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Throwback Thursday: Boston College Football In Foxboro

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A look back at the history of Boston College football games played in Foxboro.

Eagles win over Penn State one of many big games played in Foxboro
Eagles win over Penn State one of many big games played in Foxboro
CoachJF Archives

Saturday's game at Gillette Stadium vs UMass marks BC's 13th appearance in Foxboro since 1971.  The Eagles have played games in both the old Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium as well as the new Gillette facility, serving as the home team 11 times and the visiting team three times, once vs Holy Cross and now twice vs UMass.

The Eagles hold a record of 7-5 overall in Foxboro, 6-5 in the old concrete slab and 1-0 at Patriot Place.  Of the 13 games, BC has been nationally ranked in 5 of those and played nationally ranked teams in another 4.  The Eagles have never played a game as a nationally ranked team vs another nationally ranked team in Foxboro.

Let's take a quick look back at those contests.

November 21, 1971 - BC 21 Holy Cross 7 - Schaefer Stadium

Originally scheduled for Holy Cross' Fitton Field, the game was moved to the newly built Schaefer Stadium after a snowstorm dropped two feet of the white powder on the Crusaders' Worcester campus.

Holy Cross, coming off a winless 1970 season, took the lead 7-0, before BC responded with 14 second quarter points on a 10 yard run by Bill Thomas and 40 yard Ray Rippman to Ed Rideout TD pass.

Rippman would salt it away in the fourth quarter with a 46 yard pass to Mel Briggs.

The Eagles would finish the season 9-2, but with what was viewed as a very weak schedule and few bowl games, were left home for the holidays.

September 15, 1975 - #9 Notre Dame 17 BC 3 - Schaefer Stadium

It was a night that Bill Flynn dreamed about for years.  Notre Dame vs Boston College, for the first time ever, Monday Night football on ABC national television in front of a packed house (the largest crowd ever to attend a game in Foxboro).

The Eagles were still trying to find their way onto the national stage, taking their first bite of the apple a year earlier in a decisive loss at home to Texas.  They were convinced though that the experience would benefit them in this game and that a strong offensive line, running game and steady play at quarterback could allow them to hang tough against first year Irish coach Dan Devine and a relatively inexperienced team.

Both Divine and BC's Joe Yukica played the game extremely close to the vest.  Yukica would not allow QB Mike Kruczek (who would set an NCAA record for completion percentage in a season) to air it out, turning it into a battle in the trenches.

A Fred Steinfort field goal kept the Eagles in a 3-3 tie at the half, but the Irish would score on a Wayne Bullock 10 yard carry and ice it in the fourth quarter courtesy of Al Hunter.

The Eagles could muster only 207 yards total offense, leaving many to ponder Yukica's conservative play calling with BC only a 6 point underdog heading into the game.

October 29, 1983 - #19 BC 27 Penn State 17 - Sullivan Stadium

They say you always remember your first.  Your first kiss, your first job, your first car..in this case, your first win over a bitter Eastern rival.

Eleven times the Eagles had tried to knock the king off the mountain and eleven times Joe Paterno and Penn State had said no such luck.  Just the year before, the Lions had visited Chestnut Hill amidst Flutie-mania and although Doug was able to put up a record passing performance against PSU, the Eagles were thrashed, 52-17.

BC wasted no time in stating that on this date, things would finally be different, jumping on the Nittany Lions for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter on the way to a 27-17 win.  Flutie to Gerard Phelan from 9 yards out on the first offensive possession of the day put the Eagles up 7-0.

The lead would grow to 21-0 with two quick scores early in the 2nd quarter. A Flutie pass intended for Brian Brennan ricocheted to Troy Stradford behind the Lion secondary for a 67 yard TD and on the next PSU drive, the Eagle D forced a punt which was blocked, setting up a Steve Strachan run for six more.

The Lions would eventually cut the lead to 24-17 before Flutie (24-43 380 yards) hit Phelan on a spectacular diving catch at Paterno's feet, ultimately leading to Kevin Snow's game clinching field goal.

