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BC 23, NIU 20: The Key Play

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Where did the game turn around for the Eagles?

NCAA Football: Boston College at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, 1-0. It feels like forever since we started out with a win, but it was just two years ago that BC took a 24-3 win against Maine to start the 2015 season.

For a while, it felt like BC was going to sputter out of the gate against Northern Illinois and find themselves with a tally in the loss column against a team they really needed to beat if they were to have a winning season. But toward the end of the first half, things turned around pretty abruptly for the Eagles.

1st and Goal from the NIU 5, 0:30 remaining in the 2nd quarter
Anthony Brown pass complete to Michael Walker — TOUCHDOWN

BC 13, NIU 10

It’s already been talked about a few times, but Steve Addazio’s decision to go aggressive at the end of the 1st half — calling three straight timeouts, holding the Huskies to a three and out on 25 seconds of game clock, and going to the air on a two minute drill with freshman QB Anthony Brown — was a departure from what we’ve seen in the past and may have been the difference between winning and losing the game.

That wasn’t the only time Addazio “played to win.” The Eagles’ game-winning field goal came on a 13 play drive in the 4th quarter in which BC twice went for it on 4th down, once on their own side of the field. But the touchdown at the end of the first half was so well executed, turned the tide of the game so much, that it has to be looked at as the moment of the game.

Move than that, it probably gave the freshman QB and his coach some confidence that they can execute in the clutch.

This is a great play call and great execution by BC. There’s a whole lot of good things happening on this play. First, you have Anthony Brown rolling out to his left and the right side of the line just playing to keep the protection intact — they know they have some extra space to play with.

Next, you have two BC wide receivers, #6 Jeff Smith and #9 Kobay White, crossing in front of the goal line and staying short. Initially you’ve got the NIU defenders on their man, but the three Eagles converging in the same spot causes some chaos.

But chaos isn’t enough to give the Eagles a man to throw the ball to. Chaos combined with a speedy frosh QB who has the legs to take it into the endzone himself, however, makes all the difference.

Michael Walker is initially bumped by an NIU defender just beyond the line, but that defender is concerned with Brown. That allows Walker to slip in behind the defense -- a breakdown by NIU, no doubt, but one the Eagles probably forced — and he’s open.

Anthony Brown still has to make the play though, and he sends off a pass while on the move right into the breadbasket. Touchdown Eagles, and they leapfrog into the lead for the first time in the game. They had their share of issues as the game played out, but going into the 2nd half with the lead changed the game flow and the outlook of the second half completely.