Chestnut Hill, MA- Boston College and Miami are among the Atlantic Coast conference’s most compelling programs. The Eagles feature star runner AJ Dillon and are surging towards the rankings. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have slumped since their 10-0 start to last season and loss to Pittsburgh. The teams going in opposite directions met on Friday night and reinforced their program’s respective directions after a fun game.
It was a special night for BC: Red Bandanna night, a chance to honor former lacrosse star Welles Crowther. The 1999 Boston College graduate sacrificed himself to save a dozen lives on September 11th, 2001. BC honored his family before the game and distributed red bandannas to everyone in attendance. The surge of emotion, coupled with BC getting AJ Dillon back from injury, gave the Eagles the needed energy the kick.
The defense forced Miami to punt away the opening possession then drove 88 yards behind Dillon and quarterback Anthony Brown. In addition, BC offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler dialed up a trick play. Running Back Jeff Smith fired a 23-yard pass to Brown and BC completed the drive with a Brown touchdown pass to Smith, reverting to normal roles. Miami answered with a 53-yard kickoff return by DeeJay Dallas, then a 56-yard drive capped by a 13-yard pass from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham for a touchdown.
BC’s attack did not relent. They drove 77 yards and reclaimed the lead immediately after Miami’s drive. Jeff Smith threw another gadget pass for a big gain. The Senior from St. Petersburg, FL, completed both his passes for 58 yards. Anthony Brown, the normal QB, capped the drive by faking the defense to the right and sauntering into the left side of the end zone from five yards out. Jim Reid’s defense stuffed the Hurricanes on three downs and forced another punt. BC ended the first quarter driving and ahead 14-7.
The Eagles ate the first 5:56 of the second quarter and 7:04 overall to keep Miami off the field and Colton Lichtenberg kicked a 21-yard field goal to extend BC’s lead. Mark Richt’s squad answered back with another strong DeeJay Dallas return (29 yards) and another scoring drive. This one was 64 yards and ended with Dallas running in a 10-yard touchdown. The defenses closed the quarter with strong performances, including a combined sack for BC’s Wyatt Ray and Max Richardson. BC led 17-14 at the half.
The offenses wrote the first half’s story. The defenses wrote most of the second half’s. BC got the ball to start the half but punted. Miami then started driving until the Eagles struck for the game’s first turnover. Max Richardson decked Rosier as he threw the ball. It pinballed around a few players before Hamp Cheevers caught and controlled his fifth interception this season. The Junior from Trenton, FL, and only a two-star recruit out of Trenton High School, is now tied with LSU’s Grant Delpit for the most interceptions in the FBS. BC capitalized on that turnover with Colton Lichtenberg’s second field goal of the night, a 23 yarder, for a 20-14 lead.
Miami’s next drive was a disaster from start to finish. DeeJay Dallas, effective for 138 kick return yards and 168 total yards, made his only mistake of the night. The sophomore from Brunswick, GA, tried fielding a bouncing kickoff. He instead touched the ball before it went out of bounds at the Hurricane’s three-yard line. Rosier was then intercepted by Taj-Amir Torres. AJ Dillon immediately punctuated his return from injury with a 14-yard touchdown run one play after the pick. BC held their 27-14 lead the remainder of the night.
Miami broke out the turnover chain when Romeo Finley picked off Brown. The ‘Canes then mounted a drive to the Eagles’ three-yard line early in the fourth but failed to score. Torres broke up a fourth-down pass play from Rosier to Darrel Langham to end the drive. The play was reviewed for targeting but stood for BC. The Eagles milked 7:20 off the clock and never allowed Miami beyond their own 44 the rest of the night. BC closed out a 27-14 victory as their fans stormed the field.
The win pushes the Eagles to 6-2 and is only the sixth victory over Miami in the program’s history. AJ Dillon ran the ball 32 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. He added 18 receiving yards for 167 total yards, most in the game. Anthony Brown completed 15 of 28 passes for 152 yards and was intercepted only once. BC piled up 216 rushing yards, 210 passing yards, and 426 total yards against the nation’s top ranked defense. Connor Strachan and Zach Allen had solo sacks while Max Richardson and Wyatt Ray combined for a third. Isaiah McDuffie recorded a team-high 12 tackles. The win puts BC in second place of the ACC’s Atlantic Division behind only Clemson and makes the Eagles bowl eligible.
Head Coach Steve Addazio spoke after the game. “Well, it was an electric atmosphere out there tonight. Very, very inspired game. I thought our kids came out and played really physical, really hard, really tough. We had a mindset as a team that we were gonna attack with everything we had and empty the chamber. You saw that in the first half on offense. We beat a good football team at home. We’re bowl eligible for the fifth time in six years. And as a team, we didn’t mention that. I think that speaks to where we are now.”
BC travels to Blacksburg, VA, next week to face the ACC Coastal’s First Placed Virginia Tech Hokies. Kickoff at Lane Stadium is scheduled for 3:45 pm on Saturday, November 3rd. The Eagles next are home on November 10th against Number 2 Clemson.
Miami’s record drops to 5-3 and to fourth place in the ACC Coastal Division. The Hurricanes have lost six of their last 11 games since losing to Pittsburgh last November 24th. The offense was held to 155 rushing yards, 149 passing yards, and 304 total yards. Quarterback continues to be a struggling point, with Malik Rosier going 18-35 for 149 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He also led the Hurricanes with 90 rushing yards. Travis Homer was second with 40. Sheldrick Redwine recorded a game-high 14 tackles.
Head Coach Mark Richt kept optimistic after the game. “We’ve got to get back to work. This coastal division is a bit wild. We’re still battling for that championship. We’ve got to keep battling.” His players, namely DeeJay Dallas, echoed their coach’s sentiments. “Everything’s not clicking on all cylinders. So we’re gonna go back to the drawing board on Sunday and see what we can do.”
Miami returns home to host the Duke Blue Devils. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm on Saturday, November 3rd, at Hard Rock Stadium.