FOOTBALL: At Last
After Blowing Its Lead, BC Uses Last-Minute Drive To Secure First ACC Win
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
It took 10 failed attempts and nearly 52 minutes of game time before Boston College finally converted a third down in its 20-17 win against Maryland on Saturday in Chestnut Hill.
After one of the impressive opening drives that offensive coordinator Doug Martin has come to be known for put the Eagles on the board with a David Dudeck touchdown, the BC offense faced third downs at an average distance of over 10 yards from the first down marker. Not only was the unit making no push on first and second down, but quarterback Chase Rettig and the running backs were also continuously wrapped up in the backfield, forcing unreasonable distances from which they had to convert.
Trailing the Terrapins 17-13 with eight minutes left, Rettig finally set the Eagles up with a workable third-and-two before hitting wide receiver Alex Amidon for the first down. It looked like Rettig finally had his chance to lead the game-winning drive that has fallen apart so often this season, but then it literally slipped through his hands.
On the next play, Maryland’s star defensive lineman Joe Vellano broke through the line and, despite being held desperately by the BC offensive line, stripped Rettig of the ball as the quarterback saw a touchdown developing on a double-move down the field. Before Rettig could find the ball, the Terrapins had pounced on it, almost assuredly ending the game.
The Eagles had seen this before. They’d seen a building comeback effort shattered by one small mistake, only this time it’d be different. Unlike in all of the previous weeks, the BC defense was playing well. Senior linebacker Nick Clancy has repeatedly said that the defense wants to be on the field with the game on its shoulders, and here was another chance.
“It was a big momentum swing getting the D off the field and not having the offense capitalize on that stop was frustrating, but the attitude of our defense was almost like we wanted to be out there,” Clancy said. “I’ve never seen our D-linemen so fired up to be back on the field and our DBs so ready to play. I think that was a huge part in why we were so successful today. It was almost like we wanted to be out there on the field and we wanted the game on our shoulders.”
The Eagles forced a three-and-out using the same pressure they’d put on true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe all day. After a Maryland punt, the BC offense took over with 4:45 left and 85 yards between it and the game-winning touchdown.
Rettig brought his team into the huddle and told them they’d been here before. He told them they could do it. They all knew they couldn’t afford any penalties or untimely mistakes on this one drive that could save their season for one more week.
“Coach Martin says to let it come down to two minutes left and we have the ball and he’s going to take us any day to win the game so that’s kind of been our mindset,” Amidon said. “Just let us have the ball with two minutes left to go win the game.”
Rettig targeted Amidon and tight end Chris Pantale almost exclusively during BC’s drive down the field. The big tight end and the speedy wide receiver couldn’t be contained on routes down the middle. Facing a crucial third-and-nine with 1:39 left, the same long third down that held this offense back throughout the game and throughout its season, Rettig fired a 17-yard dart to a streaking Amidon as the quarterback was drilled onto his back.
After a quick booth review, Amidon’s diving catch was confirmed. The play not only saved the drive, but it also set up the winning touchdown. Two plays later, Amidon cut across the field again and Rettig gave every indication he was looking to hit his go-to receiver on the same route that they’d scored on multiple times this season, but instead Rettig threw a fake in Amidon’s direction, leaving Johnathan Coleman wide open on a bubble route to the right side of the field. Coleman sprinted into the end zone, knocking over Baldwin and embracing his teammates with a secure 20-17 lead.
Spenser Rositano came up with a big interception early in Maryland’s final, desperate drive to seal the victory. BC’s problems aren’t fixed, outside of that last drive and the first drive the offense couldn’t get going, and the defense still gave up big plays, but this team needed a win and, at least for one week, the Eagles can take a much-needed deep breath before continuing with their season.
“The last five weeks have been tough obviously,” Rettig said. “Offensively we’ve done some good things this year, and people have taken notice, but we could have done more in other games. It’s just nice that we were able to put it together at the end of the game there and score a touchdown. I think how we won the game today definitely gives us momentum going into next week.”
“It feels great,” Amidon said. “Just getting a win—it feels so good. And the atmosphere in the locker room, everyone is so excited about it. It doesn’t fix everything, but it just feels awesome. So we’re 1-0 today, that’s how I think about it.”