On Saturday night, the Syracuse Orange traveled over the Chestnut Hill to face the Boston College Eagles in both teams’ final match-up of the 2022 regular season. Despite some ugly offense and lots of sacks, Syracuse came from behind and won it in the 4th quarter by a score of 32-23.
The game started off with a bang after BC LB Bryce Steele had a strip sack of Orange QB Garrett Shrader behind his own 20 on the opening drive. The Eagles couldn’t fully capitalize, though, and settled for a FG to make it 3-0 early. The Boston College defense came up huge again in short order, blocking Syracuse’s punt on the very next drive. BC did manage to capitalize on that, throwing a TD to senior Zay Flowers and going up 10-0. That TD catch also made Zay Flowers the all-time Boston College record holder for TD receptions in a single season at 11.
Syracuse finally put together a bit of a drive themselves, but Boston College’s special teams came up big again when they blocked an Orange FG try. A missed FG try for BC soon after kept the score at 10-0 for most of the first half, until a Syracuse kick made it 10-3 before the half closed out.
The Syracuse offense was able to put together some long and successful drives in this game, but struggled to finish them off after reaching the redzone. This happened again towards the end of the 3rd quarter, as a drive starting at the Syracuse 5 yardline went about 90 yards downfield before being stuffed near the goal line and resulting in a FG instead to make it just 10-6. Taking advantage, Boston College continued with their run-heavy gameplan and eventually were able to score another TD, this time from Pat Garwo, to extend their lead to 17-6. A roughing the passer penalty on BC during the following drive helped Syracuse stay alive and drive for their first TD, which made it a 17-12 score after a failed 2pt-conversion.
After controlling the tempo for most of the night, the Boston College offense sputtered to close out the game and Syracuse took advantage. A deep Garrett Shrader pass down the sideline for 58 yards to Damien Alford put the Orange up 18-17 on their next drive. Emmett Morehead once again disappointed Eagles fans everywhere when he fled the pocket and allowed the ball to get swatted out of his hands by a pursuing Syracuse defender. The Orange recovered and scored, going up 8 points and requiring BC to manufacture a miracle drive to win the game with 2:29 remaining. They didn’t, ending the game with another TD (and a Zay Flowers garbage time TD) for an eventual 32-23 Syracuse win.
With the TD catch, Zay Flowers tied the all-time BC record for TD receptions at 29.
The Boston College pass rush showed up in a big way. Syracuse’s OL has been a struggling unit in recent weeks and the Eagles took full advantage. Several sacks and hurries prevented Orange QB Garrett Shrader from extending plays or getting the ball downfield consistently. Though they’ve had their own on-and-off issues, this 2022 BC defense has been an impressive unit at times.
Turnovers continue to be a problem for Emmett Morehead. If he is going to be BC’s starting QB next season, it’s something that will need to be cleaned up drastically. He continues to lose fumbles on sacks and throw directly into the hands of defenders. He has zero awareness of incoming rushers and allows the ball to be swatted out of his hands easily on chase-down sacks. For now, we’ll chalk it up to rookie mistakes.
Boston College looked motivated! Maybe it was for senior night, maybe it was for a beatable opponent, maybe it was for Jeff Hafley’s job security. Whatever it was, they came out of the gate playing hard, something that could not be said last week against Notre Dame or at various other points in the season. Hafley is very much a “players coach” that has sometimes actually struggled to break through to his players, so getting them pumped for a generally meaningless game like this is a good sign. Hopefully, a fresh start in 2023 will help with that more so.
It was a generally well-coached game by Jeff Hafley through 3 quarters. He had a specific gameplan in mind on both sides of the ball to stifle the Orange offense and run down their defense. The offense focused a lot on running Pat Garwo through the weak Orange DL and controlling the clock. The Eagles defense, meanwhile, got after the QB often and didn’t allow plays to extend beyond a few seconds. This isn’t something you see every week from BC, but they stuck to their plan and found an effective way to stay competitive. The offense was limited, as usual, largely as a result of the run-first offense that Syracuse struggles to defend, their weak OL, and Emmett Morehead’s poor play. That style of play was great while they had the lead, but was underwhelming when playing from behind at the end of the contest. The defense was gassed by the end of the game, too, and it hurt the Eagles in a big way.
As we close the book on the 2022 season, you have to acknowledge the tremendous sense of disappointment that this team made fans feel. In a historically weak ACC, with a favorable schedule, and with a 3rd-year head coach, Boston College somehow went backwards as a program. I highlighted in the preseason that it was all set to come together for BC this year, but instead it fell apart in the usual way. We’ll have plenty of these struggles to unpack in a long, bowl-less offseason.
Nevertheless, we move forward. Be sure to keep coming back to BC Interruption as we talk about what went wrong this season, what we can expect next year, and provide plenty of coverage for other Boston College sports. I’m signing off for the 2022 season and, as always, roll Eags.