After a sloppy first half in a hostile Lane Stadium, halftime adjustments proved to be the catalyst for a 31-21 win for the Boston College football team against Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles entered Blacksburg at 6-2 on the season, coming off a huge win at home against Miami for the Red Bandana Game.
Despite a slow start offensively against a poor Virginia Tech defense, Coach Addazio and Anthony Brown managed to relax and figure things out for the Eagles in the second half. Travis Levy led the late game onslaught on the ground after star running back AJ Dillon came up limping on a play in the third quarter.
BC hit the ground running to start the game, with the offensive line creating big holes for AJ Dillon to run through. It didn’t take long for them to get on the board, as Dillon stretched the ball across the goal line with about seven minutes left in the first quarter. Virginia Tech answered quickly, however, when quarterback Ryan Willis–who was filling in for an injured Josh Jackson–threw a 26-yard lob to Damon Hazleton, who did a fantastic job of boxing out a smaller defender, to even the score at 7-7 about two minutes later.
The Hokies managed to seamlessly adjust on the defensive side of the ball by loading the box and slowing down AJ Dillon, giving Anthony Brown the opportunity to pick apart a spaced-out secondary. Unfortunately, Brown didn’t look quite like himself early in the game, short-arming several throws and missing a wide-open Michael Walker downfield on a play that could’ve led to a touchdown.
Virginia Tech’s offense took over early in the second and managed to pull ahead 14-7 on a precise outside-of-the-shoulder throw by Willis. The half ended with the Hokies on top after another strong drive was stopped short, and a late BC Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete.
In the third quarter, BC’s defensive line finally looked like the dominant unit it has been all season, allowing the Hokies to pick up only a yard on three quick plays to start the second half.
Offensively, Anthony Brown seemed to settle down and was leading the Eagles’ offense downfield before he fumbled away possession on a mistimed option deep in Virginia Tech territory. AJ Dillon was shaken up on BC’s next possession after being pushed out of bounds on a run; Travis Levy did more than enough to fill his spot as he broke one down the middle to tie the game up at 14.
From there, it didn’t take much time for the Eagles to pull ahead. A bobbled interception by Brandon Sebastian set up a Brown strike over the middle to a wide open Korab Idrizi. With the offense now controlling the flow of the game, Coach Addazio made a gutsy move to go for a 4th and 1 in his own half late in the third quarter. Anthony Brown couldn’t get the push he needed from his teammates to convert on a quarterback sneak, but luckily the Hokies couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, missing a 28-yard field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech attempted a fourth and short of their own in their own half, but tight coverage and pressure on Ryan Willis rendered his pass incomplete.
BC wouldn’t squander this opportunity to pad their lead, as Anthony Brown and Travis Levy led the Eagles to the goal line with their feet by shedding off would be tacklers on some impressive runs. From the one-yard line, Levy made the score line 28-14 in favor of the Eagles and silenced a rowdy Hokie crowd by punching in the ball on a second effort.
The VT faithful wouldn’t stay quiet for long, though. Quarterback Ryan Willis threw another great ball to the back of the end zone to make it a one score game at 28-21 with under five minutes to play. Anthony Brown, who looked nervous and shaken in the first half, kept his composure with the game on the line and threw an inch-perfect strike to tight end Tommy Sweeney on the sideline, who stayed in bounds for a massive gain out past midfield.
BC’s experienced offensive line, along with Travis Levy in place of AJ Dillon, did excellent work to continue to punish Virginia Tech’s leaky run defense and eat away at the clock. The drive ended when Colton Lichtenberg put the game out of reach with a 28-yard field goal to make the score 31-21; the game ended like that after a failed 4th and long attempt by VT.
The huge road win by BC puts them at 7-2 on the season, with heavy momentum as the biggest game of the year looms next Saturday when No. 2 Clemson comes to Chestnut Hill. Crowd energy will be at the highest levels in years on campus, as ESPN announced that College GameDay would be coming to The Heights for the first time since 2009 for the game against Clemson.
It will take a herculean effort by the offensive line and a healthy AJ Dillon to put up points on a stingy Tiger defense. If the offense and Anthony Brown pick up where they left off in the second half of the VT game, BC will have a great chance of pulling off the huge win at home. With the GameDay crew on campus and an ABC primetime game Saturday night at 8 p.m., the stage is set for the Eagles to pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history with the nation watching.
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