Things We Learned: Maryland 24, BC 21
|10.23.10 at 6:20 pm ET|
CHESTNUT HILL– This is getting old for BC.
A fourth-down rushing attempt by Montel Harris fell just short of the first down, sealing the Maryland victory. Harris, who put up a great game with 27 rushes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, also committed a game-changing fumble at his own 38 in the first half. It resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. Chase Rettig threw a pair of interceptions.
The first set up Maryland’s third touchdown and the second killed a momentum-generating drive late in the first half. Despite a fourth quarter rally from the Eagles, the BC offense fell short of the comeback with a 24-21 loss—their fifth straight defeat.
Three BC starters were also injured in the game, included safety Wes Davis who was rolled off the field on a stretcher. Senior DE Alex Albright suffered what appeared to be a serious right ankle injury in the first quarter. He was spotted on crutches on the sidelines in the second half and didn’t return.
“I didn’t get the official word from the doc but it did not look like he was going to be out there pretty soon,” Spaziani sounding an ominous tone.
Turnovers have killed BC all year and this game was no different.
“Obviously three turnovers to zero was a tilting factor in the game. We just don’t have the winning edge right now,” said coach Frank Spaziani. “Until we get it, we’re going to be doing the horseshoe thing…getting close.”
The Maryland offense responded to the challenge thanks to some BC miscues and an impressive first half by quarterback Danny O’Brien, taking a 21-7 lead into halftime. Maryland struck first with a 48-yard drive that finished with a 2-yard touchdown pass from O’Brien to wide receiver Torrey Smith. The Terrapins converted two fourth downs on the drive against a BC defense that had been stingy up until Saturday.
Their inability to get off the field on third and fourth down also played a huge role in the loss. Maryland converted two of their three fourth-down chances and a blistering 10-of-19 on third down.
BC responded with their longest touchdown drive of the season, capped off by Rettig’s 3-yard pass to Bobby Swigert. The drive covered 75 yards over 8 minutes, nine seconds and tied the game at 7-7. The drive meant much more for BC than just seven points; it was the type of drive that BC had failed to finish off all season.
One early highlight for the BC faithful was Harris’ 84-yard first half which pushed the junior over 3,000 rushing yards for his career.
However, BC would soon be haunted by miscues that have been their undoing over the five-game losing skid. Harris fumbled at the BC 38-yard line to set up an O’Brien touchdown to wide out Ronnie Tyler for a 9-yard completion, putting the Terrapins up 14-7. Only a few minutes later, Rettig threw an interception to Antwine Perez at the BC 33-yard line, leading to another O’Brien touchdown to Kerry Boykins for a 6-yard completion.
Down 21-7, the Eagles mounted one final drive before the end of the half, but Rettig’s pass to Swigert was intercepted by Perez—his second pick of the game—with 21 seconds left in the half.
Boston College spent the second half playing catch-up. The Eagles regained their defensive form, allowing only three points in the second half. Maryland scored the only points of the third quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Travis Baltz to bring the Maryland lead to 24-7.
After failing to score in the third quarter, the Eagles rallied with a 10-play, 70-yard drive that finished with a Harris touchdown run. Early in the fourth, a 23-yard pass to Ifeanyi Momahset the Eagles up with a first and goal at the Maryland 7-yard line. Three Harris runs later, the Eagles reached the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 24-14 with 11 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game.
Trailing for the entire game, the BC offense finally caught a break. With over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, a Rettig pass intended for Momah was tipped and hauled in by Swigert behind the secondary for a 63-yard gain to the Maryland 3-yard line. Harris would cap off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to bring the Eagles one step closer while trailing 24-21.
A suddenly-energized Eagles squad forced the Terrapins to punt. Harris returned the punt 26 yards to bring the Eagles into Maryland territory, but the opportunity was squandered when freshman wide out Shakim Phillips dropped a potential first-down pass.
After stopping Maryland on a fourth down run that would seal the game, the Eagles attempted one final drive with 1 minute, 50 seconds left in the game. On fourth-and-one, BC called on the hot hand, giving the ball to Harris on a draw play only to fall inches short of the first down. Maryland was able to take a knee and end any chances for a BC comeback.
Wes Davis suffers neck injury
A somber moment for the Eagles occurred with 3:47 left in the third quarter when senior captain Davis fell on the far sideline with a neck injury. Davis remained on the field for some time while medical personal attended him. He was ultimately rolled off of the field in a stretcher; however he reportedly is able to move his extremities.
