Hunt Plays Big For 'Cuse In Their First Win Of The Season
9/14/13 - 07:34 PM
Syracuse, N.Y. --?? Finally, there was offense.
After two weeks of interceptions and incompletions, slow starts and swing passes, Syracuse came to life. And it did not thrive on the strong right arm of the 6-foot-5-inch transfer from Oklahoma. No, the Orange was reanimated, vivified and energized, by Terrel Hunt.
He took the field with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter, another dreary beginning behind Drew Allen well underway. For eight minutes and three drives Allen produced nothing. He passed for but a single yard -- a negative yard.
So on trotted Hunt, the in-state product who flashed his abilities in a garbage-time touchdown drive last week against Northwestern, ready for his chance to lead the offense he thought was his until the news of Allen's transfer sounded the gun on a quarterback race.
Put simply, Hunt ended the competition.
Everything Allen had been in Syracuse's losses --?? an interception machine, an inaccurate deep passer, an immobile target in the pocket -- ??Hunt was the antithesis. He converted three third downs on his opening drive en route to a touchdown, then guided the Orange to the end zone on his next four possessions as well. By halftime, Syracuse came within a touchdown and two-point conversion of its point total for the entire season.
By the end, SU had completed a 54-0 romp in which its new quarterback made throwing for 265 yards and three touchdowns seem effortless.
That guy from Oklahoma? After overseeing the first three drives of the game, drives that produced a measly three points after the defense forced a Wagner turnover, he alternated between slowly pacing the sideline and standing alone as Hunt put a stranglehold on playing time.
Though Allen wore his helmet, it would no longer be needed. Not until mop-up duty midway through the third quarter. Not until his job had been unequivocally lost.
Hunt brought life to the Syracuse offense in two distinct ways Saturday, adding dimensions that, with Allen in charge, were nonexistent. For two weeks the SU running backs had trudged forward for minimal gains, and neither Jerome Smith nor Prince-Tyson Gulley had topped 100 yards. Out of the shotgun, they struggled. From the pistol, they stumbled.
And by the second half their talents were rendered useless courtesy of deficits on the scoreboard.
But under the guidance of Hunt, a former 1,000-yard rusher in high school, stagnation gave way to stupendous. The zone read, predicated on the threat of a quarterback tucking and running himself, took on new dimensions. All of the Syracuse running backs -- from Smith to Gulley to George Morris to Devante McFarlane -- ate up yards in chunks. Their combined yards per carry clocked in at an impressive 4.7 yards per attempt.
The defense finally had to account for Hunt's legs, which churned out 22 yards on three attempts, and could no longer collapse on whichever tailback lined up at his side. The result was Syracuse's most balanced offensive game of the season.
With the running game rebooted, Hunt found passing lanes down the field to carve apart a Wagner defense playing miles above its pay grade. He involved wide receiver Jarrod West in the offense for the first time this season, finding him for back-to-back third down conversions in the first quarter and later connecting on a 65-yard bomb down the middle of the field.
Hunt delivered a beautifully thrown ball that arched high above the Carrier Dome turf and hit West in stride, the trajectory bringing it back down to Earth just beyond the reach of Wagner defensive back Deangelo James.
As West celebrated in the end zone, Hunt jumped into the arms of offensive lineman Ivan Foy. For five straight drives he had navigated the Wagner defense with ease, putting points on the board at a Northwestern-esque rate.
Being hoisted up by Foy was the perfect pedestal.
Midway through the third quarter, with Syracuse leading by 47, Hunt was replaced by the man whose job he had stolen. Allen re-entered and threw a touchdown to Christopher Clark in the back of the end zone.
Too little, too late.