The 4th quarter of yesterday’s Quick Lane Bowl game likely engendered among Eagles fans unpleasant memories of the season opener — when BC allowed Georgia Tech to score and win in the final quarter. Unlike that first game, however, when BC’s defense allowed a 59-yard drive in the last three minutes, the Eagles’ defense — particularly the defensive line — was stout at the end. BC held on to win its first bowl game since 2007, beating Maryland, 36-30.
The win was BC’s third in a row, to end the season 7-6. It was also the first bowl win under Coach Steve Addazio, as the Eagles had lost bowl games in 2013 and 2014. They did not qualify for a bowl last season.
The game took an unusual turn in the first half, especially the 2nd quarter, as BC’s offense was both exciting and prolific. With a relatively prosaic 6-0 lead at the end of the 1st quarter, the Eagles scored 4 times in the next quarter to take a 29-13 halftime lead. Patrick Towles threw 2 touchdown passes, for 2 yards to TE Tommy Sweeney and for 49 yards to WR Michael Walker. In between, he received a 20-yard touchdown pass from WR Jeff Smith, a former QB, who had gotten the ball on a trick reverse. Many BC fans likely asked, “Where’s this team been?” K Mike Knoll also had a 22-yard field goal in the quarter.
It needs to be noted, also, that, in that same quarter, BC gave up two long touchdown runs, of 62 and 30 yards, to Maryland running back Ty Johnson.
BC’s halftime point total was the most it had scored in any half all year. The second half offense, especially in the 4th quarter, however, nowhere close to being as effective as that of the first half.
The Eagles’ only score in the second half was the recovery of a Maryland fumble, essentially on the goal line, to make the score 36-13. The Terrapins, on the other hand, continued to score on long plays. Two touchdown passes, of 63 and 52 yards, brought Maryland to within 9 points, 36-27.
It may have seemed that the 4th quarter was played entirely on BC’s side of the field, even in the red zone, but it was only about 9 minutes . . . 9 really long minutes.
With 10:39 remaining in the game, BC started on its 41-yard line. A rush for 2 yards was followed by a sack for a loss of 3 yards and then a Maryland pass interception. For the next 5 minutes of clock time, the Terrapins had 9 plays, all within the BC 17-yard line, 3 within the 2-yard line, and failed to score. BC’s defense pressured the Maryland QB often and sacked him twice, pushing Maryland back to BC’s 36. A facemask penalty on that 2nd sack, however, gave the ball to Maryland on BC’s 13. Maryland ran to the 1-yard line, but BC recovered a fumble on the BC 2.
So that should put an end to it, right? Nah. Give Maryland the ball again! BC ran the ball up the middle 3 times for a total of 3 yards, with the Terrapins recovering a Jon Hilliman fumble on the BC 5. Maryland then threw 3 consecutive incomplete passes and kicked a field goal.
Give Maryland still another chance? Sure! Returning the kickoff to its 21, BC reverted to its usual offense this season, running up the middle for a total of 5 yards and then punting. Starting on its 35, Maryland threw 3 incomplete passes and DE Harold Landry sacked the Terrapin QB on 4th down to get BC the ball with 1:25 remaining. That actually secured the win for BC.
BC’s entire defensive line was deservedly named the game’s most valuable “player.” BC sacked the Maryland QB 8 times for 57 yards, and pushed the Terrapins back a total of 80 yards. Sophomore DT Ray Smith, from Carlsbad and a grad of Cathedral Catholic, made only 1 tackle in the game, but it was a 10-yard sack. He also had a video highlight moment, returning a possible fumble for a touchdown, but the Maryland runner was ruled down before the fumble.
Maryland outgained the Eagles, 357 yards to 348, and had 17 first downs to BC’s 15. BC’s Towles was 10-22 for 151 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Hilliman gained 79 yards for BC in 29 carries. Myles Willis rushed twice for 74 yards.
Through the regular season this year, BC’s total offense ranked 127th out of 128 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Yesterday’s bowl game, at least most of it, was a good time to try something different.
BC’s 2017 season opens at Northern Illinois on September 1, a Friday. Two Saturdays later, the Eagles host Notre Dame. In addition to the ACC conference schedule, still to be announced, BC is to play UConn and Central Michigan.