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SYRACUSE, N.Y.- The Syracuse football team dominated Rhode Island in its season opener on Friday night, beating the Rams by a final score of 47-0 at the Carrier Dome.
The 47-point win for Syracuse (1-0) over Rhode Island (0-1) is its largest margin of victory in a season opener since 2000 when the Orange defeated Buffalo 63-7.
Freshman quarterback Eric Dungey led the offensive charge for Syracuse after senior quarterback Terrel Hunt exited with a lower-body injury in the first quarter. Dungey finished the contest going 10-of-17 for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Both of Dungey's touchdowns were tossed to sophomore hybrid back Ervin Philips, who finished with 41 receiving yards that came from his two touchdown receptions.
The freshmen running back trio of Jordan Fredericks, Dontae Strickland and Jordan Hill combined for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Fredericks led all running backs with 101 rushing yards and a touchdown. For the Orange, Fredericks and Strickland became the first Syracuse true freshman running backs to run for a touchdown in a season opener since Damien Rhodes did so in 2002 against BYU.
Sophomore Zaire Franklin guided a strong defensive effort from Syracuse, leading the Orange with six total tackles, including two tackles for a combined loss of 16 yards. The Orange forced four turnovers in the first half alone, controlling every Rams' offensive possession from start to finish.
The Orange defense was dominant early against Rhode Island, recording three takeaways in the opening 4:04 of the contest. 'Cuse got the scoring started quickly in the first quarter as sophomore cornerback Corey Winfield stepped in front of a pass from Rhode Island quarterback Paul Mroz, bringing it back 24 yards for the touchdown.
Syracuse scored its second touchdown on the first collegiate pass attempt from Dungey. The freshman found Philips, who ran it from 32 yards out into the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown. Dungey became the second true freshman in his Orange debut to throw a touchdown pass and the 10th true freshman to take snaps for Syracuse since freshman became eligible in 1972.
Sophomore kicker Cole Murphy kicked home a 23-yard field goal at the 8:53 mark in the second quarter to deliver the Orange a 17-0 lead. Syracuse then forced its fourth fumble on the next Rhode Island drive, which was followed by the second Dungey to Philips touchdown. Philips caught the ball near the pylon from nine yards out, diving into the end zone for the score to put 'Cuse up 24-0 with 7:56 left in the first half.
The Orange ended the first half with a 74-yard punt return from junior Brisly Estime to take a 31-0 lead into the locker room. Estime's punt return for a touchdown was the first for Syracuse since 2003. The 31 points from Syracuse was its most first half points since 2013 against Tulane.
'Cuse picked up where it left off in the second half as Fredericks scored his first collegiate touchdown from 13 yards out, making a spin move at the goal line to beat Rhody for the score. Capped off by a Murphy extra point, Syracuse controlled a 38-0 lead at the 10:03 mark in the third quarter. The Orange tacked on two more points after Mroz caught the deflection of his own pass in the Rhode Island end zone, resulting in a Rams' safety, giving 'Cuse a 40-0 lead headed into the fourth.
Strickland eventually scored his first collegiate touchdown in the fourth after breaking out for a 21-yard rush to left side for the score. Syracuse took down Rhode Island by a final score of 47-0, which is the first shutout for the Orange since defeating Wake Forest 13-0 in 2013.
GAME NOTES: Freshman Eric Dungey became the second true freshman in his Orange debut to throw a touchdown pass and the 10th true freshman to take snaps for Syracuse since freshman became eligible in 1972. Freshmen Jordan Fredericks and Dontae Strickland became the first Syracuse true freshman running backs to run for a touchdown in a season opener since Damien Rhodes did so in 2002 against BYU. Sophomore Ervin Philips caught two touchdown passes, including his first collegiate TD. Syracuse earned its first shutout since 2013 when the Orange beat Wake Forest 13-0.