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Riley Dixon cushions Syracuse defense with booming punts

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Riley Dixon first wanted to make sure he didn’t have to make a tackle.His punt with just more than two minutes left in regulation was deflected inside Central Michigan territory, and instinct told him to look behind for the ball. But instead, it was fluttering toward the 20-yard line, then rolling to the 15 and settling to a stop at the 10.“As I saw it going down there, it’s a relief,” Dixon said. “… That one, it got off and two, it’s down there.”On Saturday, even when Central Michigan blocked Dixon’s punt, it couldn’t catch a break. The senior launched five punts with an average of 50.4 yards, placing three inside the 20-yard line and two within 6 yards of the goal line.As SU’s offense struggled to move the chains without starting quarterback Eric Dungey, Dixon flipped the field enough to give an overworked defense ample field to work with in Syracuse’s (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) 30-27 overtime win against the Chippewas (1-2).AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“He’s probably the most valuable player on our team,” linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “I heard he had a Heisman campaign going, I think that was a joke on Twitter.”Dixon’s first punt went 46 yards, and he took a seat on the sideline for the next three drives as SU built a 14-point lead. But after Dungey left the game with an upper-body injury, Austin Wilson threw an incomplete pass on third down in the ensuing drive, and Dixon pinned the Chippewas at their own 5.The visitors went three-and-out, failing to make it out past the 6.“It’s easier to drive yourself from the 50 going in. It’s harder to start from inside the 10 or the 5,” offensive tackle Omari Palmer said. “It helps so much to have someone like that when the position battle was just like one of the biggest parts of the game.”Dixon punted twice as much in the second half as the first, logging attempts of 43, 60, 52 and 36 yards. His 50-plus-yard average was over 8 yards more than his previous average high this season and a clean 8 yards more than his average from last year.With SU holding the ball for almost a third of the time that CMU did in the second half, Dixon was called on to bail out an offense that couldn’t get down the field. He spoke humbly about his role in the field-position battle, playing down what others didn’t hesitate on.“Riley is an extreme weapon,” Franklin said. “He’s an X-factor.” Comments Published on September 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidmanlast_img read more