Syracuse’s defense wins turnover battle again in SU victory over Boston College

first_img Comments Published on November 24, 2018 at 5:57 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ When Syracuse lost to BC in the Carrier Dome 42-14 last year, the Eagles ran for 333 yards on the back of AJ Dillon’s 193. At points this season, run defense has been SU’s kryptonite. It cost the Orange back-to-back games against Clemson and Pittsburgh. But this Saturday, against one of the nation’s best running backs in AJ Dillon, Syracuse held firm despite missing three important defensive players.“You got Kendall Coleman, you got (Antwan Cordy), you got Josh Black not playing and you’re going up against Dillon, Babers said, “(and) his backup can run the ball too, he’s really really good as well.  And for those guys to be able to keep those rushing numbers down to that and to get after that quarterback. Unbelievable.”Dillon has been nursing an ankle injury all season that was part of the reason he didn’t play in the second half. He hasn’t been himself since week four, BC head coach Steve Addazio said. Still, Syracuse held a rushing offense that ran for over 200 yards seven times this season to just 105, its third-lowest total.Despite his injury, since week four Dillon averaged over 130 yards per game this season against teams not named Clemson, when he only had 16 carries. This Saturday against the Orange, he was held to under five yards per carry in the first half, without Coleman and Black up front.“We know that they wanted to run the ball, so that was a big emphasis: Make them pass it more than they run it because they have a great backfield,” defensive end Alton Robinson said. “I guess that gave us the edge. We had emphasis on getting to the ball and gang tackling that guy. (Dillon’s) a big back. Man, he can play D-line.”SU executed their defensive game plan well, forcing 37 pass attempts compared to just 32 carries. Of those 37 attempts, BC quarterback Anthony Brown completed 17 and threw two interceptions while being sacked three times.“Our coaches preach all year long, get turnovers. Get the ball back to our offense,” Kielan Whitner said. “We’re just focused on getting that turnover, getting the ball back to our offense so they can go score and win games.Syracuse did what it has done all season and dominated the turnover battle. Eric Dungey threw one interception but posted six touchdowns. Meanwhile, Syracuse forced three Eagles fumbles, recovering two, and grabbed two interceptions. Freshman Andre Cisco recorded his seventh pick of the year, tying him for first in the nation with BC’s Hamp Cheevers. Syracuse had four interceptions throughout the entire 2017 season.But while Cisco has been a starter all season long, other non-starters stood out in the absences of Cordy, Coleman and Black.Kingsley Jonathan sacked Anthony Brown for his fifth of the season, which ranks third on the team despite playing backup to Robinson and Coleman. KJ Ruff slotted in at nose tackle alongside Chris Slayton, recording four tackles. And Shyheim Cullen, who has gotten more time as the season has progressed, made five tackles and nearly picked off Brown for a third interception late in the contest.“I learned a long time ago defense wins football games,” Robinson said. “You’re not always going to be at 100 playing football. The ship has to keep rolling.”When Babers came to the press conference after the game, he sat down, studied his stat sheet and whistled, taking a long, hard look at the numbers. He saw the plus-three turnover margin which added to Syracuse’s lead atop the ACC. He saw BC’s third-down conversion rate of just over 35 percent, going 5-of-14.He noticed the pieces of his team that struggled throughout his first two seasons at Syracuse, that have now become the team’s strengths. This Saturday afternoon, against one of the best rushing games in the ACC and against a Heisman-level talent at running back, Syracuse’s defense stuffed the Eagles when its offense pressured BC to keep pace, all without three defensive leaders.“Those guys were flying around and they were playing good, sound defense,” Babers said. “I’m really proud of their effort. It was a next man up attitude, and they really came out to play.” CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – With Syracuse and Boston College tied 6-6 late in the first quarter, Sterling Hofrichter kicked off to BC’s Michael Walker and sprinted downfield. As Walker received the kick, he cut towards the left before sprinting back to his right along the right sideline, where he was met head-on by Hofrichter, who punched the ball loose as he dove towards Walker. SU’s kickoff specialist and punter recovered the fumble for Syracuse.When a reporter asked Syracuse head coach Dino Babers about Hofrichter’s play after the game, a huge smirk spread itself across the coach’s face. Before the reporter could finish asking his question, Babers interrupted him.“We got the toughest punter in the ACC,” Babers said. “How ‘bout that? A kicker knocking the dogon’ ball out. Daddy’s proud on that one. I went over to him and I said you better not do it again.”Hofrichter’s forced fumble was just one of many crucial defensive plays that No. 20 Syracuse (9-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast) produced in its 42-21 road win over Boston College (7-5, 4-4) at Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon. In a matchup that last season ended in an Eagles blowout, Syracuse’s defense held Boston College in check defensively and gave its offense an opportunity to come alive.MORE COVERAGE:AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEric Dungey leads Syracuse to best season since 2001Takeaways from Syracuse’s win at BClast_img

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