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Eagles' Late Push Falls Short Against Seminoles

It was the worst déjà vu for Boston College. 

Florida State’s James Blackman stepped back in the pocket and lobbed the football to a wide-open receiver. In 2018, Tamorian Terry caught a 74-yard pass with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter to give FSU a one-point lead and the win. In 2019, D.J. Matthews caught a pass on a slant route, juked out three defenders, and ran for a 60-yard TD with 1:48 left to regain the lead.

Boston College lost to FSU for the second straight year 38-31 in its annual Red Bandana game on Saturday afternoon.

After finding limited offensive success in the first half and entering the second half down 14-10, FSU had a momentum-shifting third quarter. FSU’s defense held BC to zero points in the third, and its offense scored 21 straight points.

FSU’s first touchdown of the second half came on an opening seven-play, 65-yard drive. RB Jordan Travis ran right along the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown to put FSU up 17-14. Four drives later, FSU had another successful drive that ended in a 13-yard Cam Akers run to cap off 21 straight points and give the Seminoles a 24-14 lead.

With nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, BC was pinned to its 10-yard-line. The Eagles went on a 90-yard TD drive to tie the game. On a play action pass, QB Dennis Grosel rolled right, kept the ball, and ran for the score to tie the game at 24 apiece. 

Unfortunately, BC’s defense was unable to get a stop and gave up two touchdowns in the final two minutes.

The Eagles’ offense had decent success throughout the day, totaling 508 yards on the day. Running back AJ Dillon was a driving force of the offense, running for 165 yards on a career-high 40 attempts. Grosel threw for a career-high 227 yards, two TDs, and an interception. He also ran for 30 yards and a touchdown.

“Yeah, we knew heading in that we were going to need a little more balance than we've had the past couple weeks,” said Dennis Grosel. “I was pretty happy with the way our pass and run game married up this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

BC’s David Bailey left the game early with an injury. The extent of his injury was not known at the time of the press conference.

While the offense played relatively strong, BC’s defense gave up too many big plays. FSU had three touchdowns that were longer than 60 yards. Blackmon threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns, which were 74-yards and 60-yards, while Travis ran for a 66-yard TD. The Seminoles offense had 524 yards total. 

“Listen, you know, this isn't complicated,” said Eagles Head Coach Steve Addazio. “We lost a fair number of players on defense, and we've got some very talented young players that we're trying to plug in on defense right now, and they're young. And we have to continue to grow and develop with these guys.”

This season, BC has lost safeties Mike Palmer and Connor Greico to injuries. The team also lost a slew of defensive talent to the NFL draft, which has been noticeable throughout a weak defensive season.

As a result, the Eagles defense is much younger this season, with tackling being one of the main issues. Addazio and some players partially attributed the defensive difficulties this season to the youth of the team.

“I mean, we've got guys that haven't started previously, but they've had enough playing time and experience to limit, I guess, that excuse,” said LB Jon Lamot. “So I feel like that shouldn't be an excuse anymore. It's not really an excuse in the first place. So yeah, I feel like we've just got to play better.”

FSU’s win comes just a week after firing Willie Taggart as head coach, with Odell Haggins taking over as the Seminole’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Haggins has served three games as interim head coach and is 3-0 as head coach. Two of his wins came in 2017 after he served as head coach for the final two games of that season. 

After its sixth annual Red Bandanna game, the Eagles are now 3-3 in the tribute game. The annual event is held in honor of the late BC lacrosse player Welles Crowther who sacrificed his life to save the lives of others during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

The Eagles have had three straight bowl seasons; however, their bowl eligibility is in trouble after this loss. The Eagles have two more road games to try and get to the six-win mark. BC has a bye-week next week, before taking on catholic rival Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 23 in South Bend, Indiana at 2:30 p.m.