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SYRACUSE, NY (cuse.com) -- USF (3-0) used a steady dose of its rushing attack and remained undefeated, beating Syracuse (1-2), 45-20, at the Carrier Dome.
The Bulls overcame an early 17-0 deficit to secure the victory. Two rushing touchdowns each by running back Marlon Mack and wide receiver Rodney Adams proved to be the difference in the contest. USF ran for 239 yards overall in the triumph.
A school record 105 plays from scrimmage, the most since Syracuse had 100 against Virginia Tech in 2002, were not enough for the Orange. The play total tied an ACC mark as well.
Quarterback Eric Dungey was 32-of-48 for 350 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Ervin Philips had 10 receptions for the second time in three games this season. He finished with 10 catches for 95 yards. Wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo finished with eight receptions for 123 yards.
Running back Dontae Strickland had career-high totals for carries (30) and yards (127). His rushing attempts were the most for a Syracuse performer since DeLone Carter had 30 against Akron in 2009.
Syracuse scored the first three times it had the ball. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Orange drove 79 yards in 16 plays, a march finished off by Dungey's 24-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Philips. Dungey had extended the drive when, on a fourth-down-and-one at the Syracuse 45, he plunged forward for the first down. Strickland carried eight times, just one rush shy of his single-game best, for 36 yards on Syracuse's first offensive excursion.
On Syracuse's next possession, Dungey teamed with Brisly Estime on a 47-yard touchdown pass. The score was set up by a 30-yard completion to Etta-Tawo on the play before.
Kicker Cole Murphy added a 40-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the first period, and the Orange led 17-0.
Dungey, who started slowly with back-to-back incompletions, got hot, hitting 10-of-11 throws for 138 yards over the rest of the first period.
As stunning as the start was, USF was not rattled by the early Orange advantage.Just under 10 minutes into the second quarter, the Bulls had grabbed a 21-17 lead. By halftime, the margins was 28-17 in favor of USF. Adams did most of the damage, scoring on a 27-yard reception from Flowers, and adding touchdown runs of nine and 19 yards. Running back Mack had a two-yard plunge for the other first-half score by USF.
The teams traded scoreless drives for most of the third quarter until Syracuse got on the board. Murphy converted a 49-yard field goal, just one yard shy of his career best, to narrow the deficit to 28-20.
The Bulls answered decisively, when Mack ran 52 yards to paydirt with 55 seconds left in the third quarter. The scoring scamper came on a fourth-and-one snap from the USF 48-yard line.
When Syracuse's next possession stalled, USF used its special teams to deliver a devastating blow. Sterling Hofrichter's punt traveled 52 yards but D'Ernest Johnson ran it right back through the Orange coverage for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Bulls tacked on a 42-yard field goal by Emilio Nadelman, to set the final score.
Daivon Ellison led Syracuse defenders with a career-best 11 tackles. Linebacker Zaire Franklin added eight total stops.
The Syracuse cause was hurt by 10 penalties, covering 69 yards, and by three turnovers.
Mack led USF with 115 yards rushing on nine carries. Flowers was 12-of-24 for 185 yards and a touchdown and ran 11 times for 51 yards.