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Column: Euphoric Feeling Sets In At Alumni

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Emmett Cleary said it all without saying a single word: finally.

As Johnathan Coleman dashed into the end zone with the game-winning touchdown on Saturday, Boston College could finally take a breath. Cleary did just that, making a motion as he looked up to the sky and held out his arms, as if the weight of the world had just been lifted off his shoulders.

And in a way, it was. A win doesn’t fix everything, but it does help a lot. The Eagles were by no means perfect for 60 minutes against Maryland, but as the final seconds ticked away in the fourth quarter and Chase Rettig took a knee for a final time before the team flooded the field in euphoria, perfection didn’t matter. The win did.

That euphoric feeling has been an unfamiliar one for BC this year but it sure was a welcome one on Saturday. As the Eagles left the field, players were laughing, patting each other on the back, and going up for chest bumps. A few players even fell down after an awkward chest bump in the air, but that’s to be expected—it’s the first opportunity all year they’ve had to truly celebrate.

The first half featured the defense that BC thought it could have all year, but had yet to find. Yes, the Eagles were facing Maryland’s fourth-string quarterback in Caleb Rowe, but they also executed. They made plays that were missing in the first seven games of the season, as the results piled up in the loss column.

Freshman Justin Simmons made a game-changing play at the end of the first half, collecting his first career interception to shut down the Terrapins and make sure they didn’t get on the scoreboard before going into the locker room. The number of times BC has allowed its opponent to score with less than five minutes in the first half is incredibly frustrating, but Simmons changed that trend. It was exactly what head coach Frank Spaziani has been looking for—someone to step up in a pressure situation.

Meanwhile, the drive that Rettig orchestrated with just minutes remaining in the game was the type of firepower the offense had been lacking all year. The cynic in me had an inkling of feeling that the Eagles might just pull another three-and-out as they had so many times before, but that final drive was different. Rettig looked like the star quarterback he’s capable of being, and led his team 85 yards down the field. He looked to his usual targets in Amidon and Pantale, and they came up with clutch catches, even though drops had plagued them various times in prior games, but that final drive was different. And just when it seemed like everyone had forgotten about him, including the Maryland defense, Coleman stormed into the end zone with the game-winning reception. That final drive was different.

For the veteran players on the team like Cleary, Saturday was a reminder of how fun football could be. For the plethora of freshmen on squad, it was almost a tutorial on what BC football is all about: a tough, grind-it-out victory that wasn’t always pretty, but it got the job done.

As the Alma Mater was playing, every single BC player stood facing the student section with a beaming smile across his face. There was no hiding the fact that the Eagles were proud of what they had accomplished. Midway through the playing of the Alma Mater, I locked eyes with Nick Clancy. The linebacker, who continually leaves everything he has out on the field, pointed and gave me a thumbs up, as if to say, “See? I told you we could do it.”
I’ve talked with Clancy at almost every Wednesday media luncheon this season, and every time he has remained upbeat and determined heading into each game. Finally, on Saturday, he had an ACC win to back up his words.

They say that when you lose, your problems are magnified, but when you win, those problems are pacified, at least for the time being. That’s exactly the situation BC finds itself in right now. And it’s exactly what it needs.

 

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