|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
For the second time in three weeks, Boston College put up a fight against a top 10 team, taking a lead into the fourth quarter before falling to third-ranked Clemson (6-0) at Memorial Stadium. The defense was a particularly bright spot for the Eagles, who fell to 3-3 on the season, against a Clemson team that averages more than 40 points per game.
The Tigers marched downfield on their first drive, but a rare missed field goal by kicker Chandler Catanzaro from just 25 yards was a harbinger of the struggle that lay ahead. Running back Myles Willis scored his first career touchdown early in the second quarter on a 38-yard run to cap off a 10-play, 93-yard drive and put BC on top. The Eagles’ defense recovered two Clemson fumbles and forced two turnovers on downs in the quarter, but the offense came up against the Tigers’ own stout D, with quarterback Chase Rettig having a pass picked off by safety Korrin Wiggins. As time expired in the first half, Catanzaro booted a 35-yard FG to put Clemson on the board.
The Clemson offense finally broke through midway through the third period, when QB Tajh Boyd hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 48-yard TD. But Rettig bounced right back, connecting with WR Alex Amidon for a 69-yard score on the first play of the next drive, putting BC back on top 14-10.
Early in the fourth, Boyd ran the ball in himself from six yards out for what would prove to be the go-ahead TD. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Rettig was sacked and lost the football, which defensive end Vic Beasley picked up and returned 13 yards for the score, putting the nail in BC’s coffin. Neither team’s offense could get within FG range the rest of the way.
Boyd finished the day 30-for-44 passing for 334 yards, with Watkins recording seven receptions for 101 yards. Rettig had 192 passing yards while completing 13 of 21 pass attempts. Amidon racked up 121 yards on six catches.
The loss was Boston College’s second in Atlantic Coast Conference play, dropping the Eagles to fifth place in the Atlantic Division standings. They will now have next weekend off before facing the second half of the season, where they will look to continue to play .500 ball.
Next Eagles game: October 26 @ North Carolina (1-4), time TBD
UMass was the victor in a battle of winless teams at Gillette Stadium, taking its first win of the season over Miami (OH) (0-6). The game was as ugly as could be expected, with intercepted passes, missed field goals and punts on full display.
Massachusetts quarterback A. J. Doyle threw his first pick of the game on the first drive, with defensive back Heath Harding coming up with the ball in the red zone. On the next possession, Doyle found wide receiver Elgin Long for a 22-yard touchdown. On the third drive, the Minutemen again made it into Miami territory, but kicker Blake Lucas missed the long field goal attempt.
The RedHawks were finally able to capitalize early in the second quarter, tying the game up with a 13-yard TD pass from QB Austin Boucher to tight end Steve Marck. Later in the period, UMass DB Khary Bailey-Smith had a red zone interception of his own, but Doyle followed that up with his second pick of the game, to DB Chrishawn Dupuy with less than 10 seconds to go in the first half.
Miami took the lead early in the third period on a 45-yard FG by kicker Kaleb Patterson, but the Minutemen responded with a nine-play, 81-yard drive, capped off by a 47-yard Doyle TD pass to TE Rob Blanchflower, which put them up for good.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Bailey-Smith again picked off Boucher and returned the ball 25 yards, and Lucas subsequently scored a 25-yard FG to widen the UMass lead to seven points. The RedHawks made it all the way to the Minutemen’s 23-yard line before turning the ball over on downs, and their next possession ended with Boucher’s third interception of the game, this one coming courtesy of DB Devin Brown. Lucas missed a 44-yard FG that would have put the game out of reach, but Miami couldn’t make it out of its own territory on its final drive.
Doyle finished 19-for-35 for 249 yards, two TDs and two INTs, while Boucher only completed 14 of 34 passes for 166 yards, with one score and three picks. The win was doubly valuable for the Minutemen for being in conference play, as it moved them up to fourth place in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division. UMass only won one game all last season, and with two of its next four games coming against the two worst teams in the MAC, the Minutemen have a good chance of surpassing that total in 2013.
Next Minutemen game: October 19 @ Buffalo (4-2), 3:30 pm ET