The Boston College football team controlled the game, until suddenly it didn’t—and then it was over. With only a minute left on Saturday, Colorado State took its first and only lead with Garrett Grayson’s 12-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Charles Lovett—good enough to steal a 24-21 comeback win and leave the Eagles dejected and devastated heading into their bye week.
“Colorado State made a play they needed to make to win the game,” said BC head coach Steve Addazio. “The game was what it was, which was a tight game, and we’ve gotta learn how to close those games out. We had a chance to close the game out, we didn’t close the game out. It’s as simple as that. A very, very disappointing loss, and a tough loss.”
In the first half, CSU played right into BC’s hands. Grayson threw two brutal first-quarter picks, squandering chances to take the first lead of the game over the pass-challenged Eagles. The Rams’ pass rushers didn’t keep their rush lanes, allowing Murphy to scamper out of the pocket twice in the red zone on third down—setting up Jon Hilliman for a touchdown and then scoring one of his own.
Grayson and the Rams’ offense pulled it together at the end of the first half, finding Rashard Higgins for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:31 left in the second quarter, making it 14-7. Higgins was completely open on a crossing pattern in the middle of the field, foreshadowing BC’s poor second half execution.
CSU tied it on the second half’s opening drive, and BC took back the lead on its ensuing possession. Grayson, picking up his play as the game progressed, sliced back down the field for a field goal, avoiding the pass rush and exploiting the underneath areas that the Eagles’ defense was giving up.
BC linebacker Steven Daniels said that the Rams didn’t do anything special in the second half, and CSU head coach Jim McElwain corroborated that.
“Part of it was [the BC defense], but a lot of it was us maintaining our assignments,” McElwain said.
The Eagles’ defense wilted after spending well over 50 percent of the second half on the field. Addazio refused to give his defense room for excuses: they were on the field because they didn’t stop anybody.
“Any time a team drives the length of the field on you three times in a row, you’re gonna be on the field,” Addazio said. “That’s what happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. Get off the field.”
After CSU’s field goal, the BC offense had a chance to make its defense moot. On second down with 11 minutes left at the CSU 28, Murphy avoided the rush like he did all afternoon, choosing to throw instead. His receiver, Charlie Callinan, fell down as Murphy let his pass go, and the Rams’ DB looked more like Murphy’s intended target by the time the ball reached him.
“We got a little penetration so I tried to make a play, and in that situation, I just have to throw the ball away. I’m not really sure what happened,” Murphy said. “I can’t force that in. It was a big mistake and it ended up costing us, so I have to learn from it: in the red zone, throw the ball away.”
“It’s just a crying shame that we threw a pick there at the end,” Addazio said.
CSU managed to flip the field but BC held up on fourth down at their own 38. A three and out forced the defense back on the field. Eagles’ punter Alex Howell pinned the Rams at their own 10. Higgins brought the Rams out of the shadow of their end zone before Hart, an Alabama transfer, broke off runs for 14 and then 43 yards.
“No matter what happens on the offensive side of the ball, we have to be there to respond,” Daniels said regarding quick turnaround after the three and out. “It was our chance and we didn’t get it done.”
The Eagles had enough energy left to dig in at their own 12 yard line, and needed one stop. On fourth down, Grayson looked left, rolled back right, and was as surprised as anyone that Lovett, his fifth option on the play, was abandoned in the back right corner of the end zone.
“In practice, I’ve never got the ball [on that play],” Lovett said.
Asked if losing before the bye week is the toughest thing about the loss, Addazio said no.
“It’s just the way we lost it,” he said. “We had a chance to end the game, fourth and twelve. End the game. It’s over. And turning the ball over when we had a chance to seal it out on the other end. That’s what’s going to be hard about this game … when you let these games get away, they’re gone forever.”
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor