Oh where to begin.
Boston College scraped by over Holy Cross in a weather delayed contest that left just about everyone in tears.
A ‘lightning’ quick first half began with Thomas Castellanos being named the starter for the game. He would actually stay in and lead a solid offensive performance going 17/23 for 204 yards and two touchdowns along with 69 yards rushing. The Eagles punched in three straight drives of 80+ yards largely on the ground. Kye Robichaux finished off the first opening drive touchdown for BC since November of 2021. Seriously. Pat Garwo left early in the game with ankle injury, but Robichaux was stellar when used finishing with 19 carries and 94 yards.
First touchdown as an Eagle for Kye Robichaux pic.twitter.com/orAHOSpRdv— Boston College Football (@BCFootball) September 9, 2023
Holy Cross however, was able to match BC by running right through the team’s defense for chunk play after chunk play. The defenses inability to generate a true pass rush or contain Crusaders quarterback Matthew Sluka would be a sign of horrid things to come. He would go on to throw and pass for 130 yards each. Ryan O’Keefe had a great run in for a touchdown to cap off BC’s next possession to make it 14-7.
don't let Ryan O'Keefe find the edge.— Boston College Football (@BCFootball) September 9, 2023
14-7 BC. pic.twitter.com/9Sp7frvhHb
On their third drive, the Eagles offense elected to try the throw game out for a spin. Castellanos was shaky passing to start but dropped in a nice pass down the sideline to Jaden Williams and followed that up with a touch pass to tight end George Takacs on a bootleg to make it a two score game with just over 1 minute to go. That’s when things really took a turn for the worse...
Having largely played a clean game up until that point, Jeff Hafley’s team showed mental mistake after mental mistake [again] ending with 10 penalties for 109 yards. In the waning moments of the half, Luca Lombardo kicked the ball off out of bounds and the special teams tacked on an unnecessary roughness penalty in the kickoff process. Giving Sluka the ball at midfield. Two passes and one Sluka scramble, and it was back to a one possession game. Fortunately, the BC offense chose bravery despite little time left. Castellanos helped orchestrate a quick drive to allow Liam Connor to kick in the field goal to end the half 24-14. Only four possessions for the Eagles that first half, but they came away with points on all of them and produced nearly 300 yards of offense during those long drives.
Holy Cross started with the ball in the second half and in a mere two minutes were in the end zone again. Running back Jordan Fuller busted out a 45 yard run for Sluka to punch it in. A quick Eagles punt thereafter put the team on its heels. BC maintained the lead largely in part Holy Cross had some uncharacteristic procedural penalties of their own.
BC saw those flags and would not be undone. On 2nd down, Castellanos scrambled right with a clear first down opportunity, but instead taunted the nearest Holy Cross defender and ran out of bounds short. Instead of a first down, the Eagles were forced to punt and give Holy Cross another opportunity to take the lead, but the defense forced a three and out.
Now nearing the end of the third quarter, the offense tightened things up. Robichaux toted the rock a few more times, and Lewis Bond made a huge play carrying breaking tackles to set up Castellanos’ next touchdown pass to tight end Jeremiah Franklin.
Shittah Sillah then tallied BC’s first sack of the season on the ensuing drive, forcing a 3rd and 21 for the Crusaders. Vinny DePalma then got home on Sluka, but a hands to the face penalty on Neto Okpala negated it all. Bob Chesney’s team would cruise to another touchdown run by Fuller who finished over the century mark.
With 5:28 left to play, the Eagles needed to put the game away. The Crusaders defense stifled BC immediately, but a fourth down conversion kept the drive alive. Castellanos brought the team just over midfield, but were soon forced to punt with just under 2 minutes to play. Naturally, BC picked up another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the punt to give Holy Cross more breathing room to start what would be their final drive.
After the hour plus long ServPro Bowl-esque lightning delay that wiped away most of the Eagle faithful in the crowd, Sluka started things off again from the HC 25. On the very first play, he ran for 35 yards only to be stopped by just barely stepping out of bounds. It was the most fortunate thing Hafley could have asked for. A few plays later, John Pupel* knocked the ball loose from Sluka and the Eagles recovered.
The scoreboard says one thing, but BC could not have been luckier. From the undisciplined nature of this team (on both sides of the ball) and the largely inept defensive performance, there is no positive to takeaway here. The question now quite frankly is when change will be made because no one can take this anymore.