By MARK FRANK Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Eric Dungey accounted for 417 yards and two touchdowns and Syracuse beat No. 17 Virginia Tech 31-17 on Saturday for its first victory over a ranked opponent since 2012.
Fans stormed the field and carried off Dungey in celebration after he passed the 311 yards and ran for 106. He scored on a 1-yard sneak to give the Orange (3-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 24-17 lead with 7:56 to go, and hit Erv Phillips on a 58-yard scoring play in the first quarter.
“You can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “Anytime you’re trying to rebuild a program, you need that one signature win. … To get this game right now, at this time, at this moment – this is big.”
Held to their lowest offensive output of the season, the Hokies (4-2, 2-1) tied it at 17 with 13:53 to go in regulation on Jerod Evans’ 10-yard pass to Bucky Hodges and a 2-point conversion catch by Chris Cunningham, but Dungey took over after that.
Syracuse dominated the first half. The Orange had 347 yards of offense in the first half, 221 in the second quarter. The Hokies, ranked second nationally and first in the ACC in pass defense at 132.2 yards a game, yielded 310 yards passing in the first 30 minutes and 405 for the game.
The Orange defense had its best half of the season, limiting the Hokies to Joey Slye’s 36-yard field goal.
The Orange scored on their sixth play of the game, the 58-yard pass play from Dungey to Philips. On the second play of the second quarter, the Orange used a bit of trickery for their second score. Dungey flipped to Dontae Strickland, who threw a perfect strike to Brisly Estime for an 84-yard touchdown play and a 14-3 lead. Cole Murphy’s 51-yard field gave the Orange a 17-3 halftime lead.
The Hokies had Evans’ 17-yard touchdown run in the first half was nullified by a holding penalty, and Slye then missed a 45-yard field goal. Syracuse defensive back Rodney Williams intercepted Evans’ pass from the Syracuse 7 in the end zone, killing a drive, and Evans fumbled with 4:08 to go.
SITTING OUT: Syracuse starting defensive end Kendall Coleman sat out the first half as the result of a targeting penalty against Wake Forest a week ago. Coleman, a true freshman who had started every game, was penalized for targeting quarterback John Wolford in the fourth quarter of a 28-9 loss.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: Virginia Tech will plummet after the upset loss, possibly out of the Top 25.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies had only allowed 661 yards through the air in their first five games. Syracuse had 405. Virginia Tech had only allowed 20 points combined in its previous three games. The Hokies averaged 39.4 points entering the game.
Syracuse: Three Syracuse players completed passes in the first half: Dungey, Strickland and Estime.
Dungey was not sacked in the first half but was knocked out of the game for one play on a hit by free safety Mook Reynolds. Zack Mahoney replaced him. Philips had 11 receptions, Estime eight, Steven Ishmael six and Etta-Tawo five.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies host Miami on Thursday night.
Syracuse: The Orange travel to Boston College next Saturday.