On Saturday afternoon, the Boston College Eagles hosted the Florida State Seminoles at Alumni Stadium for the 2023 Red Bandana game. BC holds this annual game to honor 9/11 hero and BC alum Welles Crowther, who sacrificed himself to save lives during the terrorist attack in New York City in 2001. He was known throughout his life for wearing a red bandana, including on September 11th when he used it to cover his face from the smoke inside of the World Trade Center, so the Boston College team and staff use this symbol in his honor. You can learn more about his story by watching the full documentary on YouTube here.
It was an interesting game, with Boston College taking an early lead and maintaining it for most of the first half. But Florida State’s offense was too much for BC, as they starting running up the score in the second and third quarters. But BC recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the 4th quarter and scored again to make it a one possession game, but FSU ended up holding on and winning the game 31-29.
Boston College started off the game on the right foot, driving all the way down the field to score a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Castellanos showed off some of his playmaking ability, scrambling out of the pocket and finding receivers Joseph Griffin Jr. and Lewis Bond for big gains, while RB Kye Robichaux was effective on the ground. FSU came out somewhat effective on offense as well, but the Eagles were stuffing FSU’s run game and eventually forced them to settle for a field goal making it 7-3 BC with 6 minutes left in the first quarter.
BC started moving the ball again on their second drive, too. They got stuck in a 4th & 1 situation in their own territory but elected to go for it, with Kye Robichaux barreling up the middle to convert. They were rewarded for the gutsy call once Castellanos ran it himself deep into FSU territory and then got the ball into the redzone, with Robichaux eventiually converting another short yardage 4th down. But BC couldn’t make anything happen at the goal line, leaving them with just 3 points to extend their lead to 10-3. Then Florida State continued the methodical offense of the day, marching down the field and scoring relatively easily on their next drive, tying the game at 10-10.
Boston College immediately found themselves in a hole on their next drive, getting backed up within their own 10 yard line after a couple of penalties. But Castellanos was able to pull off a 45 yard run to midfield before BC’s offense eventually fizzled out and was forced to punt. 3 false start penalties on a single drive really hampered their ability to stay in rhythm and get the ball into scoring position. Florida State meanwhile took advantage of facemask and pass interference penalties on the other side of the ball to score a touchdown and finally take the lead, 17-10 with under 2 minutes remaining in the first half.
The teams then exchanged a couple of short drives that went nowhere to end the half, though FSU QB Jordan Travis did get hurt on a scramble. Boston College finished the first half with a whopping 11 penalties. FSU had none, and led the game 17-10.
The Seminoles didn’t wait to get going again in the second half. They immediately drove down in just a few plays to score a touchdown and take a 24-10 lead, with Jordan Travis back out on the field after his injury. After Castellanos was picked off on the first play of BC’s next drive, FSU made quick work of the Eagles and scored another touchdown in just 2 plays, extending their lead to 31-10 after just about 4 minutes of the second half.
Most of the remainder of the third quarter went by without much action. But thanks to a huge lapse in pass coverage, Dino Tomlin was able to bring BC into FSU territory on a huge gain in their next drive, eventually leading to a punch-in by Kye Robichaux. A missed PAT, though, meant BC would be down 31-16. But Florida State proceeded to fumble the ensuing kickoff, allowing Boston College to recover and start in excellent field position.
Despite this, BC failed to convert on 4th down near the goal line and handed the ball back to FSU. But the Seminoles fumbled the ball in their own territory, allowing Khari Johnson to pick it up and walk it in for a Boston College touchdown. With a failed 2pt-conversion afterwards, FSU’s lead was down to just 9 points with about 11 minutes remaining. In the face of a burgeoning comeback, FSU drove down the field before being stopped in their tracks by an offensive pass interference penalty, forcing them to punt.
BC was backed down to their own 5 yard line with 7:30 left in the contest, needing to score to make it a one possession game. With the offensive line giving Castellanos a ton of time, he found Lewis Bond wide open down the field and brought the Eagles into FSU territory. They made their way down to the 7 yard line, where Castellanos took it himself on 4th down to cut FSU’s lead to 31-29. If it weren’t for the missed PAT, this game would’ve been tied at this point.
With possession and holding just a two point lead, Florida State wasn’t able to get going on offense and needed to punt away with just under 5 minutes left on the clock. And despite a long pass to O’Keefe down the sideline, BC’s offensive line collapsed against the pass rush and the Eagles were forced to punt away with just 2:23 remaining and two timeouts left.
Florida State ended up getting stuffed on three straight run plays, but a facemask penalty on the defense gave them an automatic first down, allowing them to run down the clock and sneak out with a 31-29 victory.
Penalties. Gee whiz. Boston College had a ridiculous 19 penalties in this game, a new school record. Despite keeping the game competitive, the Eagles could not get out of their own way with the sloppy play. The false start penalties on offense especially killed momentum at important moments while BC was trying to keep pace with FSU. It’s been a problem all season and it did not get better this week.
Whoa, this is the best the BC offense has looked! The gameplan pretty much revolved around Castellanos’s rushing ability and it worked well for large stretches. He was able to rip off a couple of long runs and scramble to find open rceeivers down field. FSU wasn’t really sure about committing to stopping the run because Castellanos could make them pay in the passing game, too. Plus they were really able to control time of possession and limited FSU’s opportunities on offense as a result. It was a really promising sign that this offense will get better as the weeks go on.
The defense was overmatched. But we expected that. Jordan Travis and the Florida State Seminoles are one of the most intimidating offenses in the country. It was a tall order asking BC to slow them down, and the Eagles really struggled to stop them, especially in pass coverage. They did make a couple of key stops near the end of the game, but the game-ending facemask penalty was a backbreaker.
Kye Robichaux is a baller. He was BC’s primary running back today and he looked really good out there. He broke several tackles and especially made an impact in yards after contact. Despite missing Patrick Garwo to injury, this team is in good hands with its backfield.
Thomas Castellanos struggles on play-action. I’m not sure if I’m the only one noticing this, but Castellanos is really struggling on hand-offs during play-action. Either him or the running backs are rarely in position, causing Castellanos to stick the ball out in the air with nobody there to fake the handoff. It was a recurring issue all day and, while not hugely important, it’s illustrative of the communication issues BC has been having on offense this year.