HARTFORD, Conn. (Cuse.com) -- A game that opened with typical Syracuse offensive pyrotechnics was secured by the Orange defense in a 31-24 victory at Connecticut on Saturday.
Eric Dungey and Amba Etta-Tawo teamed on two long touchdown passes in the first 4:12 of the game and Cordell Hudson returned an interception 22 yards for a score near the end of the third quarter for Syracuse. Both teams evened their records at 2-2.
Etta-Tawo finished with a school-record 270 yards receiving on 12 catches and two touchdowns. He broke the previous single-game mark of 249 receiving yards set by Scott Schwedes against Boston College in 1985. Etta-Tawo also posted his second 200-yard receving game and became the first Orange player to accomplish the feat. He set a SU standard for 100-yard receiving games in a season with his fourth (in four games).
The Orange opened the game's scoring when Dungy connected with Etta-Tawo on a 57-yard scoring streak less than one minute into the contest. On Syracuse's next possession, the two joined up again, this time on a 30-yard touchdown play. By the end of the second series, Dungey was 5-of-6 for 118 yards -- all to Etta-Tawo. Cole Murphy's two extra points put the Orange in front, 14-0.
After Syracuse dominated the first quarter, Connecticut turned the tables in the second period. The Huskies put together three time-consuming drives and scored touchdowns on their last two possessions of the half, to knot the contest at 14-14. Connecticut had the ball for 10:32 of the 15-minute period and had series of 12, 12 and nine plays. Ron Johnson scored first, on a two-yard plunge and Arkeel Newsome ran in from six yards out with 34 seconds left in the half. Bobby Puyol's two conversions tied the score.
The Orange took over on their own 26. Dungey found Etta-Tawo for 24 yards, Donte Strickland for 13 and Steve Ishmael for seven before calling a timeout with two ticks remaining and the ball on the Connecticut 30. After two Connecticut time outs, Murphy kicked a successful, 47-yard three-pointer on the last play before the intermission, giving Syracuse a 17-14 advantage.
Hudson got an assist from Zaire Franklin on his first theft of the season. With Connecticut facing third-and-eight from its own 8-yard line, Husky quarterback Bry Shirreffs had his throw tipped by Franklin into the hands of Hudson, who ran the ball to paydirt.
Connecticut had another chance in the fourth quarter after pulling off a successful fake field goal. Holder Tyler Davis took the snap and threw to a wide-open Tommy Myers for 17 yards and a first down at the Syracuse eight.Three straight running plays moved the ball to the two-yard line. On fourth and goal, Shirreffs kept the ball but was met by Franklin at the one, halting the drive.
With Syracuse backed up deep in its own end, Dungey and Etta-Tawo went to work again, converting a third-and-seven with a 59-yard pass and catch. It gave the Orange some room to work and Dungey ultimately finished off his team's longest series of the game by keeping on the option from six yards out. The march was 12 plays, covered 99 yards and took 3:58 off the game clock.
Connecticut completed the game's scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to Tyler Davis with 33 seconds left.
Dungey completed 26-of-40 for 407 yards and two touchdowns. Erv Phillips had six catches for 55 yards. Donte Strickland led Syracuse rushers with 55 yards on 14 carries.
Franklin, Parris Bennett and Daivon Ellison each had 14 tackles to pace the Syracuse defense. They represented career-high efforts for each player. Franklin's total included 2.5 tackles for losses.