FOOTBALL: Defense, Freshmen Come Up Big In BC's Win
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Poised to snap a five-game losing streak and tally its first ACC victory in 2012, the Boston College football team delivered a dramatic 20-17 victory against conference rival Maryland on Saturday afternoon.
Winning for the first time since Week Two against Maine, the Eagles put together arguably their best collective effort so far this season. A combination of effective special teams, solid defense, and timely offense helped BC avoid its worst start since 1989. Saturday’s matchup not only showcased the Eagles’ trademark grit and perseverance, but also allowed them to translate hard work to the win column.
“What can I say, it was an exciting, exhilarating victory,” said head coach Frank Spaziani. “I can’t say enough about the job that the kids did to hang in there … players come to work, and it finally paid off.”
Defense Wins Ballgames
Despite the Eagles’ offensive inconsistencies on Saturday, their sound defensive effort allowed them to stay competitive for all four quarters. It marked the first time in nearly two years that BC kept its opponent off of the scoreboard in the first half, as interceptions by lineman Kieran Borcich and defensive back Justin Simmons contributed by endingMaryland drives. Despite missing some opportunities, including a dropped interception by linebacker Nick Clancy and blown coverage on the Terps’ ensuing go-ahead touchdown, BC’s D did enough to hold an FBS opponent under 22 points for the first time all season.
“I thought the defense played well,” Clancy remarked, having contributed three pass break-ups to the defensive performance. “In the past, we’ve talked about which plays you wish you could have had back, the inconsistencies on defense. I think that’s what was so important today—everybody was doing their job and was playing BC football from start to finish.”
Although the Eagles benefited from facing fourth-string Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe, a true freshman making his first collegiate start, they took nothing for granted on the defensive side of the ball. Thanks to a laudable performance from BC’s defensive line and a timely sack from junior Kevin Pierre-Louis, Spaziani’s squad consistently applied pressure and forced Rowe to make mistakes. Ultimately, the Terrapins’ quarterback’s final miscue landed in the hands of sophomore defensive back Spenser Rositano to seal the Eagles’ win.
“We were able to make some plays,” Spaziani said of his team’s defense. “Now we have to build on that and make some more. That’s what happens when you play a little defense—you can win some games.”
While veterans such as Clancy and Pierre-Louis were driving forces in Saturday’s game, the youth on BC’s roster also played a pivotal role on both sides of the ball. The Eagles put their first points on the board after quarterback Chase Rettig hit true freshman David Dudeck on the run with a 19-yard touchdown strike. Dudeck’s score was the first of his career, and showcased his abilities as a receiver in addition to the role he’s played as a stopgap in a beleaguered BC backfield. Yet he credited the welcoming atmosphere created by his teammates for his early success.
“I think one of the things that helped … is since day one when we got here, we’ve been welcomed,” Dudeck said. “It’s a family, it’s a tight atmosphere in the locker room down there, and that’s helped tremendously.”
While Dudeck helped put BC on the scoreboard, Simmons did all he could to keep Maryland off of it. In addition to his first career interception, the true freshman recorded seven tackles and made his presence known as a potential fixture in the Eagles’ defensive plans moving forward.
“Coach [Mike] Siravo has preached from day one that—when all freshmen were third or fourth string—we’re going to need you this year so prepare as if you were a first-string guy,” Simmons said. “For all of our freshmen, that’s been our mentality from day one—preparing and making the older guys work. Today all we did was put what we’ve learned in practice into the game.”
‘Spiffy’ on Special Teams
Special teams can either win or lose close football games, and the Eagles used it to their advantage against Maryland. Kicker Nate Freese continued an excellent junior year, launching two pivotal field goals through the uprights from 36 and 28 yards out. His clutch performance made him 12-for-12 on attempts from under 50 yards for the season.
Spiffy Evans also stood out once again as a special teams weapon in his role as a returner. The sophomore averaged 50 yards on his returns for the day, setting the Eagles up to score on their first couple of drives.
“I felt like I gave us a spark being able to make something happen once I got the ball in my hand, and field position is vital as always,” Evans said. With his speed and ability to pick up blocks, Spiffy continues to be a bright spot in the Eagles’ season.