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Clemson’s second-half surge ends BC’s early bid

09.29.12 at 9:46 pm ET
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Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd goes over BC safety Sean Sylvia (19) to score a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday's game in Chestnut Hill. (AP)

After three games and one win over an FCS opponent, Boston College had yet to find a spark offensively, especially early on. However, against the most dynamic offense they’ve seen this season, the Eagles did just that in the early going of their 45-31 loss to Clemson on Saturday at Alumni Stadium.

The Eagles led 21-17 late in the first half before Clemson turned on the jets as quarterback Tahj Boyd and the Tigers racked up 576 yards of offense, finishing the game on a 28-10 run. The Eagles showed they could do some damage on offense, but they couldn’t keep up with this type of performance from the Tigers, something Eagles coach Frank Spaziani knew well going into the game.

“Those Clemson payers are very good players and they’ve done it to a lot of people,” Spaziani said. “I don’t think we were too complicated. If anything, we tried to make sure we were fundamentally sound and not be too vanilla but also got our guys lined up and let recognition go.”

Junior quarterback Chase Rettig finished the day 25-of-43 for 341 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. BC’s solid aerial attack produced a career-high 193 yards receiving for junior Alex Amidon (the third-highest total in school history). Where BC struggled, though, was in its attempt to establish a consistent ground attack. The Eagles finished the day with 51 rushing yards on 28 attempts, good for an average of 1.8 yards per carry.

“Any game where we’re moving the ball well is a fun game to be in, regardless of what they’re doing on the other side,” Rettig said of the high-scoring affair. “It puts a little edge on it, when it goes back and forth. It was fun, but we just have to do better, execute better.”

Clemson had a chance pull away from BC early, bursting out to a 17-7 lead with momentum after scoring on the first play of the second quarter. However, after his offense sputtered once again, BC sophomore safety Sean Sylvia picked off a deep bomb from Boyd that triggered two straight scoring drives from the Eagles. It was a huge stop for the BC defense that spent much of the game trying to contain the Tigers and give its offense a chance to respond.

“It kind of puts more on our shoulders because the offense is putting points on the board,” Sylvia said. “We have to take more ownership, start stopping some people.”

As the game wore on, the BC defense failed to produce the keys stops that sparked the Eagles’ first-half run, particularly on third down. The Tigers finished the day 10-of-16 on third downs and turned the ball over just once in the second half. The offense, meanwhile, failed to put any second-half points on the board in until the final minute of the third quarter, at which point Clemson had taken control of the game.

“We just didn’t make enough plays,” Spaziani said. “Sylvia made a nice play and that turned the momentum around. Other than that, we got a fumble one other time. We just weren’t able to make plays when we had a chance to.”

The BC defense had its hands full with Boyd, who finished the day 28-of-38 for 367 yards with three touchdowns and one pick as well as 11 carries for 42 yards. Meanwhile, running back Andre Ellington finished the game with 25 rushes for 132 yards and a score. The main challenge throughout the game, though, remained Boyd’s ability to escape the pocket and still get the ball down the field.

“The D-line does a great job, but when you have a quarterback that can move around like that, it kind of makes their job a little bit harder,” Silvia said. “You’ve got to take responsibility on the back end, kind of challenge more routes.”

The Eagles avoided getting stagnant on offense through portions of the game through the use of some well-timed trickery on offense and special teams. Bobby Swigert completed his first career pass after taking a pitch from Rettig on an end around and firing it 28 yards downfield to receiver Spiffy Evans. Rettig, meanwhile, did his best Tom Brady pooch punt impression out of the shotgun, pinning the Tigers on their own 4 after a 32-yard punt.

Read More: Boston College, Chase Rettig, Tahj Boyd,

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