Picking a single, solitary “most important play of the game” is usually tougher than it looks. Over the course of 60 minutes, there are so many things that happen that change the course of a game that it’s a fool’s errand to pick just one.
Instead, we’re going to count down the three biggest moments in the game that altered the trajectory of the result the most. Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments!
2:02 remaining in the 4th quarter
3rd & 9 at the Boston College 39
AJ Dillon run for 11 yds to the 50 yard line: FIRST DOWN
BC 35, VT 28
Things were looking annoyingly hairy there late in the game with BC running into the line twice in a row trying to kill the clock. BC’s unwillingness to take to the air in the second half while only up two scores is a breakdown for another day, but at this point it’s well and truly clock-killing time, and it was looking like VTech would be getting the ball back with a meaningful amount of time on the clock.
The Eagles opt for a run up the gut on third down to ensure that at a minimum, 40 more seconds would bleed off the clock — not the worst idea, given that other than one major defensive breakdown, the Hokies were clawing their way down the field for their scores rather than getting chunk plays, and with a punt they would presumably be getting the ball deep in their own territory.
But thanks to AJ Dillon and, even more importantly, redshirt freshman OL Tyler Vrabel, BC was able to get the first down and ice the game with a victory formation then and there. Vrabel in particular makes this whole play even happen, preventing VT linebacker Rayshard Ashby (#23) from plugging up the hole in the line and pushing him out of the way for Dillon. Dillon, as always, does a great job of keeping his feet and rumbling for the first down to ice the win.
8:04 remaining in the 2nd quarter
2nd & 8 at the Virginia Tech 17
AJ Dillon run for 17 yds: TOUCHDOWN
BC 14, VT 14
Anthony Brown was the offensive star of the game, looking sharp and dropping dimes all over the field to lead BC to the win, but it’s a testament to how important individual plays can be that our first two critical plays are AJ Dillon carries. Had I told you before the game, you wouldn’t have batted an eye at it, but the way the game played out, it’s almost a surprise.
It felt like the Eagles were in the lead for almost the entire game, but BC trailed by a touchdown midway through the second quarter after a couple rough defensive series. We’d all seen this movie before — BC falls behind by a score, and it looks like going down by a second possession could be a death blow to our chances at taking the win. But that didn’t happen on Saturday.
No, on Saturday, the Hokies scored on two long drives at the end of the 1st quarter and at the beginning of the 2nd, and suddenly the Boston College defense isn’t looking so hot. The BC offense needed an answer before the game spiraled out of control, and they got it. A nice, balanced, 9 play, 75 yard drive engineered by Anthony Brown and finished off by AJ Dillon brought the Eagles back even to give BC a fresh start. Dillon showed some impressive 0-to-60 getting to full speed after bouncing off the line, and — again — showed off his trademark ability to stay on his feet as he high-stepped through a couple diving Hokies to get to the end zone.
13:56 remaining in the 4th quarter
2nd & 12 at the Virginia Tech 44
Ryan Willis pass short left: INTERCEPTED by Tanner Karafa
The 3rd quarter was pretty awful all around for the Eagles. BC put up zero (0) yards of offense, and Virginia Tech not only scored to pull back to within 7, but the Boston College defense had to that point been completely unable to hold back the Hokies’ offensive attack.
This beauty of a big-man pick from defensive lineman Tanner Karafa turned momentum completely. The Hokies had gashed the BC defense without much resistance on their previous drive, and without this pick, it sure felt like another Virginia Tech touchdown to tie the game was inevitable. If so, the Eagles were going to find themselves in a fourth quarter shootout — one that they had not yet shown they would be able to survive.
But Karafa showed some serious skill and athleticism to turn things around out of absolutely nowhere. Virginia Tech was setting up a screen down the left side, but when Karafa was shrugged off by the VT left tackle, he didn’t bother going in for what would be a fruitless run at the quarterback — exactly what the play anticipated him doing.
You can actually see on Karafa’s face the exact moment that his reflexes kicked in, which is pretty entertaining on replay:
The result is that Karafa somehow manages to get back to not only get in the way of the screen pass, but also to get a comically long reach out to the ball, bat it back to himself, and come down with the pick. A thing of beauty in its own right, but a play that flipped the game’s momentum entirely and may have kept the game in the win column for the Eagles.
Did we make the right choice? What do you think was the most important play of the game for the Eagles?
What was the most important play of BC vs. Virginia Tech?
This poll is closed
AJ Dillon’s Game-Sealing First Down
AJ Dillon’s Game-Tying Touchdown
Tanner Karafa’s Instinctive Interception
Other — let us know in the comments!