Boston College Football opened ACC play Thursday night on the road against Wake Forest. For a BC team that is eyeing national relevance — and a national ranking — for the first time in a decade, this was a game the Eagles absolutely had to have. A loss to Wake Forest probably would have dropped BC out of the running for a national ranking for the rest of the season. A win would set the Eagles up for the possibility of a deep undefeated run and a climb up the rankings. In past years, this set up would only prove to be the perfect week for heartbreak.
But not this year. The Eagles took care of business and came away from BB&T Field with a road ACC win, and most surprisingly, the offense came away looking like superstars.
It was a crazy-hot start for BC. AJ Dillon got things moving with three straight plays to open the game, culminating in a 45 yard touchdown run to give the Eagles an early lead. After Will Harris picked off Sam Hartman on the ensuing Wake Forest drive, it looks like BC might come out of Winston-Salem with an easy win.
ICYMI, here is the 45-yard touchdown for Dillon to get BC on the board first. You have to love his size and vision as a back. pic.twitter.com/silaLuNlAh— CFB Chalk Talk (@POB_CFB) September 13, 2018
But it most certainly was not. A hurry-up Wake Forest offense kept the BC defense on the field for over 100 plays, and special teams continued to struggle. Michael Walker — one of the bright spots on the much-maligned Eagles special teams unit, muffed a Wake Forest punt inside the red zone, setting up an easy Wake Forest score to tie the game at 7-7. It was obvious that from there, things weren’t going to be easy.
The teams exchanged a few punts from there before Hamp Cheevers jumped a route for an easy interception early in the 2nd quarter. Anthony Brown promptly converted on the good field position with a 27 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Smith at the back of the end zone to put the Eagles back out front.
Anthony Brown drops back on play-action, and--with a ton of time to throw--hurls a pass to a wide-open Jeff Smith. After being initially called a incomplete pass, the play was reviewed and ruled a touchdown. BC is back up, 14-7. pic.twitter.com/nNYr3XSZTs— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 13, 2018
Special teams continued to haunt the Eagles, though. The BC defense forced a 3 and out on Wake’s next drive, but the Eagles had a 3 and out of their own and sent the punt unit on. Grant Carlson couldn’t handle the snap, and his scrambling rugby punt attempt was blocked and recovered in the end zone by the Deacs to tie the game up at 14.
A high snap gets away from Grant Carlson. After he scoops it up, his rugby-style punt is blocked by Will Drawdy and returned for a Demon Deacons touchdown. That's the third time this year that BC has had a punt blocked for a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/tFYVs1VHi8— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 13, 2018
After another 3 and out for BC, Wake Forest put together its first long touchdown drive of the nice to take their first lead and give BC fans plenty of frustration. But the BC offense — who would have ever expected this a year ago? — was there to save the day. Another set of big plays ended in a 35 yard bomb down the field to a leaping Kobay White to tie the game back up before halftime, allowing BC fans to have at least a partial sigh of relief.
On the very next play, Anthony Brown fakes the handoff and fires a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kobay White, who beat his man with a double move. We're all tied up at 21. pic.twitter.com/Oex1AFes8H— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 13, 2018
Wake’s opening drive of the second half once again went through the BC defense a little too easily, but the Deacs were held to a field goal. But down once again, Anthony Brown came out right away to retake control. This time it was a beautiful 8 play drive — certainly the most impressive of the night — that saw Brown convert on two straight 3rd and long situations before firing off a long 29 yarder to a wide open Tommy Sweeney on the play action to put BC back in the lead for good 28-24.
Anthony Brown drops back on play-action and--with a boatload of time--lofts a pass to a wide-open Tommy Sweeney. The tight end makes the catch and squeezes past the goal line for a touchdown. These are throws Brown wasn't making on a consistent-basis last year. pic.twitter.com/4TV3AZgbs1— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 13, 2018
It took a few more drives, but BC was finally able to get a two score lead on a massive 92 yard drive. This time Brown found Jeff Smith in motion down the right sideline, and Smith was able to turn on the jets to leave the defensive backs behind for a 71 yard score. John Tessitore’s extra point was kicked right into the offensive line — we’re still good for one missed PAT per game it seems — but BC had a 10 point lead.
A couple of nine-yard Dillon carries set up the play-action pass for Anthony Brown. Once again, the redshirt sophomore makes the most of the opportunity, hitting a wide-open Jeff Smith for a 71-yard score. BC leads, 34-24 with 13:29 remaining. pic.twitter.com/j7Up8xP0A7— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 14, 2018
Wake was able to respond to keep the game interesting with another long drive, but the Eagle defense once again held them to 3 points to keep the 7 point advantage. And as if on cue, Anthony Brown returned to the field for another big-time response to give BC breathing room. Brown might have saved his best for last on this one, dropping a dime out of the sky for Ben Glines who rumbled the last 10 yards into the end zone to put BC up by 14, its largest lead of the night.
After missing Jeff Smith on the deep ball, Anthony Brown goes back it again--this time out of shotgun, lofting a touch pass to Ben Glines. The redshirt junior makes the mid-air adjustment, hauls in the reception, and scores his second career touchdown. pic.twitter.com/xr4t2s8vkn— Andy Backstrom (@AndyHeights) September 14, 2018
Wake Forest got itself a late touchdown to give them a shot with the onside kick, but Kobay White came up with the easy grab to put the bow on a big BC win.
The offense was pretty much sensational across the board. Dillon put up 175 yards like it was nothing, Anthony Brown chucked five touchdowns to four different receivers while throwing zero interceptions, the receivers made great plays, no one had any drops that I can think of, and the Eagles put up over 500 yards of balanced offense.
Even EDSBS was in disbelief:
agog at a Boston College offense throwing bombs downfield with regularity— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) September 14, 2018
The defense did not have a particularly great game, but when you factor in the special teams issues that essentially handed 14 points to Wake Forest on their own, you have to consider the fact that the Eagles defense could be fairly held responsible for about 20 Wake Forest points on over 100 plays. The rush defense seemed to struggle in particular, but the Deacs deserve credit for how well the executed the delayed option handoff that seems to stymie the BC linebackers all evening. And again, they were on the field for over 100 plays.
But we don’t just get to wipe points off the board because they were special teams. They all count, and it’s been a disturbing trend for the Eagles not just this season but for the past few years. Giving up points when your D is off the field is really hard to swallow. The only hope is that they can work on some of the more glaring issues in the coming weeks.
In the end, though, it was the offense that stole the show. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler called a tremendous game and deserves a ton of credit. Everyone knew that Wake was going to be all-in on stuffing Dillon at the line, and while it was frustrating watching Dillon run into the line a few more times than we’d like, it sure kept the Deacs off balance for the big plays coming out of Anthony Brown play actions all night. Brown and the receivers were relied on to come through when those plays were dialed up, and did they ever.
It wasn’t a perfect win, but it was a big one. BC is looking at having a really good chance of having a little number next to their name next week, and with a run of winnable games up ahead, the Eagles have a real chance to climb the rankings over the next several weeks. BC has a long week now to tidy up some of the big issues before heading to Purdue to try and continue the winning streak.