Wake Forest’s offense continued to look night and day from last year’s outfit, but ultimately the Demon Deacons’ defense surrendered too many big plays to keep up with Syracuse in the ACC’s first league game of the season. The Orange, whose only ACC win last year came at Wake Forest, topped the Deacs again Saturday, escaping the Carrier Dome with a 30-17 win to improve to 2-0. Here’s how it all went down:
Player of the game: Making his first career start, in just his second career game, the true freshman Eric Dungey filled in nicely for the injured Terrel Hunt, completing 8 of 13 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 36 yards on the ground. Dungey made a number of big plays in the passing game, hitting Brisly Estime for an 89-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter, before connecting with Steve Ishmael for a 53-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Most importantly, Dungey had no turnovers.
Top play: With 2:01 left in the third quarter, Dungey illustrated great pocket awareness, especially for a freshman. He avoided the Wake Forest rush and got off a long pass to Ishmael, who broke free of a tackle and escaped for the aforementioned 89-yard score to give the Orange a 20-17 lead that they would not relinquish. Honorable mention here to defensive end Donnie Simmons, who notched a 41-yard pick-six in the second quarter to give the Orange an early 13-7 lead.
What the win means for Syracuse: For an Orange team that won just three games last season, a 2-0 start is a nice place to be. Dungey performed well against a good defense in his first career start, and that has to be comforting to the staff as they ready for another season without Hunt under center. Central Michigan comes to town next weekend, and Orange fans have every reason to think Syracuse should be 3-0 entering the Sept. 26 contest against LSU.
What the loss means for Wake Forest: No one figured it would be easy just yet for Wake Forest in Dave Clawson’s second year, and the Deacs’ offensive progress has to be applauded. Still, this was a winnable game for the visitors, who were particularly stout defensively in the red zone but who turned the ball over three times -- all on John Wolford interceptions -- undoing an offensive performance that saw the Deacs out-gain the Orange by a 419-370 yard margin. Wolford completed 30 of 45 passes for 373 yards and a touchdown while rushing for one more score, but the turnovers were a killer -- as were the big plays given up by the defense.