Syracuse frosh QB Eric Dungey cool under fire
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) After leading Syracuse to a comeback victory in his first college start, freshman quarterback Eric Dungey sat unassumingly in the bowels of the Carrier Dome awaiting his turn to answer questions amid the happy postgame celebration.
Unfazed in the game. Unfazed at all the attention.
And in the right place at the right time.
''It feels good, kind of surreal,'' Dungey said. ''I'm just supposed to be here. I'm so happy I chose Syracuse. I'm loving it here.''
What's not to love?
With the first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season in the books - a 30-17 win over Wake Forest on Saturday - Syracuse is 2-0 and unbeaten atop the Atlantic Division. And the Orange have done it without starting senior quarterback Terrel Hunt, out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury.
Dungey shot up the depth chart in preseason camp after arriving from his Lake Oswego, Oregon home, his grasp of the game well ahead of most at his age. That impressed coach Scott Shafer, a quarterback in college, whose judgment has been rewarded since Hunt was lost in the first quarter of the opener against Rhode Island.
In two games, Dungey is 18 of 30 for 335 yards and four TDs passing - already matching the school record for touchdown passes by a freshman quarterback.
More importantly, perhaps, Dungey has zero turnovers.
''I've been pleased with his development,'' Shafer said Tuesday. ''You have to be a sharp tack. You have to have a great football I.Q. I'm anxious to see him continue to improve, but I have been impressed with his growth.
''Probably more than anything else, I'm really impressed with his demeanor and his character and ability to just kind of play the game and not worry,'' Shafer said. ''He's a great competitor, and he's a cool cat.''
Except sometimes in the huddle when miscommunication with his receivers has cost the Orange. In the first half against Wake Forest, Dungey completed just four passes for 35 yards as the Demon Deacons seized a 17-13 halftime lead.
''He came in last game, played pretty good,'' said sophomore wideout Steve Ishmael, whose 53-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter doomed the Deacons. ''He was confident, wasn't nervous. He came in there yelling. I was sort of scared myself when he started yelling.''
The game changed with 2:01 left in the third quarter. With the ball at his own 11-yard line, Dungey sprinted away from the rush on first down and tossed a sidearm pass over the middle to wide receiver Brisly Estime, who raced 89 yards for the go-ahead score.
Dungey's day also included a quick kick and more than one attempt to inspire what became a raucous home crowd despite its embarrassing numbers. Only 26,670 fans, the smallest Carrier Dome turnout in 32 years - since 26,497 showed up for Rutgers in September 1983 - saw Dungey work his magic in person.
Syracuse, which beat Rhode Island 47-0, has two more home games before it travels to South Florida next month. Central Michigan (1-1) of the Mid-American Conference visits on Saturday, then No. 13 LSU.
Maybe the new kid on the block will entice a few more eyes inside the Teflon dome.
''We're way more positive. We don't argue as much,'' Ishmael said. ''We just love the positive vibe that we have going on. Ever since the first day, I knew that he (Dungey) was something special. I love the kid.''
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