WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Now that Syracuse has climbed back into the national rankings, the Orange want to stay there.
The 22nd-ranked Orange beat Wake Forest 41-24 on Saturday, with Eric Dungey rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown and Jarveon Howard adding two scores.
Dungey - whose average of 294.1 total yards per game ranks second in the ACC - was 23 of 35 for 157 yards and also ran for a 26-yard score to help the Orange (7-2, 4-2, No. 19 CFP) win their first game as a Top 25 team since the Dwight Freeney days in 2001.
“Can’t say enough about what (the seniors have) done to change this culture … and give us an opportunity to do greater things in the future,” coach Dino Babers said. “Whatever happens, they’re going to be known as the class that got this thing turned around and headed in the right direction.”
Moe Neal added an 8-yard score, Chris Elmore had a 5-yard TD run and Andre Szmyt kicked two field goals for Syracuse, which earned its first conference road victory in more than two years.
“We finally got that monkey off our back,” Babers said.
Sam Hartman was 21 of 37 for 275 yards for the Demon Deacons (4-5, 1-4) with two touchdown passes. His 8-yarder to Greg Dortch pulled them to 35-24 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
But after Wake Forest forced a stop, Hartman fumbled at his own 34 and Syracuse turned that takeaway into Szmyt’s 28-yard field goal that put Orange up by 14 with 11:55 left.
Cade Carney had a 2-yard touchdown run and Nick Sciba kicked a 22-yard field goal to give Wake Forest an early 10-0 lead.
Syracuse: Dungey and one of the ACC’s highest-scoring offenses always get the attention, but the Orange defense stepped up in this one. Syracuse, which entered 11th in the ACC in total defense and allows 432 total yards per game, held one of the league’s most productive offenses in check, forcing three turnovers that led to 10 points and matching a season best with six sacks.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have yet to show they can beat a good team. The three FBS teams they’ve defeated - Tulane, Rice and Louisville - entered the weekend with a combined record of 6-19. They fell to 0-3 against Top 25 opponents, losing all three at home by at least 17 points apiece.
“We play well early, and once the snap count gets up there and we get worn down and we’ve got to put subs in, we get crushed,” coach Dave Clawson said. “We have no depth.”
A double-digit road win in conference play will do nothing to hurt the Orange’s first national ranking in 17 years. Another tumultuous weekend at the bottom of the polls could push them into the top 20.
This was the second-best rushing day of Dungey’s career, surpassed only by his 200-yard performance in the opener at Western Michigan. It also was his sixth game with at least 100 yards rushing. … Syracuse’s 266 yards rushing was its third-highest total of the season, and its most against a power-conference opponent. Neal (67) and Dontae Strickland (64) each had more than 60 yards on the ground.
This was the Orange’s first November victory under Babers, with Dungey saying it’s “hopefully the first of four.” They entered 0-8 in November games under Babers and had been outscored 399-186 in those games. Dungey missed six of them with injuries. … Syracuse has four ACC wins for the first time since its first year in the conference (2013).
HE SAID IT
“Just to chill. ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Chill, Honey Bunny? Just chill.’ ” - Babers, on the early 10-0 deficit.
Syracuse: hosts Louisville on Friday night.
Wake Forest: faces an even quicker turnaround with a Thursday night game at North Carolina State.
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