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John Sexton / Gavel Media

Ryan O'Keefe Injured in Comeback Win vs. Virginia

Boston College Football (2-3) overcame a 7-21 halftime deficit versus Virginia (0-5) on Family Weekend at Chestnut Hill to win 27-24, but the first ACC victory of the season was soured by graduate wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe’s fourth quarter neck injury.

O’Keefe suffered the injury in a collision with defensive back Malcolm Greene, who was also injured. Jeff Hafley had no updates on the injury after the game, but on Sunday morning via X, O’Keefe thanked “the medical staff at BC and Mass General for taking really good care of [him] & allowing [him] to start the recovery process.” The story of the game outside the injury was BC’s comeback effort after an ugly first half that ended in a Hail Mary touchdown scored by Virginia. While quarterback Thomas Castellanos struggled with accuracy and 2 interceptions in the half, he and wide receiver Lewis Bond — who logged 7 catches on 9 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown — got hot in the second half. Castellanos ended the game with 261 combined yards and a pair of scores. BC’s big guys also made a difference, as stout blocking on offense and 5 sacks on defense kept them in the game.

Virginia quarterback Tony Muskett got off to a hot start, scoring on his opening drive with a short pass to Mike Hollins out of the backfield.

After trading punts on the next two drives, a 25-yard return by Lewis Bond set up the Eagles around the Virginia 40 yard line. O’Keefe broke loose past the secondary on one play, but Castellanos instead turned a short pass to George Takacs, who could not reel it in. The Eagles thus went three-and-out, but Jeff Hafley elected to go for it on fourth: Castellanos let loose downfield but was picked off by Perris Jones, effectively an arm punt.

After another Virginia punt, Castellanos was picked-off again, this time by Josh Ahern. Working with a short field, the Cavaliers capitalized, capping the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Malik Washington, who exploded past the Eagles’ secondary. Both teams traded punts on the next four drives.

Boston College then took over with a minute and a half left in the half and was able to get the ball down field, thanks to a defensive pass interference penalty. In one of the plays of the game for the Eagles, Lewis Bond then made a catch-and-run along the sideline for 34 yards to put BC in the red zone. With Kye Robichaux out with a foot injury, Pat Garwo III got the start, and was able to finish the drive up the middle for a short score, cutting the deficit to 7-14 just before halftime.

But the Cavaliers kept their foot on the gas. As players on both teams began jogging off the field on what would have been the final play of the half, a helmet had come off during the play, and by rule the clock was stopped and three seconds were added. The BC front seven put pressure on Muskett on the final play as he let loose to the endzone, a jump-ball brought down by Malachi Fields for a touchdown with all zeros on the clock, making the halftime score 7-21.

The play was shocking, but the Eagles had been there before. After the game, Hafley commented, “I thought in the second quarter the defense took control… other than that Hail Mary…. I don’t think we were deflated… maybe I’m crazy, but I felt it. And yeah, I guess the Hail Mary did deflate us.”

BC received out of the break, and the game plan appeared to be back-to-basics, with the run game led by Castellanos and Garwo featuring more prominently; the drive ended in three points, making the score 10-24. The Eagles' defense got another stop on the next drive, and kept rolling with a long run by Alex Broome thanks to some strong blocking, followed by a pass interference penalty that put the Eagles close. It was Griffin who scored on a 4-yard catch from Castellanos to make the score 17-21 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter.

After getting called for pass interference on the following drive, Boston College defensive back Elijah Jones came up with a great diving pick on Tony Muskett. The Eagles were then finally able to take their first lead of the game as Lewis Bond got blocks to break away a wide receiver screen for a 33-yard score.

As the game moved into the quarter, O'Keefe was injured at 14:07. After a long wait, the BC defense held strong, forcing another punt, but Garwo fumbled the ball on the following drive. UVA punted yet again, and BC fumbled yet again, as a nice gain turned into a turnover as Griffin lost the ball after a catch. The Cavaliers then capitalized, scoring a field goal.

Tied at 24, a 21-yard catch by Lewis Bond moved BC to the UVA 40 with just over five minutes on the clock. On 4th and 1, Hafley was once again aggressive, as Garwo pushed through the middle to extend the drive with 3:34 remaining. The Eagles could not get another first down, but found themselves in field goal range with 2:11 on fourth down. Liam Connor managed to squeak the ball over the crossbar for what would be the game winning field goal, good for 42 yards. Needing a score, the Cavaliers took the field. On fourth down, Muskett’s pass missed his man and fell to the ground, clinching the victory for the Eagles.

After the game, Jeff Hafley gave his thoughts on what changed for his team at halftime: “Speeches only go so far. So what you say in there, you get them all fired up to run out of the tunnel, that doesn’t last. It’s who they are in here, and how resilient, and how much they trust and believe in their team. And yeah, we made some adjustments. We have to coach at halftime, and I thought we did that. I thought we picked up the tempo on offense, and on defense.” Lewis Bond’s thoughts? “We just got hot.”

The Eagles will try to stay hot at West Point (2-2) at noon on Saturday, October 11.

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