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Will Grier-less West Virginia falls in Camping World Bowl

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, 9:24 p.m.
West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy is tackled by Syracuse defensive back Evan Foster after gaining yardage during the first half of the Camping World Bowl on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Orlando, Fla.
West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy is tackled by Syracuse defensive back Evan Foster after gaining yardage during the first half of the Camping World Bowl on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Syracuse sent Eric Dungey out a winner and got a good look at its future.

Dungey capped his record-setting college career by throwing for 303 yards, Abdul Adams and Trishton Jackson combined to score three touchdowns in their Syracuse debuts and the 17th-ranked Orange got their first 10-win season since 2001 by topping No. 15 West Virginia, 34-18, in the Camping World Bowl on Friday.

“The trophy is really, really heavy,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “And I’m glad we got it.”

The Orange (10-3) ended with a flourish, too: Down 18-17 going into the final quarter, they scored 17 points in the first 5:01 of the fourth.

“Just very thankful,” Dungey said, talking through tears. “I’ve been through a lot. … All I want to do is compete. I’ll get grief for crying, but I’ve been through a lot here. All I can say is I’m very thankful.”

Jack Allison, making his first collegiate start because West Virginia star quarterback Will Grier elected to skip the bowl game and focus on preparing for the NFL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards for the Mountaineers (8-4). Besides Grier, West Virginia was also without two of his three top targets this season: Gary Jennings was ruled out long ago with an ankle injury, and Marcus Simms was a surprise scratch.

“I can make a bunch of excuses,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We played a good team. Give Coach Babers a lot of credit. They played good all year.”

He also gave Allison high marks. Allison had thrown 10 passes this season before Friday.

“Proud of him,” Holgorsen said. “He’s had how many snaps this year, 10, 11? I thought his demeanor was good.”

Kennedy McCoy had a 3-yard touchdown run for West Virginia on a direct snap, and Evan Staley made four field goals for the Mountaineers.

Adams rushed for two first-half scores, and Jackson hauled in a TD pass from Dungey on the first play of the fourth quarter for Syracuse, which prevailed in a game that featured eight lead changes. Adams (from Oklahoma) and Jackson (from Michigan State) are transfers who had to sit out a year, which by NCAA rule was satisfied at the end of the first semester.

Their touchdowns counted; their year will not. Under the new NCAA rule on redshirting, Adams and Jackson still have two remaining seasons of eligibility, and both are expected to play big roles for the Orange in 2019.

“It’s going to be fun to watch Syracuse in the future,” Dungey said.

The Mountaineers fell in a bowl game for the third consecutive season but probably have a good idea about their starting quarterback in 2019. Allison had nine completions go for more than 15 yards.

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