuse added a pair of touchdowns and a field goal in the second half to pull away with the lead.
Romello Ross tried to add another CMU touchdown with six minutes left in regulation, but he fumbled on the one-yard line and a touchback was called.
Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey finished with 279 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. He also added 105 rushing yards for the Orange.
"Eric Dungey is a great quarterback for that offense because of his ability to move his legs; we saw that late in the game," Bonamego said. "He is a tremendous competitor and (Syracuse has) a lot of good, talented young receivers."
Morris completed just 22-of-45 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. He was replaced by backup quarterback Tony Poljan late in the fourth quarter.
Senior defensive end Joe Ostman emphasized the importance of looking ahead to CMU's next contest rather than dwelling on Saturday's loss.
“We’ve got to get better (and) we’ve got to stay together as a team,” Ostman said. “It’s one loss. Adversity is going to come. Whether we’re winning or we’re losing, we have to stay together as a team. We’ll make the corrections and be ready to go next week.”
The Chippewas return to Kelly/Shorts Stadium for their Mid-American Conference opener on Sept. 23 against Miami (Ohio).
The RedHawks are 1-2 after a 21-17 home loss to Cincinnati on Saturday. They fell to Marshall, 31-26, in their season opener then topped Austin Peay, 31-10. Last year, Miami defeated the Chippewas a 37-17 in Oxford, Ohio, snapping CMU's three-game win streak.
“We still have a lot of football in front of us,” Bonamego said. “We’ve just got to go back to work tomorrow — everybody, myself, coaches, players — and look at this objectively, take things to heart, accept the coaching, take the criticism, make the corrections and just go out and try to be a better football team next week.”