As a season ticket holder and Syracuse native, football success is not something we are used to seeing. Sure, Cuse basketball gives us all something to cheer about, but for Syracuse football, losing is more of a tradition. But lately, things have changed. Syracuse sits at 7-2, ranked 13 in the AP Poll and 13 in the College Football Playoff. And a lot of that has to do with starting QB Eric Dungey.
I’ll never forget the first game of the season in 2015, with Rhode Island coming for a seemingly meaningless FCS warmup game. But only a series in, then-starting quarterback Terrel Hunt exited the game with a season-ending leg injury. There was a collective groan inside the Carrier Dome. It was announced over the PA system. “Now in at quarterback, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, Freshman Eric Dungey”. I can’t even lie. Even I thought it was over. But then Dungey balled out, leading the Orange to a 47-0 win.
And then they won the second game under Dungey, and the attitude in Syracuse began to change. But then a dirty hit by Central Michigan in Week 3 led to a concussion for Dungey, sidelining him for two weeks. Even with a depleted team around him, Dungey went for 1,649 total yards, 16 TD and only threw 5 picks.
Sophomore season was a breakout for Dungey, 2,679 yards passing to go with 15 touchdowns. Even with the Orange ending at 4-8, the eye test had been passed. I remember the excitement realizing Syracuse finally had the quarterback it needed with its new, high-powered offense. In his best performance of the season, Dungey went 32-38 with 434 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 28-20 win over Boston College. But once again, Dungey was bit by the injury bug the next week against Clemson and missed the last 3 games.
Junior year was up and down for Dungey and the Orange, but it was highlighted by one of the biggest moments in Carrier Dome history. My favorite memory from a live sporting event ever. Number 2 Clemson rolled into town. 7 PM kick. ESPN. The lights were at their brightest. And Dungey performed. 387 total yards. 3 touchdowns. In an absolute madhouse, Dungey led the Orange to a program-defining 27-24 win against Clemson. I’ll never forget the students srtorming the field, the locker room after the game, and the swarms of people surrounding Eric Dungey. It is a moment that Syracuse fans will never forget. The city was electric. And yet, once again, Dungey missed the last three games of the season with an injury.
So onto this year. A year that will not soon be forgotten by Syracuse fans. The Orange sit at 7-2, ranked for the first time since 2001, with a large portion of the credit due to now senior Quarterback Eric Dungey. As Louisville comes to town this Friday night, Syracuse looks for a perfect 6-0 record at home. I’m looking at you, Cuse fans. It better be jam packed inside the Carrier Dome, cheering on not just Eric Dungey, but the entire senior class that helped bring Syracuse football back to relevance. Dungey now owns or shares 12 Syracuse football records. It’s safe to say his legacy has been left.
To Eric. Thank you for all the moments inside the Carrier Dome on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. Thank you for every drop of sweat you put into the Syracuse football program. Yeah, we probably all wish you would have slid a little bit more. But that’s not your style. Keep grinding for those extra yards. Cuse nation will never forget the hurdles, the throws, the records broken, the insane runs, the hits both given and taken by you, and most importantly the big wins on big stages. With four games to play, a lot could happen. But I think it’s important to reflect as it is Senior Day inside the Carrier Dome. Thank you, Eric Dungey, for four years of memories.