ORLANDO, Fla. — Eric Dungey overcame two interceptions to throw for 303 yards and Abdul Adams ran for two short touchdowns as No. 20 Syracuse pulled away from No. 16 West Virginia 34-18 in the Camping World Bowl on Friday night.
Dungey put the Orange (10-3) ahead 24-18 in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Trishton Jackson. That started a run of 17 unanswered points in 5 minutes as the Syracuse achieved its first 10-win season since 2001.
West Virginia (8-4), playing without quarterback Will Grier, ended the season on a three-game skid and fell to 2-5 in bowls under Dana Holgorsen.
Sophomore Jack Allison made his first start and finished 17 of 34 for 277 yards. His only interception — a tipped pass that wound up in the hands of Orange defensive back Allen Stritzinger — led to a Syracuse field goal and a 27-18 lead.
Dungey scrambled away from four defenders on Syracuse’s next possession to throw a dump pass that Moe Neal turned into a 42-yard gain. That set up Moe Neal’s 4-yard touchdown.
The long-time Big East rivals were facing off for the second time since conference realignment. Their last meeting came in the frigid 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, which Syracuse dominated 38-14. The temperatures were far milder in 81-degree Orlando, but the result was the same.
David Sills closed his career with four catches worth 90 yards for the Mountaineers. Kennedy McKoy ran for 73 yards on 17 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown out ion the Wildcat formation.
West Virginia outgained Syracuse 423-418 but went 0-for-3 on fourth-down tries.
Recapping the live updates/analysis/zen reflections:
— WVU FAILED FOURTH DOWN: Kennedy McKoy reeled off a 24-yard run before Allison’s night ended with four consecutive incompletions at the Syracuse 22.
— SYRACUSE PUNT: The Orange consumed more than 3 minutes by picking up a first down.
— WVU FAILED FOURTH DOWN: Down 16 with under 7 minutes left, Holgorsen made the necessary decision to go for a fourth-and-goal from the 6. His playcall certainly wasn’t conventional, a lateral to Trevor Wesco that gave the tight end an option to pass. But Syracuse didn’t bite and covered T.J. Simmons, leaving Wesco to try to bulldoze his way in. He only reached the 3.
TOUCHDOWN: Jarveon Howard 4-yard run (9:59) Syracuse leads 34-18
A would-be sack turned into the craziest 42-yard gain of this bowl season. Dungey was backpedaling in desperation when he flicked a pass to Moe Neal, still far behind the line off scrimmage. But Neal weaved and dashed through the defense to reach the WVU 4. Howard plunged in one play later. (Drive: 4 plays, 58 yards in 1:37)
— WVU PUNT: Allison was sacked by a three-man rush as West Virginia went three-and-out.
FIELD GOAL: Andre Szmyt 34-yarder (12:55) Syracuse leads 27-18
After Allen Stritzinger’s interception had Syracuse primed for a knockout blow, West Virginia’s quick-change defense yielded Dontae Strickland’s 17-yard run before making a stand. (Drive: 5 plays, 17 yards in 1:49)
— WVU TURNOVER: Allison’s first glaring mistake came on a scramble when he forced a high throw that was tipped into the hands of Syracuse defensive back Allen Stritzinger. His 20-yard return was partly mitigated by an illegal block on the return, but Syracuse took over at West Virginia’s 33.
TOUCHDOWN: Trishton Jackson 14-yard pass from Eric Dungey (14:54) Syracuse leads 24-18
Facing a third-and-11 on the opening snap of the fourth period, Dungey zipped a sideline pass through the tight coverage of cornerback Josh Norwood. Dungey had a clutch drive, converting a third-down run and finding Sean Riley for 23 yards and Custis for 13. (Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards in 3:29)
FIELD GOAL: Evan Staley 49-yarder (3:23) WVU leads 18-17
Staley didn’t get all of it, but his kick waddled over the crossbar for his fourth field goal of the night. The highlight of the drive, by far, was 5-foot-5 freshman walk-on Kwincy Hall making a 46-yard catch on third down. Allison also gained 2 yards to convert a key third-and-1. (Drive: 10 plays, 55 yards in 2:53)
FIELD GOAL: Andre Szmyt 39-yarder (6:16) Syracuse leads 17-15
Dungey threw a 26-yard pop pass to Aaron Hackett — something straight outta the Kansas State playbook —as the Orange moved into scoring range for the Lou Groza Award winner. (Drive: 10 plays, 57 yards in 3:55)
FIELD GOAL: Evan Staley 44-yarder (6:42) WVU leads 15-14
Staley was positioned for his third field goal of the game after Allison connected with a wide-open Tevin Bush for 36 yards on third-and-6. (Working from the slot, Bush scooted through zone coverage undetected.) Allison also had a 9-yard completion to Simmons on a throw that buzzed the cap of the back judge. (Drive: 9 plays, 48 yards in 4:49)
— WVU has outgained Syracuse 201-174
— QB comps: Jack Allison is 7-of-16 for 77 yards, while Dungey is 7-of-14 for 110 yards with two interceptions. Thus far it has been the senior quarterback (who entered with 1,251 career attempts) making the miscues, and not the kid with 10.
— WVU is 3-of-10 on third downs and the Orange are 1-of-7.
— SYRACUSE TURNOVER: Starting from midfield with time to get into field goal range, the Orange produced zilch when Dungey was intercepted by Derek Pitts.
