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Eric Dungey’s heroics lead SU to first 4-0 start since 1991; Syracuse dominates UConn 51-21

first_img Published on September 22, 2018 at 7:50 pm Contact Matt: mdliberm@syr.edu Boos from the crowd echoed through the Carrier Dome as soon as referee Anthony Calabrese’s made the call. Eric Dungey didn’t cross the goal line. Instead, Syracuse would have first down and goal from its own one-yard line.Even though Dungey managed to secure a first down for Syracuse with less three feet to go, he and the raucous crowd weren’t pleased. On the next play, Dungey muscled his way into the end zone for a touchdown, his fourth score of the first half, to give Syracuse a 31-14 lead.“All he wants to do is win and he’ll do anything that he can to win,” SU head coach Dino Babers said. “If it’s helping you catch a pass, he’ll do it, and if you can’t catch it he’ll throw it to you and run down there and catch it himself.”A week after backup Tommy DeVito wowed the college football world in relief of the injured Dungey against Florida State, leading SU to a dominant 27-point win, Dungey made his mark again. A poke to the eye, a helmet-to-helmet hit and a sore throwing shoulder in the last week, Dungey dominated, leading Syracuse (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 51-21 win over Connecticut (1-3, 0-1 American Athletic). The senior completed 21 of 27 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 77 yards and three touchdowns and led Syracuse to its first 4-0 start since 1991 and just its fifth since World War II.And he’ll have to put forth a similar effort next week when SU travels to Death Valley to take on a No. 3 Clemson (4-0, 1-0) team eager for revenge against the quarterback that torched it for 339 yards and three touchdowns last season in arguably the biggest upset in SU football history.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I thought Eric’s leadership was at the forefront today,” Babers said. “If you look at the way he handled the first quarter drives and the things we did the first two and three times we had the football, I think that’s a lot of Eric Dungey’s personality being breathed into the rest of the offense.”Dungey has long discussed his fiery nature. He yelled in Babers’ ear to put him back in against Western Michigan. He tried to stay in against Florida State despite reportedly not being able to see straight due to getting poked in the eye. He knows if Syracuse is to make a national statement this year, it rests on the shoulders of his leadership. Whatever Syracuse does, all eyes will come back to him. On Saturday afternoon, he led Syracuse down the field on its first drive and punched the first touchdown of the game in himself. After a quick UConn three-and-out, Dungey accounted for 58 of Syracuse’s 75 yards and powered in another.On that second rushing touchdown, Dungey faked the handoff on the Huskies’ nine-yard line and tried to run up the gut. When he was met by a wall of lineman, Dungey curled around the left side where he was met by two linebackers. One he shed immediately, the other, Kevon Jones, wrapped Dungey from behind, trying to plant his feet in the turf and stop the run. But he couldn’t. Dungey trudged forward, inching closer and closer, bulldozing his way toward the end zone as Jones continued to lose the proverbial tug-of-war to hold him back.“He’s just a real warrior,” center Airon Servais said. “He just battles every play.”Two drives in and Dungey had scored two touchdowns, had only one incompletion and 110 yards of offense and Syracuse led 14-0.But something looked different. The Dungey of old would’ve fought for more yards, looking for head-on collisions with linebackers to try to gain one extra yard. Dungey didn’t play that way Saturday. He slid when he should have, he ran out of bounds when he reached first downs and he even avoided leaping at the goal-line on a second-down play that he likely could have scored on. He scored two plays later instead.As UConn continued to struggle against the smothering SU defense, Dungey continued to shine. SU’s third drive lasted just 58 seconds. After a long Sean Riley punt return, Dungey went 3-3 completing passes to Devin Butler and Riley before finding Gabe Horan on the Connecticut one-yard line, where the tight end muscled his way for six points.Just over 11 minutes into the game each side had three possessions. UConn accumulated 73 yards for no score. Dungey had 152 and three touchdowns. The Huskies began to gain some traction on the ground and in the air, but Dungey’s play paced the game. At the end of the first half, Dungey had outgained UConn by 16 yards and had four total touchdowns to Connecticut’s two. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ In the second half, he showed no signs of slowing, leading the offense to 48 points before DeVito finally came in for relief with 10 minutes remaining.All game, Dungey bruised his way into the end zone and spread out a dynamic offense, finding eight different receivers and leading some — such as Riley, who produced a career-high 120 yards on six catches — to career days.Yet, he lost his psyche in certain moments. In the third quarter, after Dungey failed to break the goal line on second and goal from the one-yard line, his arguing resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. SU settled for a field goal.“That was what coach would call a selfish play,” Dungey said. “Not cool on my part. I can’t do things like that. It’s a bad look for the team … I told coach I apologize and it’s not gonna happen again.”Dungey scored five touchdowns and generated 363 yards of total offense. He has propelled SU to its best start in 27 years. But, UConn entered this game as the worst defensive team in the nation and SU has not beaten an opponent above .500. Clemson — next week’s opponent — is arguably the best team in the nation. SU won last year’s matchup, but it was on home turf and against a second-string quarterback. The last time the Orange walked into Memorial Stadium (South Carolina), they left scoreless. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties inches from the end zone won’t help SU to a win in Death Valley.In the post-game press conference, Babers reiterated Dungey’s drive. If his wideouts can’t catch the ball, Dungey will throw it and catch it, Babers said. But when asked if he ever goes too far, Babers paused.“What did that guy say? You play to win the game, the Arizona State (head coach Herm Edwards),” Babers said. “I think Eric does a great job of playing to win the game.”last_img read more

