|Connelly’s Top Ten: USA Women, Red Sox Bore Astros into Submission||Preparing for Another Year of Rebuilding for the Celtics||Red Sox Bullpen Sleeper: Matt Barnes||The Case For Trading Clay Buchholz|
Boston College bounced back from a disappointing loss at North Carolina with a wild win over Virginia Tech (6-3), another Atlantic Coast Conference rival, at Alumni Stadium. The BC offense was dominated in the yards gained category, 446 to 289, but successfully capitalized on the four second-half turnovers forced by the defensive unit to move back to .500. It was the Eagles’ first win of the season against a team with a winning record.
BC struck first, when star running back Andre Williams broke three tackles en route to a 19-yard touchdown with 1:25 left in the first quarter. The Hokies tied it up in the second period on a one-yard run by RB Trey Edmunds, then took a 10-7 lead when kicker Cody Journell connected on a 56-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
The Virginia Tech turnover-fest started with the Hokies’ first offensive possession of the third quarter, when quarterback Logan Thomas threw an interception to defensive back Manuel Asprilla, who returned it 49 yards into the VT red zone. The BC offense failed to gain a first down, but Nate Freese tied the game up with a 25-yard FG. On the next drive, Thomas gave his team the lead back by finding tight end Kalvin Cline in the end zone from one yard out on fourth down. But later in the quarter, defensive end Kasim Edebali sacked Thomas, and BC once again recovered in the opponents’ red zone. The offense didn’t miss this time around, as QB Chase Rettig hit his own TE, Jake Sinkovec, for a two-yard score, tying it up at 17.
The Hokies opened up the fourth period with another long FG by Journell, from 47 yards, less than two minutes in, which Freese countered with a 43-yarder of his own with under 10 minutes to play. It was on the next drive that linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis picked off a Thomas pass and returned it 33 yards for a TD, giving BC a seven-point lead with seven minutes to go. Virginia Tech turned the ball over on downs, and on the first play of the Eagles’ ensuing drive Williams broke out for a 62-yard TD. VT wasn’t giving up just yet, and Edmunds scored his second TD of the game, on a 22-yard pass from Thomas, to trim BC’s lead to 34-27 with three minutes left. The Hokies’ defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession, but their comeback hopes ended on another Thomas fumble deep in his own territory.
Thomas was the center of attention throughout the game, going 24-for-41 for 391 passing yards, two TDs and two INTs. 171 of those yards went to wide receiver Joshua Stanford, who had six catches. For BC, Williams continued his solid senior season with 166 yards on 33 carries, and brought his TD total to 10.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 4-4 on the season, although it was only their second W in ACC play. They are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, 3.5 games behind #3 Florida State. With only one of their remaining four games coming against a team that’s currently above .500, there’s a chance that Boston College could finish the year with a winning record, just one season after going 2-10.
Next Eagles game: November 9 @ New Mexico State (1-8), 3:30 pm ET
One week after a wild loss against Western Michigan, UMass played host to #21 Northern Illinois (9-0) at Gillette Stadium, and the outcome was predictably lopsided. The Huskies nearly doubled the Minutemen’s yardage total, 612 to 324, and showed why they’re the only ranked team in the Mid-American Conference, scoring touchdowns on each of their first five drives.
The UMass offense actually started the game well, and took an early lead on a 42-yard field goal by kicker Brendon Levengood, who replaced the underperforming Blake Lucas. NIU went on top for good soon after, with quarterback Jordan Lynch taking the ball into the end zone himself from six yards out. Levengood hit a 46-yard FG to make it a one-point game, but Lynch responded with his second rushing TD from 25 yards, then made it three with a 19-yard rush to give the Huskies a 21-6 lead after one period.
On the first drive of the second quarter, Massachusetts QB Mike Wegzyn was picked off by defensive tackle Ken Bishop, who returned the ball 14 yards to the UMass six-yard line. On the next play, running back Cameron Stingily scored a six-yard TD. The Minutemen responded well, putting together a drive that resulted in a one-yard TD for RB Lorenzo Woodley, but on the first play of the next possession, Lynch hit wide receiver Juwan Brescacin for a 66-yard TD. The Huskies would score once more before halftime, on a 15-yard run by WR Tommylee Lewis, to take a 42-13 lead at the midway point.
At the start of the third quarter, NIU marched down to the UMass 27-yard line, but kicker Mathew Sims‘s FG attempt was blocked by defensive back Quayshun Smith. Defensive lineman Brandon Potvin tried to return it, but fumbled and the Huskies got another first down at the UMass 30, and Lynch capitalized with an 11-yard TD run. Levengood scored his third FG from 44 yards, and the defense subsequently recovered a fumble by WR Angelo Sebastiano, which the offense turned into another Levengood score, from 40 yards out, to make it 49-19 after three.
The Huskies threatened early in the fourth, but RB Joel Bouagnon fumbled and the UMass defense again recovered. However, on the next drive, Wegzyn’s pass on fourth-and-10 was intercepted by saftey Dominique Ware, and backup QB Drew Hare connected with WR Chad Beebe for an 81-yard TD. Hare’s 47-yard rushing TD, followed by a turnover on downs, ended an entertaining blowout.
Lynch was 10-for-13 passing for 160 yards and a score, adding 119 yards and 4 TDs rushing on 17 carries. Wegzyn went 10-for-25 for 169 yards, with two INTs, while Woodley racked up 163 yards and the Minutemen’s only TD on 38 carries.
The loss dropped UMass to 1-8 on the season, 1-4 in MAC play, and left the Minutemen in fifth place in the East Division, 3.5 games behind Buffalo. They will have next week off before facing the final three games of the season, and a win in any of those seems unlikely.
Next Minutemen game: November 16 vs. Akron (3-7), 1 pm ET
Tags: Andre Williams, Boston College, Brendon Levengood, Cody Journell, Drew Hare, Jordan Lynch, Logan Thomas, Lorenzo Woodley, Massachusetts, Mike Wegzyn, Nate Freese, Northern Illinois, Trey Edmunds, Virginia Tech