— WVU PUNT: Aspiring to kill the final 1:48 of the half, the Mountaineers ran off only 49 seconds.
— SYRACUSE PUNT: After a 43-yard kick return, a three-and-out ended with a punt on fourth-and-3 from midfield.
FIELD GOAL: Evan Staley 36-yarder (6:42) Syracuse leads 14-12
Martell Pettaway’s 51-yard run featured a nice downfield juke on a Syracuse defensive back, and Dana Holgorsen turned creative by calling a tight end reverse/quarterback throwback. Alas, Trevon Wesco’s first pass since the days of Musselman High School was dropped along the sideline by Trey Lowe. After McKoy’s 11-yard run in third-and-16, Holgorsen played it safe with Staley’s kick. (Drive: 5 plays, 56 yards in 1:57)
TOUCHDOWN: Abdul Adams 1-yard run (13:52) Syracuse leads 14-9
Syracuse retook the lead and penalties on the WVU defense factored heavily. Darius Stills was flagged for roughing the passer and safety Kenny Robinson was ejected for an obvious targeting hit on receiver Taj Harris. Harris also made two catches on the series for 27 yards. (Drive: 6 plays, 62 yards in 1:50)
— WVU FAILED FOURTH DOWN: Allison’s fourth-and-3 completion to T.J. Simmons netted only 2 yards at the Syracuse 38. The Mountaineers gained 21 on the drive, including the first carry by Trey Lowe, a 9-yard keeper.
— SYRACUSE PUNT: Shea Campbell’s sack put the Orange in second-and-long, and Dungey’s 39-yard pass to Custis was negated by offsetting penalties.
TOUCHDOWN: Kennedy McKoy 3-yard run (13:52) WVU leads 9-7
Kenny Robinson’s interception produced points as West Virginia went to McKoy in the Wildcat formation. There was different window dressing, however, as Trey Lowe and Jack Allison took turns splitting out wide. The extra-point try ricocheted off the upright however, snapping Evan Staley’s two-year streak of 75 consecutive PATs. (Drive: 4 plays, 16 yards in 1:08)
— SYRACUSE TURNOVER: After a false start and an illegal shift backed the Orange into a first-and-20 hole, Dungey made a panicky throw under pressure. Kenny Robinson made the interception to set up WVU at the 16.
— WVU PUNT: Allison hit an 18-yarder to Sills before the Mountaineers punted on fourth-and-3 from the Syracuse 46.
TOUCHDOWN: Abdul Adams 4-yard run (3:01) Syracuse leads 7-3
Near-catastrophe for Syracuse after kickoff trickery went awry: Returner Nykeim Johnson attempted a cross-field throwback to Ifeatu Melifonwu that WVU’s Dante Bonamico snuffed out for a 4-yard loss. The Orange overcame it as Eric Dungey completed 5-of-5 for 83 yards, including a 44-yarder on which Jamal Custice beat Keith Washington. Adams punched in a third-down score by extending the ball across the goal line as he laid atop linebacker Shea Campbell. (Drive: 10 plays, 91 yards in 3:35)
FIELD GOAL: Evan Staley 27-yarder (6:42) WVU leads 3-0
Jack Allison zipped a third-and-5 pass to David Sills for 8 yards, and Tevin Bush gained 20 on a Jet sweep as WVU got rolling. The series bogged down thanks to a delay-of-game flag and Ryan Guthrie’s sack , and Allison’s underneath throw on third-and-21 netted 17 to T.J.Simmons. (Drive: 10 plays, 45 yards in 4:52)
— SYRACUSE PUNT: A brutal series for the Orange included two sacks on Dungey, both by DBs. Toyous Avery cleaned up the first on a scramble before Keith Washington made a blind-side hit for minus-13.
— WVU PUNT: Jack Allison’s first start produced three straight dropbacks. He was 1-of-3 with a 3-yard screen pass to Kennedy McKoy.
— SYRACUSE PUNT: A game-opening three-and-out for the Orange, capped by Dante Stills hurrying Eric Dungey into a third-and-8 incompletion. Stills’ hit loomed large because Nykeim Johnson had beaten nickel back Josh Norwood on the slant and was primed for a huge gainer.
— Marcus Simms out for the game, further limiting Jack Allison’s targets.
— My 5 Questions pregame column.
— Beat writer Alex Hickey tabbed the most memorable games in WVU-Syracuse history.
— Our pregame Sweet Spot podcast.
Alex Hickey: Being in Orlando only confirms what we already believed to be true — this game is a big deal for Syracuse. WVU fans are harder to find. The Mountaineers will be challenged to match the intensity, though the defense does have motivation and something to prove… ‘Cuse 34-17
Hoppy Kercheval: WVU enters the bowl game with no proven QB, no momentum and nothing really to gain. Expectations among Mountaineers fans is at an all-time low this bowl season, so it stands to reason that WVU will shock everyone and win this game convincingly. West Virginia 37-27
Allan Taylor: A 10-point swing in the betting line now has the Orange favored by three. Grier’s absence is only somewhat mitigated by Syracuse losing sacks leader Alton Robinson, and there’s only one team that appears genuinely excited to be here. Jack Allison’s appearance will pay dividends in 2019, but as for the finish to 2018, I’ll take Syracuse 34-20.