Eagles Look to Move on From Close Loss Against Duke

Following a nail-biting victory against MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois, Boston College traveled to Durham, North Carolina to face ACC opponent Duke. The Eagles entered the game without two key starters, sophomore quarterback Darius Wade—out with a season ending ankle injury—and starting running back Jon Hilliman, who is sidelined indefinitely with a broken foot.

Coach Addazio utilized a two-quarterback system throughout the game, with true freshman Jeff Smith and redshirt freshman Troy Flutie splitting time at the position. While both quarterbacks struggled to complete strong drives, they each showcased their strengths.

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Smith, who ran for 60 yards on 11 carries to lead the Eagles rushing attack, looked especially comfortable rolling out of the pocket. Midway through the second quarter, Smith threw a 25-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Thadd Smith in the left corner of the end zone. However, the officials said that Smith bobbled the ball and ruled the pass incomplete, much to the disappointment of Eagles fans and fury of Coach Addazio. Overall, Smith struggled to gain any consistency throwing the ball, and finished the game 3 for 13 with a mere 12 yards through the air.

On the other hand, Flutie proved a much more capable thrower, finishing with 129 passing yards, including a 66-yard strike at the end of the third quarter.  With the Eagles down 9-0, Flutie connected with sophomore wide receiver Thadd Smith for Boston College’s sole score of the game. Smith, who finished with 2 receptions for 99 yards, flashed his big play potential by shaking off Duke cornerback Breon Borders before bolting towards the end zone.

The undisputed highlight of the day, Flutie’s touchdown pass, was a promising sign for the team, which has struggled to execute big plays. Following the touchdown, the announcers immediately recalled the most iconic play in Boston College football history—Doug Flutie’s game winning Hail Mary against Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

Kristen Morse / Gavel Media

While Troy Flutie will inevitably face comparisons to his esteemed uncle, it remains to be seen how the quarterback battle will play out. While Flutie possesses one more year of experience and superior arm strength, Smith has shown moments of his Tyler Murphy-esque ability to run the ball and spread the field.

In his Monday address to the media, Coach Addazio expressed his intent to give both Flutie and Smith their chances to fully claim the starting job.

“In a perfect world, I’m not a two-quarterback guy. But I don’t think either one has taken [the starting job],” Addazio said.

For now, the offense will continue to experiment with both signal callers.

On the other side of the ball, Boston College’s defense remained stout, limiting Duke’s offense to a mere 33 rushing yards. While Duke led three sustained drives from its own territory, the Eagles forced the Blue Devils to kick three field goals, keeping them out of the end zone. Following Sherman Alston’s muffed punt in the third quarter, the Blue Devils drove to the doorstep of the end zone.

However, behind a tenacious defensive line, anchored by standouts Harold Landry and Connor Wujciak, the Eagles prevented Duke from capitalizing and caused a pivotal turnover when the team needed it most. While the offensive play remains sporadic, the defensive unit continues to keep the Eagles competitive. Through five games, the Eagles have only allowed four offensive touchdowns, and they remain the number one ranked defense in the nation.

After BC delivered yet another three-and-out, Duke's kicker botched his punt, granting the Eagles one final chance to win the game.  With three minutes remaining, Flutie took a big hit on a scramble to the right sideline and left the game. On third-and-two, Smith came into the game to replace Flutie and delivered two errant passes, killing any hope for an Eagle comeback.

With the Duke loss in the rear-view mirror, the Eagles (3-2) prepare to host another North Carolina opponent in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-3) this Saturday.  Wake Forest comes to Chestnut Hill following a tough loss to No. 12 Florida State.

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Proud Washingtonian, history enthusiast, and sports fanatic.