November 19, 1983 - #18 BC 47 Holy Cross 7 - Sullivan Stadium

Under Rick Carter, the Holy Cross football fortunes, so down in the dumps through the 1970s had altered.  The Crusaders were ranked #1 in the country in the Division 1AA poll when they took on Boston College at Sullivan in 1983, but like so many other games in the decade of the 80s, this one turned into an Eagle rout.

Leading just 9-0 at the half, the Eagles used two touchdowns from Troy Stradford and Bob Biestek to break the game open. Stradford would run for 165 yards on the day as the Eagles moved to 8-2 on the season and set up an encounter the next week, also in Foxboro against Alabama.

November 25, 1983 - #15 BC 20 Alabama 13 - Sullivan Stadium

It was a weather day no one will ever forget.  The Friday after Thanksgiving and a snow, rain, ice mess that wound up taking out the power in Sullivan Stadium, even cutting out the CBS TV feed to the nation, but none of that mattered to BC who ended their 1983 season with a come from behind 20-13 win over the Crimson Tide.

Both teams would struggle in the conditions, the game tied at 6-6 at the half, when the lights went out.  The Tide were the first to capitalize, blocking a Steve Peach punt and returning it 52 yards for a go ahead touchdown.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Eagles would benefit from a fumbled punt by Bama's Kerry Goode and drive the ball with TB Ken Bell scampering 20 yards, Flutie 8 more, before a Flutie to Bob Biestek 5 yard pass and PAT would tie the game at 13 with 6:29 left.

The Eagle D (five turnovers forced on the day) stayed tough and after Steve Lubischer recovered a fumble at the Tide 33, Flutie to Brennan brought the ball to the Tide 16 before first Strachan and then Biestek, this time from 3 yards out gave BC its first lead of the game at 20-13.

Tide QB Walter Lewis would nearly pull off a Houdini act in the final minute getting Alabama to Eagle 12 before DE Dave Thomas ended the threat and sent the Eagles off to the Liberty Bowl at 9-2 and Lambert Trophy Champions.

September 22, 1984 - #10 BC 52 North Carolina 20 - Sullivan Stadium

Just three short years earlier, BC had been buried by North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Heels had dropped 56 on BC in routing the Eagles 56-14.  It had long stuck in the craw of Coach Jack Bicknell and this night in Foxboro was Bicknell's night for revenge.

Doug Flutie threw for 354 yards and an Eagle record 6 TD's leading BC to an overwhelming 52-20 win in front of an appreciative crowd of 44,672.

The Eagles would lead this one 28-0 at the half, rolling up a 334-109 total yard advantage, in a game that UNC Head Coach Dick Crum said afterwards, could have been 65-0.

Flutie to Troy Stradford from 8 yards out, followed by an 80 yard, 12 play drive with Flutie hitting Kelvin Martin from 6 yards out made it 14-0.

More Flutie-isms came later in the half, courtesy of a jump pass to Stradford from 14 yards out and a shovel pass to TE Scott Gieselman from 4 yards and the Eagles were in charge.

The onslaught would continue in the second half as Tar Heel blitzers were picked up by Flutie's offensive line nicknamed "The Secret Service".  TD passed to freshman running back Steve Williams and a second to Gieselman before fullback Jim Browne capped the scoring on a two yard run.

It was a sign of things to come in the most special season in Eagle history.

November 17, 1984 - #13 BC 24 Syracuse 16 - Sullivan Stadium

It was the game that sealed the first New Year's Day bowl bid in 42 years.  Although some may believe the famous "Hail Flutie" game in Miami the next week was that moment, or even the season closing win at Holy Cross the week after that did it, BC's 24-16 win over the Orangemen at Sullivan on a sunny but cold afternoon, was what sealed the deal.

The Eagles were expected to win and went to the lead right away with Flutie hitting TE Peter Casparriello for a 31 yard gain from the SU 39 to the 8.  A few plays later it was a staple of the 1984 season, Steve Strachan over the top for a 7-0 lead.

Syracuse would come back to take the lead 10-7 at the half as the Eagle offense struggled most of the day.

Freshman linebacker Bill Romanowski would intercept a Mike Kmetz pass to thwart an SU drive and BC would make them pay going 72 yards with the vast majority of them (59) on the ground.  Troy Stradford would do the honors from five yards out on a sweep and BC was back in front 14-10.

