By:|Jorden Banks:|4.0 Sports Media
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — After relinquishing a 20-7 lead coach Dino Barbers decided to make a switch at the quarterback position.
Here comes redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy DeVito from New Jersey (Don Bosco Prep) to take over the reigns, leading Cuse (5-2, 2-2 ACC) to a 40-37 double-overtime victory over North Carolina (1-5, 1-3) Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
With the win, the Orange are just one win away of making its first postseason appearance since 2013.
With Dungey at the quarterback position, the Orange offense looked out of sync for most of the ballgame.
Eric Dungey finished 17 of 33 passing for 225 yards with no touchdowns. A big chunk of it came from a 68-yard sideline go route from their lengthy receiver Jamal Custis.
DeVito entered the game late in the fourth quarter, for the struggling Eric Dungey, and threw three touchdown passes for a career-best 181 yards. He hit tight-end Ravian Pierce on a 4-yard scoring play in the second overtime to spark his team for the win. Entering the game the redshirt freshman on his first play connected with receiver Jamal Custis on a 50-yard pass play.
“It meant a lot. It could have been devastating,” Syracuse running back Moe Neal said. “Another overtime game, not going our way. It was a great win.”
Do coach Babers have a quarterback controversy after this comeback win by Devito?
DeVito sent the game into overtime with a 42-yard touchdown rocket to Nykeim Johnson with 1:39 to go in the game. His 25-yard touchdown pass to Custis gave the Orange a lead in the first overtime until Tarheel’s quarterback Nathan Elliott’s 9-yard pass to Beau Corrales tied the game.
“I just thought it might be a spark,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “I just felt we needed to do something different. I just felt like they had a little bit of a beat on us. Sometimes when you change one character it throws off the defense. I don’t know if it worked or not. I’m just happy with the result.”
The Tarheels rallied from a 20-7 deficit to take a 27-20 lead with 10 minutes to go in the contest but dropped its third straight game. A 12-yard touchdown run by Antonio Williams and a 75-yard punt return by Dazz Newsome gave the Tar Heels a 21-20 lead. Two field goals by Freeman Jones gave them a 27-20 lead with 10:15 to go in regulation.
“By no means am I saying it’s a permanent change. We needed a little spark and obviously, the other guy came in and did some things well.”
Having played in the Big North Conference in New Jersey DeVito was ready to go and wasn’t fazed at all by being on the big stage.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking. I thought we had multiple opportunities to seal the game but we didn’t do that,” Elliott said.
North Carolina Elliott was 34 of 52 for 321 yards and two touchdowns for the Tarheels. Newsome also scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
The Tarheels trailed 20-7 less than a minute into the third quarter after Syracuse scored on a three-play, 54-second drive capped off by Dungey’s 16-yard run up the gut.
“Nothing changed when DeVito came in,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. “The guy had a career day. He just threw the ball and made some great plays; put the ball where it had to be so you have to give him credit.”
Syracuse will host NC State at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.