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Boston College Squanders Opportunities in Loss to Syracuse

Syracuse gave BC plenty of chances to win a game it had no business being in.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

On homecoming in Chestnut Hill, it wasn't just the weather that was sloppy, as Boston College and Syracuse combined for 24 penalties and five turnovers in a rain-soaked 28-20 Orange victory.

While it wasn't the blowout defeat that Boston College (3-4, 0-4 ACC) had suffered its last two times out in ACC play, this latest conference loss (now the 12th in a row for the Eagles) stings mightily in its own right. Simply put, the game was there for the taking, largely thanks to an Orange team that seemed intent on giving it to the Eagles.

Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC) drove 50 yards on its opening drive, and the Orange no-huddle passing attack was already finding success against BC's defense. But, sophomore quarterback Eric Dungey threw into traffic, and was intercepted by BC's William Harris on the drive's sixth play. Harris would return the ball 60 yards, and get tackled out of bounds for an extra 15 yards. BC's first drive started at the Orange 15-yard line but, after a pair of runs and a penalty, that's exactly where the Eagles ended up kicking a field goal from.

Up 3-0 yes, but a grand opportunity squandered.

Syracuse would respond with a 10-play. 75-yard scoring drive on its next possession, but then fumbled when it again reached the BC red zone. Matt Milano recovered for the Eagles, but BC would punt on its next two possessions.

The Orange, meanwhile, continued to run their no-huddle offense with great efficiency, wearing out the BC defense, and scoring again on a 10-yard pass from Dungey to Ervin Phillips. Luckily for BC, the seas parted on the following kickoff for Myles Willis, and he took it 89 yards to the house to keep the Eagles alive.

On the following Cuse drive, the still tired BC defense rose up when Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray combined for a sack on third down, and the Eagles were gifted a missed Orange field goal for their trouble.

But, just four plays later, quarterback Patrick Towles would fumble, and we'd go to the half with Syracuse leading 14-10. Boston College completed just two passes the entire first half, and lost the time of possession battle by five minutes, but remained within striking distance.

That theme would continue in the third, where Boston College would drive deep into Syracuse territory, but a bobbled ball by receiver Michael Walker was intercepted by Orange linebacker Parris Bennett. The Orange would then drive 86 yards in nine plays to take a seemingly commanding 21-10 lead.

But, once again, Syracuse would allow Boston College to sneak back in, as it let Towles run 75 yards untouched for a score to end the third quarter.

To that point, Syracuse had out-gained Boston College 416 to 244, and had thrown for over 340 yards, yet BC was down only four heading into the final frame.

Towles would then complete two nice passes, and BC would benefit from a foolish hands to the face penalty by Syracuse, setting them up with first down at the Orange 25. But BC couldn't cash it in. After a short Towles run on second down, backup quarterback Darius Wade entered the game. The sophomore threw his first pass out of the end zone to set up a 39-yard Mike Knoll field goal, making it 21-20 Syracuse.

Towles would not return. Boston College head coach Steve Addazio would later explain that Towles tweaked his hamstring on the long touchdown run, and re-aggravated it on that drive. 

Syracuse would strike quickly on its next drive, as Dungey hit Amba Etta-Tawo for a 68-yard score. It was the play of the day for the Orange, as Etta-Tawo made a spectacular grab in coverage, then stayed on his feet and took it the rest of the way for the score.

BC went nowhere on its next drive, but was given a gift when the Orange got the ball back. Just trying to run the clock out with three minutes to play, Dungey fumbled after taking a hit from Ray while scrambling. Kevin Kavalec recovered, and BC had one final shot at the Syracuse 43.

Wade completed a nice ball to Charlie Callinan for 12 yards, but was then sacked for a loss of 11 three plays later to bring up 3rd and 21. After another pass to Callinan for seven, Wade's final throw bounced off the fingertips of Michael Walker in the end zone.

Syracuse would gain a first down and kneel out the clock on its next possession.

This loss should go down as one of the more frustrating ones in recent memory, as the Eagles simply could not stop Syracuse through the air (434 Orange passing yards), but BC still had chance after chance to win, or at least tie the game. BC fans have now seen the Eagles drop 12 straight ACC contests in a variety of fashions, and their 2016 bowl hopes are on life support with a string of challenging games on the horizon.

BC will have to rebound quickly, as the Eagles head to NC State next week, before returning to Chestnut Hill to host Louisville, then hitting the road again to face Florida State.