Hartford Conn-The Orangemen came into Rentschler Field Saturday with something to prove. Syracuse was looking to pick up their second victory of the season after consecutive losses. Uconn had no answers for senior receiver Amba Etta –Tawo who finished the game with 12 receptions, 270 yards and two touchdowns in front of an announced crowd of 31,899.
The Orange seemed to be one play better, a series better, and had more explosive plays on this Saturday afternoon. In a game of momentum and thrilling plays UConn came up a few minutes short. The Huskies wished to have a few plays back that definitely could’ve changed the 31-24 lost to the Orangemen.
“We had too many plays that caused losing, that makes it really impossible to win, that needs to be eliminated, or at a minimum, minimized. I didn’t look at the statistics, but I would anticipate you’re going to see a control of the game, a control of the plays, a control of the field, a control of the clock, exactly what we wanted to do. And then we had a couple of plays that created, really, a 21-point gift. You can’t win like that.” Coach Bob Diaco said.
It took Syracuse receiver Etta-Tawo all of 4:13 to amass 118 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the first quarter, putting the Huskies in a 14-0 deficit. The last of Etta-Tawo’s career-high 270 yards, the second-most ever posted against UConn and the most in the FBS era. The last of his 12 catches came on a 59-yard play on third down that was instrumental of a 99-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed UConn’s fate.
“We were in a hole and we just looked around the huddle and said, we have to do it. We have to put the game away. We dug deeper and got it done.” Said Etta-Tawo.
The Huskies had everything going in their direction, driving in the late fourth quarter UConn used a faked field goal attempt-Tyler Davis throwing 17 yards over the shoulder dart to Tommy Myers. The play gave life to the struggling Huskies offense. UConn was rolling, first and goal from the 8-yard line with a little more than six minutes on the clock trailing 24-17 at the time. UConn elected to go with three runs with Ron Johnson coming up short at the two.
On fourth down at the 2-yard line, quarterback Bryant Shirreffs rolled right on an option play. He dove for the end zone but he was met in the air by junior linebacker Zaire Franklin, leaving the Huskies a little short of a touchdown and giving the Orangemen possession at its own 1-yard line.
The ensuing Syracuse drive ended with a quarterback keeper by Eric Dungey a six-yard touchdown jaunt with 2:14 left. UConn’s quarterback Shirreffs hit freshman Tyler Davis for a 24-yard touchdown with just 33 seconds left in the game. The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful.
Bryant Shirreffs set a career high for pass attempts, finishing 27 of 45 for 264 yards in an offense that tried to spread the ball around to all its receivers. His third down play throwing near the 8-yard line interception was costly. With the score tied 17-17 along with UConn facing third-and-8 at its own 8, Shirreffs rolled right and tried to hit Noel Thomas. The ball was tipped by linebacker Zaire Franklin and caught by Cordell Hudson, who returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to give Syracuse a seven-point lead with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“It really changed the game, it really took the pressure off us and put it on our opponent.” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said.
The headliner of today’s game was Syracuse sophmore quarterback Eric Dungey finishing 26 of 40 for a career-high 407 yards and his super talented receiver Amba Etta-Tawo with the 12 big time receptions. Every time the Orangemen needed a big play they dialed a script with #7’s name on it. Syracuse is putting everyone on notice that these are not the same Orangemen of old.