The lead would grow to 17-10, before Kelvin Martin sent the sellout crowd of 60,890 (yes, BC sold out Sullivan Stadium) into delirium and Jim "Hoss" Brock to offer Bill Flynn the trip to the Cotton Bowl, with a 78 yard punt return with 6:06 left in the game to make it 24-10.

September 14, 1985 - #17 Maryland 31 BC 13 - Sullivan Stadium

Maryland rolled into Sullivan Stadium nationally ranked and showed why as the Terps piled up 205 yards on the ground, controlling the clock and the game in beating the Eagles, 31-13.

UM led just 10-7 at the half, as BC drove 76 yards in 13 plays and cashed in finally on a Shawn Halloran to Kelvin Martin 13 yard TD pass. The Terps however would start the second half on a five minute drive, the last nine plays of which were runs, ending with an Alvin Blount carry to go up 17-7.  BC bounced right back on the ensuing possession with a 79 yard drive, culminated with another Halloran to Martin TD pass.  The Eagles though missed the PAT (where have we seen missed kicks before?) and trailed 17-13.

The kicking game bit the Eagles in the backside again, when Coach Jack Bicknell called for a fake FG only to have the kicker not be on the field, forcing BC to call timeout. Rather than fake the kick after the timeout, Bicknell decided to kick and Ken Kanzler hooked the kick. Maryland turned that into a TD and a 24-13 lead and on the next play following the kickoff, forced a Halloran fumble, recovered at the Eagle 1, which provided the final 31-13 margin.

It was the beginning of a tough stretch in Foxboro which would continue in two weeks time.

September 28, 1985 - Miami 45 BC 10 - Sullivan Stadium

Hurricane Gloria had struck Boston on September 27, on September 28 another Hurricane of sorts hit.

This was miles from the Miracle in Miami game just 10 months earlier.  Two interceptions of Shawn Halloran, one returned 100 yards for a TD staked the Canes to a 17-3 lead at the half and the BC offense went in fits and starts the whole afternoon, driving inside the Miami 25 on six different occasions notching only 10 points.

That interception turned out to be a crushing mental blow, with the Eagles poised to tie the game at 10 heading to the half, now finding themselves down 14.

Halloran would be harassed constantly throughout the game, sacked six times by Jimmy Johnson's defense, while Cane QB Vinny Testaverde and RB Alonzo Highsmith, had their way with the frustrated Eagle D.

September 20, 1986 - #5 Penn State 26 BC 14 - Sullivan Stadium

Both teams play poorly, but when you are the #5 team in the country, you have a bit more margin for error and such was the case on this night.  Turnovers and special teams gaffes contributed to BC finding itself down 12-0 at the half, however the Eagles came out firing and got right back into the game on a Shawn Halloran to Darren Flutie 45 yard TD pass to cut the margin the 12-7.

Following an exchange of punts, Penn State scored to up the lead to 19-7 and when Troy Stradford's halfback pass was intercepted, the third Eagle turnover to go with a botched punt that lead to a safety, school was out.

September 26, 1987 - #15 Penn State 27 BC 17 - Sullivan Stadium

Eagles fall behind 17-0 just three minutes into the second quarter, then rally to tie the game at 17 early in the third quarter before 47,017.  The key play in the game becomes a roughing the punter call on nose guard Dave Nugent with 14:06 remaining in the game, which led to the go ahead field goal.

Blair Thomas carried 30 times for 164 yards for the Lions while Mike Power was 15-26 for 257 yards including one to WR Tom Waddle for a spectacular 39 yard gain for BC.

August 30, 2014 - BC 30 Massachusetts 7 - Gillette Stadium

The Eagles return to Foxboro after a 26 year absence to open the season against new UMass coach Mark Whipple in Gillette.  The Eagles start off slowly and have just a 6-0 lead at the half, but unleash Florida transfer Tyler Murphy in the second half.  Murphy struggles to throw, but runs for 118 yards on 13 carries as BC rolls up 511 yards total offense and nearly 43 minutes of possession while holding UMass to just 202 yards.  The attendance of 30,479 marks the largest home crowd in UMass history although at least 50% of those are wearing maroon and gold.