On Friday night, Boston College Football defeated Syracuse 17-10 in a defensive slugfest.
The major storyline heading into the matchup was the unexpected absence of Syracuse QB1 Garret Shrader, who was ruled out during pregame warmups with an undisclosed injury. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson got the start for the Orange, but it was a definite blow to an already-struggling Orange offense. The passing game, in particular, took a hit. Syracuse essentially abandoned throwing the ball.
The Eagles received the opening kickoff, but failed to put any points on the board. A promising start to the drive with two quick completions to Jaden Williams ended poorly for Castellanos, who threw back-to-back ducks that should have been picked off. Nevertheless, BC was certainly trying to attack underneath the Orange’s 3-3-5 base defense and keep the chains moving with quick, short throws and the run game. Syracuse, meanwhile, worked with tempo and a lot of designed QB runs to move the ball – but their first drive ended with Del Rio-Wilson throwing a bad pick to CJ Clinkscales, who picked up his first career interception. Boston College took over on the short field and got into the red zone, but after a broken-up pass intended for Bond on 3rd and goal, the Eagles settled for a field goal. That was all the offense BC would muster in the first quarter, as the Eagles surprisingly moved away from their dominant run game and tried to jump-start the pass game. Syracuse would score the first touchdown of the game on a 27-yard scamper up the middle, to cap off a 4-play, 65-yard drive that saw two big chunk gains on the ground.
On the first drive of the second quarter, BC’s offense stuck to its quick-strike gameplan, with multiple screen passes and heavy-personnel run game. Then the turnover bug struck again. Castellanos, who has struggled a lot in recent weeks with ball control, fumbled a handoff to Robichaux and Syracuse recovered. With the Orange pass game suffering from a combination of bad QB play and WR drops, however, BC’s defense was able to get a crucial stop, and followed that stop up with an Elijah Jones pick in the endzone on Syracuse’s next possession. This finally gave the offense a much-needed spark, and they responded with a grinding 18-play, 80 yard TD drive. The Eagles converted twice on 4th and short, consistently winning short yardage situations even with Syracuse’s D-line frequently getting into the backfield. Castellanos finished off the drive with a quick completion to (linebacker?) Owen McGowan to give the Eagles a 10-7 lead. The Eagles would take the 3-point lead into the half, despite a quick Syracuse drive that nearly got into field goal range, courtesy of a George Rooks roughing the passer penalty. Nevertheless, a nice tackle from John Pupel forced a 57-yard field goal, which the Orange promptly missed.
The Eagle defense continued its strong play with a stop to start the second half, with Edwin Kolenge collecting BC’s first sack of the contest. Offense for both teams was in short supply for most of the quarter, with BC’s offense having several slow-moving drives stopped – including a 4th and 1 stop for the Orange defense on their own 30-yard line. Heading into the 4th quarter, BC’s edge was still only 10-7, but with Syracuse threatening to score on the Eagles’ 30-yard line after LeQuint Allen broke through for a 56-yard rushing gain. As the 4th quarter started, Syracuse converted a FG of their own to tie the game at 10. Boston College’s responding drive was victim to another turnover – Robichaux took a massive, helmet-to-helmet hit that somehow was not ruled targeting, and Syracuse recovered the ensuing fumble.
It did not matter. Elijah Jones did not care. He collected his second pick of the game, absolutely ripping the ball away from the receiver and sparking up the Eagles. The momentum continued when, despite being deep in their own half, Sam Candotti converted the fake punt on fourth and medium to keep BC’s drive alive with nine minutes to play. However, as had happened all game long, Syracuse was able to recover and force a punt, keeping the game tied with 7 minutes to play. The Eagles’ offense just looked disjointed, committing multiple turnovers and with TC committing several throws that easily could have resulted in even more turnovers. But with the clock ticking down, BC finally found a rhythm for just the second drive all game. The run game answered when called upon, BC stayed ahead of the chains, and Tommy Touchdowns rushed in the ball for an Eagles touchdown. With less than 3 minutes on the clock, BC took a 17-10 lead.
Cole Batson delivered the dagger, with the Eagles getting their 4th interception of the game to seal the game. Despite the rough offense, despite the slow start, the Eagles got it done. The Path is still alive.