The Boston College football team faced a deeper and more talented opponent Saturday night, but kept itself in the game despite a costly missed extra point and quarterback Tyler Murphy having to play over his head. The Eagles didn’t have the offensive game breakers that Louisville did, yet for a while, they compensated with outstanding play calling, steady execution, and timely bailouts from Murphy. That formula produced a close loss against Clemson and wins over USC and Virginia Tech, and BC followed the blueprint against Louisville. What sustained the Eagles throughout most of the season and portions of Saturday night screeched to a stop, finally, and BC fell off the tightrope and onto its face, earning its third conference and fourth home loss of the year, 38-19.
“We have a lot of resiliency and all that and we play hard and tough, but we were just playing sloppy,” said BC head coach Steve Addazio. “And that sloppiness against a good opponent put us where we are right now, and that’s losing the football game. We’re a scrappy, tough team, but let’s not forget, we’re still a team that’s a real work in progress right now. Couple warts showed up tonight.”
Louisville’s first four trips into the red zone produced a turnover on downs, a fumble, and just 10 points. BC took advantage, jumping out to a 10 point lead. With BC leading 13-10 with 38 seconds left in the second half, Louisville blocked Alex Howell’s punt deep in Eagles territory. On the next play, Cardinals quarterback Reggie Bonnafon spotted all-world receiver DeVante Parker across from BC cornerback Justin Simmons. Bonnafon picked on Simmons for a 29-yard touchdown, taking a lead that BC never got back. The Eagles couldn’t afford to get their punt blocked because they don’t have a player like Parker, or anyone who could stop him. Parker finished the half with 144 receiving yards.
“Parker went up and made a couple of big time plays,” Addazio said. “Right up over everybody.”
Addazio is used to his receivers not being able to do what Parker can, but he can usually trust his O-line to compensate and give Murphy’s targets a little more time to separate. With BC still within one possession early in the fourth, Murphy drifted to his back foot in the face of Louisville pressure and fluttered a pass towards receiver Dan Crimmins. Cardinals safety Gerod Holliman jumped the route and picked it off, one of his three interceptions on the night. Holliman now leads the country with 13 picks. Crimmins has 20 catches on the season, which is second on the team by one catch.
The Eagles fought and found themselves within the Louisville 5-yard line minutes later. Now trailing 31-19, they were also in four-down territory because of a missed extra point and a subsequent failed two-point conversion. If there’s an area where BC can match Louisville, it was here. Short yardage, power football. But the Cardinals sniffed out BC’s shovel pass on second down, blew up Jon Hilliman behind the line of scrimmage with a run blitz on third down, and forced a wild, straight-out-of-Madden interception from Murphy on fourth down.
“I felt good about us scoring there and making it a 5-point game,” Addazio said, before emphasizing Louisville’s quality. “We played a really good football team, I know you guys know that, right? We played one of the top three most talented teams in this league.
“That was one of the elite teams in our league, let’s not forget that.”
BC couldn’t execute when it had to, and against Louisville, it really had to. The Eagles can’t tap into their talent reserves for big plays like Louisville can because those reserves don’t exist.
When asked what he had in store for his team’s upcoming bye week, Addazio said “rest.” That may be true for his players. But Addazio and his staff will watch the Louisville game again and then go recruit, searching for what would have made a difference on Saturday night.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor