Thrown For A Loss
Published: Sunday, November 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Boston College nearly stole a win from Notre Dame in Saturday's 16-14 loss to the Fighting Irish in South Bend.
Nearly doesn't count, though, even for a 3-8 team looking to latch onto positives. There are no moral victories when the program officially notched the most losses it has had in a season since 1995.
"We had chances," said head coach Frank Spaziani, who is winless in three games against BC's biggest rival. "We needed a couple heroes to step up and make some plays. That's the difference when you're playing a good football team."
The Fighting Irish had the heroes on the night, as Jonas Gray scampered for a 26-yard score in the first quarter, and David Ruffer converted all three of his field goal attempts. Tommy Rees went 24-of-39 for 256 yards and an interception, Michael Floyd had 10 catches for 92 yards, and Manti Te'o had 12 tackles for Notre Dame (8-3).
Chase Rettig (18-for-38, 170 yards, one touchdown), Bobby Swigert (five catches, 39 yards, one touchdown), and Luke Kuechly (14 tackles) led the way for BC, which failed to recover from a 10-0 deficit midway through the first quarter. Josh Bordner scored on a two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, once the Irish had taken a 10-point lead. Rettig connected with Swigert for a seven-yard score with two minutes left in the game, but the Eagles ran out of time when they failed to recover the subsequent onside kick.
"We got trapped in the ‘go-back-and-throw' game," Spaziani said. "It's not us. It makes it more difficult to complete passes under those circumstances."
At the end of the first half, that passing game looked the best it has all season. On the drive, Rettig went 5-for-6 for 77 yards, with the lone incompletion coming on a laser that slipped right through Colin Larmond, Jr.'s hands. The sophomore quarterback picked his spots well, attacking short-to-intermediate routes with the same confidence he displayed during the preseason.
"It was the first time I felt like we were just throwing the ball around," Rettig said. "The coaches gave me the opportunity to throw the ball and the receivers to make plays. We just executed."
But Notre Dame adjusted at halftime by keying on the underneath routes and going to man-to-man coverage on third downs. The Fighting Irish also dialed up a variety of blitz packages. They disrupted Rettig's rhythm by constantly getting a hand in his face. At one point in the middle of the second half, Rettig threw 10 straight incompletions.
"They started blitzing a lot more, which I knew they were going to do from watching film because it was a close game," Rettig said. "It hurt us. They mixed it up pretty well. There's no reason why every drive can't be like the last drive of the first half."
Rettig did engineer one second-half drive similar to the one end of the first half. The offensive line gave him enough time to find the hot receiver on blitzes. He went 3-for-5 for 45 yards on that series because he exploited single coverage in the Notre Dame secondary. The seven-play, 72-yard drive culminated in the touchdown pass to Swigert.
"We ran that play with Colin [Larmond, Jr.] last week and scored, so we mixed it up, with me inside and him out," Swigert said. "I ran a corner route, and the safety was really tight on me. Chase hit me. I actually almost lost it in the lights."
Still, it was too little, too late for the Eagles, who are playing better, but not well enough to beat teams like the Irish.
"We know who we are, what we have, and how we have to play," Spaziani said. "That's how we start every week. Our guys played well. We had a good game plan, but we needed to make a couple plays."