CHESTNUT HILL — In a game that felt as changeable as the New England fall Saturday afternoon, the Boston College Eagles used a pair of reserve running backs to fight off sloppiness and inconsistencies and turn back the Louisville Cardinals, 38-20, at Alumni Stadium.
With A.J. Dillon sitting out the game on wet turf to rest an injured ankle, power back David Bailey and converted receiver Ben Glines took over the majority of running back responsibilities. Bailey had 87 yards in the second half and finished with 112 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown while Glines had 107 yards on 17 carries and a score in the win.
David Bailey became the third different 100-yard rusher for the Eagles this season, with a bulk of his damage coming in the second half. Glines recorded his second 100-yard game of the season.
“They had 47 yards rushing, we had 251,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. “We controlled the line of scrimmage completely. The game was an interesting game. It started out, we had great momentum. Then we turned the ball over two times in a row, gave them 14 points. We had another seven put back on, then another seven taken away on a penalty.
“I thought our kids were really resilient. They had complete confidence. They were physically playing tough up front. Both sides competing, then special teams. We have the blocked punt by Nolan. We had the blocked PAT by Zach Allen. Mike had a couple of good returns in there, one on kickoff return, a couple of punt returns. Our coverage was outstanding on punt and on kickoff. So I think, again, our special teams played very, very well.”
The Eagles (5-2, 2-1 ACC), wearing their “Flutie Throwback” home jerseys, won for the first time this year when not scoring at least 40 points. BC is off next week before taking on the Miami Hurricanes at Alumni Stadium on Friday Oct. 26. Louisville, which was embarrassed at home last week by Georgia Tech, 66-31, fell to 2-5 and 0-4 in the ACC. Despite that, several Louisville players noted earlier in the week that they saw a slow defensive line in Boston College. BC obviously had a point to prove.
“You see their offense, it’s really high-power,” said Allen. “They’ve got some really great athletes on there. We just thought that we had to pressure them as much as possible and get there as fast as possible. According to them we’re slow so I think we proved them wrong today. I’m not going to talk about it too much but they made it known out loud how they feel about us and we feel differently about ourselves. We wanted to prove them wrong and I think we did.”
Added Addazio, “I could tell from the sideline they played great, great penetration, surge. There was a different energy in the hotel today before we left. There was one of those deals where we felt like this is going to be a real street fight out here today. Our D-line, there were some comments made earlier in the week, our defensive line took offense to that. I think that they showed how explosive and how fast and athletic they can be, physically tough. So they played with a purpose, no doubt about it.”
Wyatt Ray had three of BC’s seven sacks while Zach Allen contributed with 3 tackles for losses and a sack as the Eagles applied pressure on Louisville quarterbacks all day.
The Eagles came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball.
On the game’s first possession, two incomplete passes were followed by an 11-yard bull rush sack by Ray back to the Louisville 13.
Anthony Brown hit tight end Hunter Long for a 26-yard connection down the right sideline and BC led, 7-0, in the opening three minutes. Another 3-and-out from Louisville gave the Eagles the ball at the Cardinals 47. Brown hit a wide open Michael Walker on a post route of 42 yards. Glines then ran it in from two yards on third down and it was 14-0 BC with 9:00 left in the opening quarter.
Eagles force another three-and-out. Take over at the UL 47.
— BC Football (@BCFootball) October 13, 2018
Then the Eagles were hit with a major case of fumblelitis.
Louisville drove to the BC 37 but the drive stalled and Louisville punted, pinning BC at their own 5. On the first play after the punt, Glines fumbled. The fumble and Louisville recovery was confirmed after a replay that took several minutes.
Boston College appeared on the verge of pulling off a big goal line stand. But on fourth down, Cardinals running back Mal Cunningham, who was ruled stopped short of the goal line. But after a 6-minute replay review, the ruling on the field was overturned and the Cardinals were on the board after a missed extra point.
On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Walker fumbled the return and Louisville took over at the BC 40. Quarterback Hassan Hall kept it and ran it in from three yards and trailed only, 14-13. Louisville’s defense started to show some fight and BC couldn’t move the ball. The Cardinals continued their momentum with a 75-yard drive that was capped off by a Jawon Pass run out to the right, untouched, for a go-ahead TD and a 20-14 lead.
— BC Football (@BCFootball) October 13, 2018
Desperately needing a momentum turn in the worst way, the Eagles got it when Nolan Borgersen blocked a punt and Travis Levy recovered in the end zone to give BC the lead again at 21-20. It was the second straight week Levy recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score. BC would tack on a 38-yard field goal from Colton Lichtenberg with :04 remaining in the first half and a 24-20 halftime lead.
BC seemed destined to add to its lead on its second drive of the second half, as David Bailey took over running responsibilities. He ran around the left side and raced into the end zone, break a pair of tackles in the process. But the scoring run was wiped out by a holding call on left tackle Aaron Monteiro. BC managed to make it down to the Louisville 5 where it faced 4th-and-1. BC got a call in but there was late confusion from quarterback Anthony Brown. After the timeout, Bailey was stuffed on the run for no gain.
UL was marching to end the third quarter, when linebacker Max Richardson sacked Pass on third down to force a 4th-and-18. That forced a UL punt to open the 4th.
While BC didn’t convert a fourth-down in the third quarter, they executed perfectly on a late sub-in of Travis Levy in the fourth quarter. The 20-yard completion from Brown to Levy on fourth down put the ball at the UL 3. Two plays later, Bailey ran it in for a 31-20 lead with 10:30 left in the fourth. That drive capped an impressive 93-yard drive in 13 plays, taking only 4:19 of the clock.
On third-and-9 from in the fourth quarter, broke out for a 41-yard gain down to the Louisville 25. Jeff Smith’s 5-yard TD run around the left side put the game away with 3:34 left.
“I think in the process, we were able to see a young running back emerge, a big running back that got his opportunity to come in here, which is a great thing for us to have depth at that position. You saw Benny and Travis making a bunch of great plays in there,” Addazio said. “All in all, we’re going to head into the bye week 5-2. Have a chance to get rested, have a chance to get AJ back healthy and ready to roll, have a strong football team heading down the back end of this season.
“We’ve been an explosive team on both sides of the ball, been a little bit inconsistent. Some of those inconsistencies were better today. If you were on the sideline or near the sideline, that was a physical football game. It was a BC game. We were able to come out on top. Very, very proud of our team. I think what you see is a team that’s going to come off a bye week in a good place.”