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Game Recap: Boston College 35, Virginia Tech 28

The Eagles survive an ugly second half to win the opener

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Boston College Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Playing as home underdogs against a conference foe, Boston College came out of the gates with purpose. But after tallying 356 yards of total offense and building a 28-14 lead, the Eagles offense looked completely flat in the final two quarters. Still, the inexperienced defense, which seemed to be on the field the majority of the second half, came up with some big plays, salvaging a 35-28 win.

Freshman Zay Flowers made a splash in his collegiate debut. On the second drive of the game, he followed up a 16 yard first down carry with a 33 yard touchdown catch, hauling in a perfectly thrown ball from Anthony Brown. In his first quarter as an Eagle, Flowers racked up 107 total yards. He finished the day with 3 carries for 25 yards, and 2 catches for 91 yards.

Some old nagging problems hurt BC early. Two drives stalled out in the red zone, including a missed Aaron Boumerhi field goal on his first attempt as an Eagle. VT’s senior QB Ryan Willis took advantage of broken coverage in the secondary, hitting Hezekiah Grimsley for a 55 yard touchdown that tied things up at 7.

Willis struck again in the second quarter, marching the Hokies into BC territory, before connecting with Tayvion Robinson for a 20 yard touchdown pass that put VT ahead 14-7. The inexperienced Eagles secondary was a concern entering 2019, and they definitely looked vulnerable at times. Willis finished the game 29/47 for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns, but 3 interceptions and a fumble mitigated his efforts.

After a quiet start to the game, BC’s main man asserted himself midway through the 2nd quarter. AJ Dillon evaded a tackle in the backfield, and cruised in from 17 yards out to tie things up at 14. Dillon would remain somewhat ineffective by his standards, often swarmed in the backfield, but some tough running in the 4th quarter sealed up the game. All told, Dillon carried 23 times for 81 yards and a touchdown.

BC seemed to be outplaying Virginia Tech from the start, but it wasn’t until a strip sack by Tate Haynes in the 2nd quarter that the Eagles took control of the game in earnest. On the second play after the turnover, Brown hit Kobay White from 17 yards out to take a 21-14 lead.

Shortly after, BC took advantage of another Hokie mistake. Following a muffed punt by Grimsley, Brown faked a hand off, and scampered in untouched from 28 yards out, staking the Eagles to a 28-14 lead. BC won the turnover battle 5-1.

The third quarter was played primarily on the BC half of the field. The Eagles significantly downshifted the play calling and went into a stall, recording zero yards of offense. An acrobatic Brandon Sebastian interception at the goal line averted some of the damage. But the Hokies finally took advantage of their field position when Willis hit James Mitchell for his 3rd touchdown pass of the game.

Defensive lineman Tanner Karafa came up with another big play, intercepting a pass at the line. But soon after, on 1st down at the Virginia Tech 30, an ill-advised bit of trickery resulted in an interception thrown by receiver Kobay White. It wasn’t exactly the type of aggressive play-calling BC needed, and the beleaguered defensive trotted back on the field.

Ever battling, the Boston College D forced a three and out, and the offense finally cashed in. After eight consecutive rushes, David Bailey plunged in from the one to get the Eagles their only points of the second half. Virginia Tech continued to stick around late. Willis tossed his 4th touchdown of the game in the waning minutes to cut BC’s lead to 35-28, but the Eagles scooped up VT’s onside kick attempt, and AJ Dillon iced the win with an 11 yard run on 3rd and 9.

So while the second half was a bit of a letdown for the offense, it was encouraging to see the defense rise to the challenge. Zay Flowers was a revelation at receiver, and Anthony Brown looked tremendous for two quarters, before the reigns were taken away. After throwing 20 times for 258 yards and 2 TDs in the first half, he threw only 7 times for 17 yards in the second.