CHESTNUT HILL, MA — The Boston College Eagles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) shocked the doubters with a 14-point comeback win (24-21) against the Texas State Bobcats (1-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) in Jeff Hafley’s first home game as head coach.
In Alumni Stadium, cardboard cutout fans were left speechless after witnessing Hafley’s dynamic offense march down the field and manage time perfectly to set up a game winning field goal with just a few seconds left to end the game.
Imagine the Eagles one year ago, down late in the game with a win potentially on the line. Any fair-weather BC fans would know better than to torture themselves into thinking Steve Addazio could manage to pull off a comeback.
Times have changed with our new coach in town; Jeff Hafley proved on Saturday why the fans should never count his team out.
Despite not having a lead for the entire game, Hafley coached the Eagles back from a 14-point deficit to earn BC’s first double-digit comeback win in over 10 years. The last double-digit win was against Virginia Tech in 2007 when some guy named Matt Ryan played at Boston College.
Hafley stated after the game, “They didn’t flinch. They didn’t point fingers. Instead, they delivered, and I’m really proud of them.”
BC’s rally can be credited to its new look offense, which included much more passing and new plays that fans would never have seen in the Addazio Era. BC’s Phil Jurkovec passed for 270 yards (26 for 38) and a touchdown, coupled with two rushing touchdowns of his own.
Although Jurkovec had a befuddling interception at the end of the first half, his performance was overall solid and he proved that he can lead his team to the end zone during crunch-time.
Jurkovec’s success can largely be attributed to the performance by senior tight end Hunter Long. Long was spectacular with a career-high nine receptions for 81 yards, including a clutch touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter.
One interesting aspect of the game was how the empty stadium affected the atmosphere. In years past, Alumni Stadium would have been packed to the brim for the first home game.
Unfortunately, Baldwin’s adamant cheering could not compensate for the several thousand fans missing, and thus Texas State enjoyed much less pressure. This helped the Bobcats dominate on offense throughout the contest; it seemed they could make plays in basically any fashion they desired.
Meanwhile, their defense handled the Eagles pretty easily as the recorded cheers blasting over the sound system caused little distraction.
However, the lack of fans seemed to hurt Texas State’s momentum in the second half. BC’s offense made the right adjustments at halftime and cleaned up the sloppy mistakes it made before.
Hafley had Jurkovec passing all over Texas State’s defense while BC’s Travis Levy and David Bailey spearheaded the ground assault. After a successful 11-play drive, Jurkovec dove into the end zone and cut the deficit down to seven as BC trailed 14-21.
The touchdown cued someone to ring a massive bell, sending thunderous clangs throughout the empty stadium. At first, the bell sounded like tolling bells at the Eagles' funeral, but there was still plenty of game left to play.
If someone walked into Alumni Stadium at the end of the third quarter, he or she would have witnessed quite a bizarre sight. There were 400 cardboard fans seated behind both end zones, while both teams huddled on the sidelines preparing for the fourth quarter, the stadium lights flashing sporadically.
Most of the fourth was a defensive standoff, with both teams shutting each other down and forcing several punts. BC’s defense was led by redshirt-junior linebacker Isaiah McDuffie, who was running all over the place and racked up 12 tackles.
With the game clock at 1:11 in the final quarter, Hafley stepped up. Thanks to his play-calling, BC was able to quickly march down the field and score to tie the game at 21-21.
The Eagles' defense stepped up one final time for a quick three-and-out to give the Eagles the ball back with just enough time.
Then, BC’s Aaron Boumerhi booted the ball 36 yards right between the uprights to end the game with a score of 24-21.
Boston College will return to Alumni Stadium next week as it looks to face No. 12 University of North Carolina (1-0, 1-0 ACC). All eyes will yet again be on Jeff Hafley to see how he handles his first-ranked opponent.
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