The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy isn’t leaving upstate New York anytime soon.
Syracuse notched victory No. 10 for the first time since 2001 and beat their old regional rivals West Virginia 34-18 in the process, turning what was supposed to be a shootout into much more of a good old-fashioned slugfest down at the Camping World Bowl in Orlando.
Leading the way for the 20th-ranked Orange was not surprisingly quarterback Eric Dungey. Though it was far from his best performance between the lines, the senior stood in the pocket and delivered a number of big throws, ending the night with 303 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Those final numbers, though off his normal pace, were still good enough for Dungey to become the school’s all-time leading passer, moving past Ryan Nassib in the record books and also securing the program’s first postseason victory since 2013.
Syracuse didn’t have much offense outside of Dungey scrambling around making plays, though tailback Abdul Adams added a pair of short touchdown runs near the goal line and Moe Neal finished with a team-high 42 yards on the ground. Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt chipped in with a pair of field goals from 39 and 34 yards out too.
Playing without their starting quarterback, best offensive lineman and several others, No. 16 West Virginia predictably struggled to move the ball consistently. Starting quarterback Jack Allison showed a few flashes of what’s to come for the Mountaineers in the future but also had his share of struggles in throwing for 277 yards and an interception. Top target David Sills V did play in the game but had a fairly quiet outing by his standards with four catches for 90 yards and only one really big gain.
Tailback Martell Pettaway was bottled up to the tune of 61 yards and Kennedy McCoy was the only one to find the end zone, doing most of his damage early as a wildcat quarterback.
The end result and overall slide to the year (losing their final three games) no doubt puts a bit of a hamper on 2018 overall for WVU but it was still a pretty stellar campaign in the grand scheme of things as Grier put up big numbers and the team flirted with College Football Playoff and Big 12 title contention for most of the season.
They’ll still had to sit back and see their old rivals get the last laugh on Friday night though as Syracuse capped off head coach Dino Babers’ impressive turnaround upstate with a big bowl win.