Davis entered Saturday’s game fourth on the team with 30 tackles and an interception against Kent State. Davis has been a mainstay of the Eagles secondary for the last three seasons, with 26 starts to his credit. The personal and popular safety was taken to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for evaluation.
Davis, who also had a season-ending neck injury in 2007, underwent a CT scan and an MRI revealing no severe damage but he will stay in the hospital overnight for observation.
Captain defensive end Alex Albright suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. Albright has led the Eagles with 4.5 sacks and also has a team-high nine tackles for a loss. Albright’s career has been riddled with injuries. In 2007, Albright broke his left forearm and in 2008, played in only two games after requiring neck surgery.
Cornerback and returner DeLeon Gause also suffered a knee injury that forced him from the game. He would not return. Gause has started 27 games in his BC career and had four tackles before leaving the game. Gause also had a 66-yard interception return for a touchdown against Weber State in the season opener.
The three seniors are crucial fixtures of the BC defense and prolonged absences could mean trouble for the Eagles.
Montel Harris passes 3,000 yards rushing
Harris entered the game with 2,935 yards rushing as the sixth leading rusher in BC history, needing only 65 to enter the elite 3,000 yard club. Harris rushed for 84 yards in the first half, pushing him past the mark. He was the first BC running back to reach 3,000 yards since Derrick Knight, BC’s all-time leading rusher, in 2003. Harris finished the game with 116 yards to put him at 3,051 rushing yards in his BC career. In his junior year, Harris is fourth on the all-time rushing list behind Knight, Mike Cloud, and Troy Stradford. Stradford is third on the list with 3,504 yards, 453 yards ahead of Harris.
With two touchdowns, Harris tripled his production after only reaching the end zone once in the first six games. The performance also marked Harris’ 17th game with at least 100 yards rushing, the third-most all-time at The Heights.
Harris also returned punts for the Eagles, included a crucial 26-yard return to bring BC into Maryland territory with roughly five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Harris finished with three punt returns for 28 yards. On fourth-and-one with 1:13 seconds left, the Eagles called on Harris on a draw play, falling just inches short.
Sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly had another milestone day for BC after he registered 15 tackles against the Terrapins. Kuechly extended the nation’s longest streak of consecutive games with 10 or more tackles to 16 games and continues to be an elite linebacker on the national level. Kuechly also became the fastest BC player to record 200 tackles in a career earlier in the season just 17 games into his career.
Rettig settles down in second half
After struggling early and throwing two interceptions, Rettig led the BC offense down the field for two late scores in the fourth quarter. Rettig went 18-for-33 attempts for a career-high 189 yards passing and a touchdown. The freshman quarterback’s numbers were boosted slightly by the tipped pass to Swigert that resulted in a 63-yard gain but most importantly, Rettig made sure to avoid turning the ball over in the second half.
Rettig kept his composure in the second half and refused to let a 24-7 lead impair his decision making while keeping the ball away from the Maryland secondary.
“I thought he did some nice things but once again we left some plays out there,” said Spaziani on Rettig. “He made some good throws and he made some bad ones. He’s making progress. It’s just not resulting in the W’s that we need to see.”
Swigert had another big game for the Eagles and the freshman wide out has emerged as BC’s clear No. 1 receiver. Swigert finished the game with five catches for 77 yards and one touchdown. Also, sophomore tight end Chris Pantale recorded a career-high game with six catches for 56 yards.
For now it seems like Rettig will retain the starting job, after quarterbacks Mike Marscovetra and Dave Shinskie have struggled in the starting role.
Secondary far from complete
BC entered Saturday’s game ranked 93rd in overall pass defense in the nation – allowing an average of 239.17 yards per game. The secondary has been far from perfect, with opposing quarterbacks capitalizing on turnovers and field position. Strong safety Jim Noel had a breakout performance in his first BC start with ten tackles, two interceptions, and a touchdown against Florida State.
The BC secondary has always had a knack for creating turnovers, but the secondary has been especially porous compared to the stout rushing defense that ranks 10th in the nation giving up only 90.3 yards rushing per contest. Games against Notre Dame and NC State showed multiple holes in the secondary, especially on the sidelines.
O’Brien threw three quick touchdowns in the first half which proved to keep the game out of reach for the Eagles. O’Brien finished going 27-for-40 attempts with 182 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense performed better in the second half, but allowed a 3rd down completion late in the fourth quarter that could have given the BC offense more time for their final drive. The losses of Gause and Davis could prove even worse for a defense that has been called on to make up for offensive inconsistencies all season.