The Dodgers’ depth – and players willing to accept diminished roles – has proven invaluable

first_imgDave Roberts knows better than anyone how small contributions can have big implications in October.An every-day player with the Dodgers in 2004, Roberts became a role player when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox at midseason. During the playoffs that year, he never picked up a bat – but he will never have to pick up another check in New England thanks to his series-turning stolen base in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.That experience makes Roberts an ideal salesman for the latest iteration of the Dodgers’ win-by-numbers approach, one that has reduced established every-day players like Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, Brian Dozier and others into cogs in an analytical wheel.“I think the No. 1 sell is to win a championship and to sell guys that they can be a part in this process, in this collaboration, in this team in different capacities,” Roberts said. “And guys have delivered at different spots. So I think that that’s kind of the selling point. “The same thing goes in the bullpen. You can use these guys in the sixth, seventh inning or whenever. Then when you’re shaking hands at the end of a game, you can go, ‘I’m Scott Alexander. I got a lefty to hit into a double play in the seventh inning. That could have been the turning point.’ ‘I’m Max Muncy. I didn’t start but I got four RBIs the other day against the Padres’ or ‘I made a great defensive play’ or ‘I led the inning off and drew a walk.’ For me, that is really tangible stuff. So when we’re shaking hands after a game or we’re looking back on the season I’m going ‘I’m as much a part of this as the next guy.’”There might be a little more kumbaya to that than Roberts would admit. Players focus to varying extents on their numbers during the regular season. As competitors, they measure themselves against other players based on those numbers. As capitalists, they know their paycheck depends on them.In the month of October, though, numbers matter less.“I think it’s a different situation in the playoffs when the roster shrinks and it’s all about winning or losing that day,” Zaidi said. “Certainly you have that during the regular season, but the focus is even heightened now.“Guys have seen and remember too many relievers or pinch-hitters or pinch-runners who swung playoff games and those are the guys that get remembered. Everybody knows it just takes one moment to help win a game or a series this time of year.” Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies “But with that comes a sacrifice, and just understanding that when your number is called, then just be ready when called upon. So it’s tough. It’s an adjustment for a lot of players. But, fortunately, we have players who have bought into that.”That hasn’t been an entirely voluntary process.“Honestly, we have no choice but to buy into it,” Kemp said in Atlanta on Monday with a laugh, adding that he has talked to Chase Utley about accepting his new reality.“It’s been working. Like you said, we got guys on the bench that could go somewhere and play every single day and make an impact. But we’re trying to win a championship, and every guy is on the same page, and our own common goal is to win a championship.”The sacrifices have been widespread, particularly in September when the Dodgers went full capacity, activating everyone on their 40-man roster. With that full house and a wide assortment of positional flexibility, Roberts went all in on platooning. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start center_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season As a result, Kemp, Chris Taylor and Brian Dozier have not started more than three games in a row since August. Bellinger didn’t start more than four games in a row (despite being an option at two positions) in September. Max Muncy and Joc Pederson haven’t started more than three in a row since July.Only Justin Turner and Manny Machado were truly every-day players for the Dodgers over the final two months of the season.On the pitching staff, Ross Stripling, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda were pushed from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Stripling (this year) and Wood (last year) were All-Star selections as starting pitchers. Maeda took a financial hit, giving up any chance of reaching bonuses in his contract based on life as a starter.“It’s hard being platooned. Everybody knows it,” Bellinger said, champagne and beer soaking his shirt in the Dodgers’ third post-game clinching celebration in 10 days on Monday. “Our whole team basically was. That being said, you’ve got to perform when it’s your time – and we started to hit lefties.”That is the ultimate rebuttal for any criticism of Roberts’ revolving lineups or in-house grumbling from players pushed into diminished roles – it worked.“At the end of the day, you look back at September and we were 20-9,” GM Farhan Zaidi said. “We were 20-9 with the expanded roster. We performed as well against left-handed pitching as we did all year. We know that position players want to play and starting pitchers want to start games. When they have that identity, that’s how they want to be used.“In this game, you need that kind of confidence. But I think going through that has put guys in better positions, where there’s some familiarity coming off the bench in this situation. The guys that we put in the ’pen got their feet wet during the season and now are more comfortable doing it.”Roberts no longer has 40 players at his disposal. But the Dodgers still head into their third consecutive NLCS with uncommon depth – in Game 4 of their NLDS against the Braves, Roberts used last year’s NLCS co-MVP (Taylor), a 2018 All-Star Game starter (Kemp) and a former World Series MVP (David Freese) as pinch-hitters.That depth has caused him to evolve his own philosophy as a manager, Roberts admitted, and now he “100 percent believes in” searching for every advantage rather than rolling the same players out day after day because it’s easier for the manager and more comfortable for the players.“The reason I’ve evolved is because the options we have this year versus years past – are better,” Roberts said. “And were they good before? Absolutely. But when you have a certain option and it could be lesser, in my opinion or whatever, then the sell is a lot harder. If it’s a lot more stark and clear, then it’s an easier sell. And I think right now where we’re at when I look at our options they are clearly very good options.Related Articleslast_img read more