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FOOTBALL: Defense Returns, Eagles Fly Past Maine

Improved Defensive Effort Leads BC Over Maine, While Offense Gets Going After Slow Start

Asst. Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Graham Beck / Heights Editor

After a slow and sluggish first quarter, Boston College responded with some big plays on both sides of the ball to defeat the Maine Black Bears 34-3 on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium. The win was the first of the season for the Eagles, who let one slip away last week in their opener against Miami.

“I think it’s huge,” senior linebacker Nick Clancy said. “Every year, our first goal is to get our first victory. In a lot of ways, it’s the hardest one for us to get. We now have this first win under our belt. We have some momentum now and guys have good energy and our psyche is in a good place right now.”
Although Maine plays in the lower FCS division of college football, the defense that gave up 41 points to the Hurricanes looked much more on-point in its second outing.

“They played well,” said head coach Frank Spaziani of his defense. “Maine is well-organized. They have a good plan. They are well-coached. They understand what they are doing. The defense did some nice things. We were in better position, it looked to me, on some things. Once again, we are going to have to be better in a lot of areas, but they did a good job.”
The defense didn’t dominate in a way that would eliminate all concerns from last week, but it played well enough to at least relieve some worry. As the offense stuttered early on, the defense picked up the slack. Deuce Finch fumbled the ball on BC’s third drive midway through the first quarter, allowing the Black Bears to take over with less than 20 yards to score. Solid, fundamental execution from the Eagles would hold Maine to only a field goal.

“It was big,” junior linebacker Steele Divitto said. “For us, it was a confidence thing. The more stops we get and the better we respond to tougher situations, they really pay dividends down the road. I feel that builds confidence in everyone.”
As the game moved into the second quarter with the Black Bears still leading 3-0, the defense continued to do its job while quarterback Chase Rettig and the offense struggled to find any rhythm.

“I have a new bald spot in the back of my head,” Spaziani said. “It was an inauspicious start. Those things are there. They need to be corrected. We are not going to be able to go the rest of the season, playing the schedule that we play, doing that.”
Throughout the whole game, Maine only converted three of its 18 third downs, something the Eagles stressed all week in preparation.

“That is always one of our MOs,” Divitto said. “You want to stop them on third down, get off the field and get the offense in and give them a shot. The offense did an awesome job taking care of the ball. They were a little sloppy in the beginning, but they responded well.”

BC stuck to its base defense all game, and it worked.

“I am really proud of the way the defense played,” Clancy said. “Last week, we gave up a lot of big plays. During the week, we prepared to stop those big plays. This means everybody doing their jobs, everybody executing the defense that we are in together. We did that today. We barely ran anything other than the base today. We lined up with [Maine], got everyone set, and played BC football. We came down and we stopped them.”

Midway through the second quarter, the BC offense hit its stride as Rettig led a nine play, 62-yard drive down the field that was capped off with a touchdown throw to sophomore wide receiver Spiffy Evans, the first of his career. Rettig called for Evans to run a fade against single coverage on the goal line and the play worked just as planned. A fumbled snap from Maine allowed the Eagles to start their next drive in the red zone, and this time it was Johnathan Coleman catching a fade on the other side of the end zone from Rettig to put BC up 14-3.

Kicker Nate Freese would then nail back-to-back field goals, one from 39 yards and one from 29 yards, to remain perfect on the season and put the Eagles up 20-3. Evans made noise again with an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown when the Maine punter outkicked his unit’s coverage, leaving room for Evans to burst through a gaping hole.

Late in the third quarter, Alex Amidon caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Rettig as the Eagles went ahead 34-3, concluding the scoring in the contest.

It’s tough to judge how well the defense actually played given the competition on the field, but they undoubtedly took care of business. Allowing just 193 yards of total offense on 2.6 yards per play and forcing three turnovers is exactly what this group needed heading into a matchup with a very talented Northwestern offense on the road
“I am just ready to see where it goes with Northwestern next week,” Clancy said.

“We’re going to a different stratosphere now,” Spaziani said. “We’ve got two games under our belt. We’re going on the road. It’s a game that we need to go play well. We took some steps forward in areas, but we’ve got 10 tough games coming up and we’ve got to get better. There are some good things out there, but we’ve got to get better.”

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