The Replay: Back in the game with victory #1

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The first quarter entered its final stages on Saturday night, with Boston College unexpectedly finding themselves in a dogfight against Maine. The FCS-level Black Bears played with their hair on fire, and after earning early success against the Eagles, BC decided to dial in an explosive game to stop the visitors’ charge.

The call was to the quarterback Phil Jurkovec and receiver Zay Flowers, and as Jurkovec retreated into play, the offensive line in front of him formed an interlocking cocoon. He stepped forward and planted his front foot, and he fired a dart down at Flowers, who had been covered in a single blanket. The receiver took a step and the rocket across the sky from Chestnut Hill rainbowed towards it as it traveled over 40 meters in the air. He landed straight into his breadbasket, and after Flowers shoved his way into the end zone for the remaining seven yards, BC got the moment he had been looking for when the offense spat in seething frustration. .

Hitting that play restored confidence in the offense, and while Saturday was by no means perfect, the 38-17 victory over Maine gave the Eagles a marked step forward with their first win of the season.

“We won a game,” said the head coach Jeff Hafley following. “Are there things we could have done better? Yes. We’ve improved in a lot of areas, and in some areas I think we’ve taken a bit of a step back, but now we have to watch the movie and train [the team] hard. There were times when I thought we could have gotten away with the game, and we just didn’t finish it, but I’m excited to watch the movie. It was great to be with the guys in the locker room. They are excited to get a win, gain confidence and try to move things in the right direction.”

Finding explosiveness was key to leveling a Maine team that opened the game with a strong performance guided by a unique pattern. He played four linemen but lined up a nose tackle directly over the center Drew Kendall, and the unorthodox style neutralized the center’s ability to assist moves going left or right. On separate occasions, defensive forfeits moved an inside lineman to either left guard Finn Dirstine or right guard Dwayne Allickand the splits prevented the front row from progressing in the running game.

It required adjustment, and Flowers’ deep ball guided the line to its first real success of the season. Once set up, good protection gave Jurkovec time to hit a deep pass to Jaden Williams while the two Georges Takacs and Jaelen Gill cleared under roads for catching and running opportunities. In turn, the running game gained traction and at the end of the game the first big escape run of the year saw Pat Garwo rumble 30 yards out for a game-winning touchdown after sliding off a tackle attempt.

“I’ll have to watch the movie closely to see what it really looked like, but there was a marked improvement in football protection and management, especially towards the end,” Hafley said. “They were just bringing everyone in, and we were able to hit the ball and finish the way we did. Our offense scored when everyone knew we had to run, and we ran it anyway [successfully]. A lot of that late in the game had to do with those inside guys, but we’ll be watching and evaluating him closely. We’re going to train them hard, but I’m just proud of the way these guys played.”

Establishing those positives allowed BC to finish with some of their best statistical performances since BC started 4-0 last season. Jurkovec in particular finished with 320 yards to become the 10th career 4,000-yard passer in program history, and his two touchdown passes propelled him to a tie with Shawn Halloran for eighth all-time. It was his first 300-yard game of the season and seventh of his career, which is fifth all-time.

His 51-yard run to Flowers was the first receiving touchdown by an Eagle that has gone 50 or more yards since the duo tied for a 77-yard run against Pittsburgh in 2020, and it helped Flowers pass. tied for second in program history with 20 career touchdowns while also ranking fifth all-time with 2,264 receiving yards. He was targeted 16 times and finished with eight catches for 89 yards.

Williams and tight end Georges Takacs, meanwhile, also caught balls from 50 yards, although the tight end was eventually credited as a 34-yard reception due to a foul holding penalty. Takacs also produced his first touchdown since last November on a return to the end zone corner, and Williams scored his first rushing touchdown with a nine-yard run across the line of scrimmage that doubled as a BC’s first running score of the season. Garwo then added the second to freeze the game, and Jaelen Gill emerged with two catches on two targets for 54 yards.

“I just raced,” Williams said. “When I go there I don’t think anyone can run with me, and I think that showed today. It’s exciting because when you get a game called for you, you you just feel anxious and ready to run. I think that kind of thing makes me run faster.”

“It’s tough for some deep lanes,” Jurkovec said. “The offensive line has to hold the pocket for a little while every time we shoot, but Zay and Jaden are so quick they can outrun any defense. Every defense we face this year has to respect that. .”

Offensive performances erased what started with a surprising lead from Maine after the Black Bears disrupted BC’s synergy on both sides of the ball behind quarterback Joe Fagnano and an unorthodox style built around his ability to throw in the field. He shunned the roads below in favor of a dual-threat run, but finished with 289 passing yards after attempting 43 throws with 21 completions.

“Their quarterback is a good player,” Hafley said. “He threw the ball a lot and had two touchdowns, and that’s the most [production] we gave up. I want to watch the movie closely to see how it goes, but it’s up to all of us to contain it. At the end of the day, I’m sure there are things we’re going to look at.”

How those two touchdowns were scored became emblematic of a game story built around the duality separating BC’s dominance from a situation that avoided falling into a frustrating trap. Statistically, the Eagles gained 431 yards and scored 38 points to win their 33rd consecutive game against a former Division I-AA team, but the 21-point advantage probably could have been greater if not for the missed opportunities, including failed kickoff coverage. in the first quarter that led to Maine temporarily regaining the lead after taking Flowers.

Likewise, the game could have been closer after Maine came within 14 points in the fourth quarter, but BC slammed the door on the Black Bears by finishing plays and shots on both sides of the ball . defensively, Jason Master had an interception late in the second quarter, and Vinny DePalma forced a fumble on this defensive back Josh DeBerry recovered while Kam Arnold rumbled 49 yards after his own interception in space against Fagnano.

“We were in the zone,” Hafley said, “and it looked like the quarterback was looking straight. [Arnold]. He backed up and [the throw] came to him. I would have liked to see him score. We had one with Elijah [Jones] when they scattered and we threw DeBerry aside. This one was too good to be true, and it was a walk-in. But this is where we need to finish more. If we go up [by] 21 there and make goals in the field, we run away with it. I wish I could have done that earlier in the game, but that doesn’t take anything away from Maine. Those guys played really hard and I thought their coaches had a good plan.”

Ultimately, singing the fight song in the locker room was still paramount to everything else. After two weeks of disappointing finishes and losses, BC came alive with their first win of the season. The Eagles were the better team on Saturday night, and although the 60-minute production was far from perfect, the effort counted and produced a satisfaction that once again brought confidence back to Chestnut Hill.

“We got our first win,” Jurkovec said, “and the guys could feel that win. It was sloppy at times, and we let them hang around when we had a chance to end the game in the second half, but I was really happy with the way the [offensive line] play. We managed the ball well, and there are just a lot of positives that we can build on from this game.”

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