Orange Defense Leads to Syracuse Upset of Virginia Tech




SYRACUSE, N.Y. (  Syracuse broke open a 17-17 contest with back-to-back touchdowns and finished with a 30-17 victory against #17/19 Virginia Tech in the Carrier Dome. Quarterback Eric Dungey led the way, completing 28-of-53 for 311 yards and a touchdown. He also established career-best efforts carrying the ball with 24 carries for 106 yards and a score.

The Orange defense held a Hokie offensive unit that came into the game averaging 39.4 points per game to a season-low 17 points. Safety Daivon Ellison led the way with 11 tackles and linebacker Zaire Franklin chipped in with 10 stops.

When Virginia Tech tied the game at 17-17, Syracuse coach Dino Babers' squad didn't blink. Dungey engineered a 17-play, 75-yard drive that featured a fourth-down conversion from the Virginia Tech 37. Dungey put on the finishing touches by diving in from the one. Syracuse regained the lead, 24-17, with 7:56 left.

The Orange defense then forced Virginia Tech to punt and Brisley Estime scampered 20 yards with the return, giving Syracuse the ball at the Hokie 37. Following an incomplete pass, three straight Syracuse runs had the Orange in the end zone again. Dontae Strickland carried it in from 16 yards away and Murphy's fourth extra point put the hosts up 30-17 with 5:23 left.

Virginia Tech last effort to get back into the contest ended in a turnover. After Evans scrambled for six yards, Chris Slayton stripped the ball and De'Jon Wilson recovered at the Hokie 47. The Orange ran out the clock for the upset victory.

Syracuse scored first for the fourth time in five games. Eric Dungy completed four straight passes to start the game, the fourth on a third-and-four from the Syracuse 42. It found the hands of Ervin Phillips and resulted in a 58-yard touchdown.

Virginia Tech answered midway through the first quarter. Joey Slye's 36-yard field goal narrowed the Syracuse margin to 7-3 with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

The Orange's second score came even quicker thean the first. On the first play of the second quarter and the second play of the possession, Dungy pitched to Strickland who stopped and lofted a perfect pass to Brisley Estime. After hauling it in, Estime outraced his Hokie defender and finished off the 84-yard play in paydirt. It represented the longest play of the season to date for Syracuse and gave the Orange a 14-3 advantage.

Syracuse had one more chance to score in the first half and took advantage of it. Following a Virginia Tech punt and starting from its own 27, Syracuse used back-to-back Dungy-to-Estime completions of 9 and 12 yards to advance to midfield with 36 seconds before the intermission. Dungey then found Steve Ismael for 16 yards. After consecutive incomplete passes, Cole Murphy booted a career-long 51-yard field goal with four seconds left to take a 17-3 lead into the half.

The Orange produced one of its best defensive halves of the season, limiting the Hokies to just three points in the first 30 minutes. 

Virginia Tech made a statement drive to start the second half, marching 83 yards in nine plays, a possession completed by Jared Evans 12-yard pass to Isaiah Ford. Syracuse's Kendall Coleman blocked the extra-point try by Slye to keep the Orange ahead, 17-9.

Syracuse's defense rose to the occassion again later in the third quarter. With the Hokies having advanced to the Syracuse seven, Rodney Williams intercepted an Evans pass in the end zone to halt the drive.

When Syracuse's Murphy missed a 51-yard, 3-point attempt, Virginia Tech took advantage. The Hokies drove 66 yards in nine plays and Evans tossed his second TD pass of the afternoon, this time a 10-yarder to Bucky Hodges. Trailing 17-15, Virginia Tech went for two and Evans teamed with Chris Cunningham to tie things up, setting up the strong Syracuse finish.

Phillips finished with 11 catches for 139 yards while Brisley Estime had eight receptions for 131 yards.

Evans was 20-of-33 for 307 yards and two touchdowns for Virginia Tech.He also carried the ball 11 times for 61 yards. Ford had eight catches for 83 yards.