EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is making the most of his final year of college eligibility.
The graduate transfer from Maryland caught 12 passes for a school-record 270 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange beat UConn 31-24 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.
Etta-Tawo scored twice in the game’s first five minutes on touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. His 59-yard catch from the shadow of his team’s goal line highlighted a 12-play 99-yard fourth-quarter drive that put the game away for the Orange (2-2).
It was his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.
“It goes back to chemistry with the quarterback and the coaches trusting me,” Etta-Tawo said. “They trust that I’ll make the plays and they keep on giving me opportunities to make the plays.”
Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for 407 yards and those two scores. He also scored on a 6-yard run to complete the length-of the field drive.
“We had to do it,” said Etta-Tawo. “We had to drive down the field and try to put the game out, and that’s exactly what we did. Everybody dug in, dug a little deeper.”
Noel Thomas had 14 receptions for 111 yards for UConn (2-2). Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.
It took Syracuse just 51 seconds on its first drive and 92 seconds on its second for Dungey and Etta-Tawo to make it 14-0. Etta-Tawo had five catches for 115 yards in the first quarter.
“I think he’s already passed his previous career high as a collegian in the first four games with us, (more than) his whole entire career he had at the other school,” coach Dino Babers said. “I think, if you asked him, I think he might have made a good choice (to transfer).”
The Huskies responded by scoring twice in the second quarter and for the second straight week, the Orange couldn’t hold the early double-digit lead.
“We can’t just go up 14-0, 17-0 in the beginning of the game and then put ourselves back in a dog fight,” said linebacker Zaire Franklin, who was in on 14 tackles. “Some of these games we’ve got to have it over by the beginning of the second quarter.”
Cordell Hudson pickup off a tipped pass from UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and ran 22-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that gave the Orange a 24-17 lead. It was just the second interception for the Orange this season.
The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after holder Tyler Davis, a former high school quarterback, hit tight end Tommy Myers with a 17-yard pass on a fake field goal to set the Huskies up at the Syracuse 8-yard line.
But Syracuse’s defense held, and linebacker Franklin stopped Shirreffs on a fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line with just over 6 minutes left. The Orange marched the length of the field to put the game away.
“Going back, I would probably buy some more time and throw it to the back of the end zone,” said Shirreffs, who threw a 24-yard touchdown to Davis with 33 seconds left to make the final score close. “I came up short. The linebacker made a good play and I didn’t.”
SYRACUSE: Etta-Tawo showed that he is an elite receiver. He beat UConn’s best defensive back, Jamar Summers in single coverage all afternoon. His 270 receiving yards tops the Syracuse record previously held by Scott Schwedes against Boston College in 1985. He’s now the only Syracuse receiver to record two 200-yard receiving games in the same season.
UCONN: Since the start of last season, 11 of UConn’s 17 games have been decided by a single score (eight points or fewer). The Huskies are now 6-5 in those games.
This was the second time this season the Huskies have been stuffed at the goal line in the fourth quarter. They lost to Navy 28-24 earlier this year when Ron Johnson’s second-down run with 16 seconds left was stopped and UConn could not get off another play.
SYRACUSE: The Orange close out their non-conference schedule next Saturday at noon when they play Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
UCONN: The Huskies return to conference play with a visit to Houston on Thursday night. The Huskies handed the Cougars their only loss last season, a 20-17 upset in East Hartford. UConn is 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference this year after losing to Navy.
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