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Photo Courtesy of BC Football / Twitter

Strong First Half Not Enough, Eagles Fall to No. 1 Clemson

Keeping with the Halloween spirit, Boston College gave the top-ranked Clemson Tigers a scare on Saturday, jumping out to an 18-point first-half lead before ultimately losing 34-28.

Clemson appeared vulnerable with Heisman-favorite Trevor Lawrence sidelined after he tested positive for COVID-19. The Eagles found the end -zone four times in the first half, with a 97-yard fumble return touchdown by cornerback Brandon Sebastian officially putting Clemson on upset alert. An outstanding touchdown catch by CJ Lewis right before halftime looked like a potential game-winner for BC, but quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei marched the Tigers down the field for a field goal to keep Clemson within two scores heading into the break.

Boston College was the first team to hold a lead against the Tigers this season, but a strong second half from Dabo Swinney’s offense will likely haunt this upstart Eagles team. Travis Etienne gashed the defense throughout. The standout running back racked up 224 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, including a fourth quarter run that put the Tigers in the lead for good.

Phil Jurkovec had another strong performance, but a spotty second half from the entire offense allowed Clemson to climb back into the game ahead of next week’s critical matchup against Notre Dame. The sophomore quarterback was hit often and had to leave the game for a crucial fourth down that backup Dennis Grosel converted. An injury to Jurkovec would likely sink the Eagles.

Frank Cignetti Jr.’s offense has been a departure from the Steve Addazio-led groups of years past. The announcers pointed out that Jurkovec has accounted for 79% of Boston College’s scrimmage yards this season. The running game was once again nonexistent, with the Eagles managing just 67 yards on the ground.

While performances like Saturday’s are certainly encouraging for a program which has not had this level of excitement surrounding it in years, the Eagles will need more from their running backs to build on this season’s early success. It’s difficult to topple an elite opponent like Clemson with such a one-dimensional attack, and the Eagles clearly missed last year’s running back A.J. Dillon in Death Valley.

Luckily for the Eagles, the schedule gets a bit more forgiving from here. Syracuse is up next ahead of a home date with No. 4 Notre Dame in two weeks. Lawrence’s absence was obviously a major reason why Boston College was able to keep things close against Clemson, but the game against the Fighting Irish is another opportunity to play spoiler in the ACC.

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Born and raised in New Jersey, but I’m a Wisconsinite at heart. I talk way too much about the Green Bay Packers, Bruce Springsteen, and It’s Always Sunny.