Shea Field’s tailgate and Alumni Stadium rocked for the first game of the season, but the Boston College Eagles football team could not hold onto an impressive early lead. The visiting Miami Hurricanes upended BC, 41-32, in the 2012 season opener for both teams. The Eagles drop to 0-1 heading into next week’s home contest with Maine.
Boston College received the kick to start the game, and what ensued was a virtually flawless drive in which BC went 75 yards in seven plays to go ahead 7-0. Then, out came the Eagles defense, holding Stephen Morris and the Hurricanes to a three-and-out. Spenser Rositano muffed the punt, which was quickly recovered by Manny Asprilla, but the BC offense came out again and shined. Rettig and his team went 70 yards on nine plays to give the Eagles a quick 14-0 lead.
As if things couldn’t have gone any more swimmingly, Morris was then intercepted by Rositano as the Hurricanes drove into plus territory. Unfortunately for BC, this was their peak. As the first quarter went on, Miami began to gain a little momentum, and after forcing a BC three-and-out (run, run, pass, punt, like in the good old days), Miami went 83 yards in 13 plays to get on the scoreboard.
It took exactly two plays from scrimmage thereafter for Miami to tie the game. On 2nd & 3, Chase Rettig threw a 41-yard pick-six to Denzel Perryman, knotting the score at 14-14.
At the start of the second quarter, BC drove down the field for a field goal, retaking a 17-14 lead. Miami answered with a quick strike, going 77 yards in four plays, capped off by a 54-yard touchdown run by Duke Johnson to give the Hurricanes their first lead at 21-17. From there, the Eagles would respond again, but only with another three points, as Nate Freese knocked it through to cut BC’s deficit to one point heading into the half.
Boston College scored the first points of the second half, tacking on a field goal after a 60-yard drive to take a 23-21 lead, which is the last time BC would be in front. The Eagles defense held Miami in a goal-to-go situation and the Hurricanes took the points, going up 24-23 with 5:06 to go in the third.
Duke Johnson made sure we know his name, however. The Eagles punted on their next possession, but Johnson torched BC’s run defense again, this time scoring from 56 yards out to put Miami ahead, 31-23. The two teams traded punts, until the Eagles got the ball back and Andre Williams made a critical mistake by fumbling inside BC’s own 10 yard line. Fortunately for Boston College, the defense held and Miami settled for a 34-23 advantage.
The turning point of the game happened early in the fourth quarter: Boston College was driving, but Tahj Kimble got stripped deep in Miami territory and Miami’s Ladarius Gunter returned it 28 yards the other way. In total, the Eagles fumbled six times during the game. On the ensuing drive, Miami wrapped the game up with a touchdown to go ahead, 41-23.
Boston College showed some late life, answering with a touchdown on an 84-yard drive to make it a 41-30 game. It was the first time since BC scored 31 against Central Michigan on Halloween 2009 that the Eagles broke 30 points against an FBS team, ending a streak of 27-straight games below that total. The defense held and the Eagles got the ball back, but when at the goal line, the referees created some controversy. They first called Spiffy Evans short of the plane on third down, and did the same again for Chase Rettig on fourth down, giving Miami the ball on the one-inch line. Frank Spaziani challenged, but there was no conclusive video evidence, despite the fact that the call on the field was likely incorrect. Finally, Miami took an intentional safety instead of punting, giving us the final 41-32 margin.
There is a lot to take apart here in the next week. The BC offense was unquestionably improved, with Chase Rettig having arguably the best game of his BC career and the offensive line definitely better than in recent seasons. Doug Martin’s playcalling was bold and aggressive, while Jim Bollman’s tweaks to the line did wonders against Miami. Rettig had time and aside from the pick-six, he looked sharp. BC’s 541 yards of total offense were the most they’ve had in a very long while.
A few of BC’s problems were on offense, as the Eagles had to have dropped about ten passes during the game and they couldn’t keep from fumbling. Though BC only lost two, they fumbled six times. Otherwise, the defense was hit or miss. They truly were not responsible for all 41 points allowed, including the pick-six and the field goal after the Williams fumble, but they got gashed several times. Thanks in part to Duke Johnson, the Eagles allowed 207 rushing yards, 110 of which came on two long touchdown runs. The Hurricanes also converted on third down eleven times during the game and the Eagles missed a number of tackles that allowed Miami to tack on extra yardage.
For a while, it seemed like this was a truly different BC team. The offense showed its first signs of life against an FBS team in years, and Chase Rettig has never been better. It might still be a different sort of season, but today, dumb fundamental mistakes ultimately cost Boston College a victory.