Football, Top Story

The Curse Is Over: Football Snaps 12-Game ACC Losing Streak

RALEIGH, N.C. — Patrick Towles took a step back and handed the ball to running back Davon Jones.

Jones appeared to eye a run to the right. Instead, he lofted a pass into the end zone.

Tommy Sweeney, unbothered by North Carolina State University defenders, gathered the ball in for an easy touchdown. Seconds later, Towles tossed a pass across the field to Sweeney again to successfully complete the two-point conversion.

Steve Addazio screamed on the BC sideline while his team erupted. He pounded his chest and put his hands in the air, ripping off his headset and running around everywhere looking. A trick play when you least expect it? You bet.

“We had worked on it all week long,” Addazio said. He had confidence in Jones to find Sweeney in the end zone. Jones knew that if the pass wasn’t there, he shouldn’t force it.

Luckily for BC, the pass was there. It was gift-wrapped and handed to the Eagles: a very early Christmas present from their opponents down south.

Boston College football never makes it easy, as everyone knows by now. Bolstered by a huge kickoff return, the Wolfpack quickly drove down the field, setting up a first-and-10 at the 2 yard line.

Kamrin Moore had different plans. He intercepted quarterback Ryan Finley in the back corner of the end zone.

What was going through Moore’s mind in the seconds immediately after the interception?

“Game over.”

At long last, the pain is over. The curse has ended. The Eagles are free.

With sunny skies, a comfortable breeze, and a temperature of 68 degrees, these were much nicer conditions than you can find in Boston this time of year. And the Eagles played much better than the team fans have seen in Chestnut Hill for the past couple of weeks and even years. The proof is in the pudding. On this beautiful, sunny day in Raleigh, BC broke the 12-game ACC curse that has plagued it since the start of the last season. On this beautiful, sunny day in Raleigh, BC defeated North Carolina State—an ACC team—by a score of 21-14. It is the first ACC win for the Eagles since Nov. 29, 2014, a 28-7 victory over Syracuse.

The first quarter was sloppy for both teams. BC (4-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast) received the opening kickoff, but failed to do anything with its first drive. After a 27-yard rush along the right side for Myles Willis, the offense stalled when Patrick Towles had a pass deflected and then Charlie Callinan couldn’t hold on to another pass.

On the first possession for NC State (4-4, 1-3), the BC defense made a sloppy mistake and helped the Wolfpack move down the field. Quarterback Ryan Finley found Bra’Lon Cherry for 17 yards and a first down, and the defense gifted the Pack with another 15 yards because of a facemask. After the penalty, the defense toughened up and stopped the Pack short of the endzone, resulting in another punt.

Throughout the first quarter, neither team could build up enough momentum to see results in the endzone. Towles tossed the ball to Davon Jones, who spun around a defender and managed to stay on his feet despite being off-balance. He eluded a couple more defenders before being brought down—and fumbling in the process. NC State recovered the ball, ruining the impressive play and stopping BC short.

At the end of the quarter, BC put an impressive drive together. Towles connected with Sweeney for 21 yards, then Jeff Smith for seven and another first down. A trick play saw Smith, the former quarterback, attempt a pass downfield. The pass was incomplete, but a questionable roughing the passer call gifted BC with 15 yards and a fresh set of downs anyway.

The drive brought the Eagles all the way to the NC State 7-yard line, but there the offense stalled once again. For the very first play of the second quarter, Towles overthrew Smith in the endzone and the offense was whistled for both holding and ineligible receiver downfield. Out came Mike Knoll to attempt a field goal. His attempt was good, and it gave BC a 3-0 lead mere seconds into the second quarter.

The lead would not last long for the Eagles. On third down, deep in his own territory, Finley found Cherry cutting across the field towards the right sideline. After he caught the ball, Cherry put on wheels to outrun the BC defense to the end zone. The play was good for 79 yards and gave NC State a 7-3 lead.

Smith, not to be outdone by Cherry, put on his own display of speed a few minutes later. He received the handoff and took off downfield, taking it 60 yards to the house and recapturing the lead for the Eagles. His touchdown run completely silenced the once-rowdy NC State fans, who were stunned at the speed and agility of Smith, one of BC’s biggest offensive threats.

BC had one more chance to put points on the board in the half when Knoll attempted another field goal. The Wolfpack defense came up big, though, with a blocked field goal, and so the Eagles only carried a 10-7 lead into halftime. It was the first time since Nov. 29, 2014 against Syracuse, that BC held a halftime lead against a conference opponent. Nov. 29, 2014, was also the last time BC won against a conference opponent.

BC opened the second half with a huge play. Finley, sensing pressure from his left, tried to move to his right, looking downfield for an open receiver. But Harold Landry was ready and waiting for him. Landry took him down, pinning Finley against the turf. The ball popped out and Zach Allen fell onto it, giving BC possession deep in NC State territory.

The turnover, however, didn’t turn into a touchdown for the Eagles. BC just couldn’t find the endzone despite having excellent field position, resulting in yet another field goal for Knoll. Early in the third quarter, BC held a 13-7 lead—but it could have been 17-7, or even 20-7 if NC State hadn’t blocked the field goal.

With such a tight game going on, tensions were high. Both quarterbacks made questionable decisions that turned into huge mistakes. Finley took a shot downfield, but his receiver bobbled the ball. Before it hit the turf, Ty Schwab secured the ball, giving BC a crucial interception and halting a promising NC State drive.

What did the Eagles do with the ball next? Well, under pressure, Towles attempted to find Michael Walker, but it was an ill-advised throw and resulted in a Wolfpack interception. NC State now held the ball at the BC 23-yard line, giving it excellent field position.

The Wolfpack took advantage of the field position. Finley connected with Harmon for a touchdown initially dismissed and then, upon review, accepted. NC State was up 14-13 and held all of the momentum. It looked like the Wolfpack would escape a close game with the win.

Nobody told that to BC. The Eagles drove down the field, culminating in the touchdown pass from Jones to Sweeney and then the conversion from Towles to Sweeney. The gutsy move gave BC a 21-14 lead with just a few minutes remaining.

It wouldn’t be BC football without the Eagles making it unnecessarily stressful for themselves, however. The Wolfpack marched down the field and it looked like it might score a game-tying touchdown. Then Moore had his game-preserving touchdown in the back of the end zone.

Time expired. BC still held the lead.

“To win this game, it took something from everyone,” Addazio said. “We have a collection of guys who are battling every day.”

Fans decked out in red left Carter-Finley Stadium with somber faces. They were in utter disbelief. “I can’t believe they got that last touchdown,” one said sadly.

Believe it.

The curse is broken. The Eagles are free.

Featured Image by Savanna Kiefer / Heights Editor

October 29, 2016