Football, Top Story

Savoy, Hokies Extend BC’s ACC Skid Under the Lights

On Virginia Tech’s second drive of the night, star receiver Cam Phillips limped off the field, leaving his freshman quarterback, Josh Jackson, to navigate Boston College’s feared secondary without his top target. Before Phillips could even settle in on the bench, though, he turned and watch a freshman fill his shoes with ease.

Sean Savoy set the tone with a 53-yard catch and run—the highlight of his nine-catch, 139-yard evening—and the Hokies didn’t look back, coasting to a 23-10 victory under the lights at Alumni Stadium that was never as close as the scoreboard suggests.

BC (2-4, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t cash in on an early gift, when Zach Allen tipped Jackson’s pass into the arms of Isaac Yiadom, who returned it to the Hokies’ 23-yard line. The Eagles tried to keep momentum on their side and took a shot to the end zone on the next play, but Tommy Sweeney couldn’t haul in a ball from Anthony Brown that was slightly underthrown.

The next two plays produced a mere two yards, and they were forced to settle for a field goal. Colton Lichtenberg, who made his first six kicks to start the year, missed his fourth consecutive attempt, this time from 40 yards out.

He’d have a shot at redemption, but not before Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-1) got on the board first. Jackson began the drive with an 11-yard pass to Phillips, but he came up hobbled after the tackle and never returned. Entering Saturday, Phillips’ 597 receiving yards and five touchdowns ranked third and eighth in the country, respectively.

Jackson didn’t seem to notice the absence of his top wideout, though. The redshirt freshman found his running back, Travon McMillian, for a 13-yard gain to move the chains. Then he fired a dart across the middle, where Savoy broke a tackle for the huge score.

On the next drive, BC answered thanks to Jon Hilliman and a pair of Hokie penalties. The redshirt junior back hauled in a short pass and sprinted 22 yards down the sideline, and a late hit on Hilliman added an extra 15 yards to the play. Soon after, Michael Walker drew a pass interference call, pushing the Eagles into field goal range. There, Lichtenberg snapped his streak of missed field goals with a 32-yarder to cut the deficit to 7-3.

But Jackson continued to feast on BC’s pass defense, which ranked 12th in the nation before Saturday’s effort. With Phillips still sidelined with an injury, Virginia Tech picked up 48 yards through the air before the Eagles made a goal-line stand and forced a field goal. On their next possession, the Hokies marched down the field again, peppering BC’s zone defense with slants over the middle. McMillian finished off the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run to push Tech’s lead to two possessions.

A major turning point for the Eagles came late in the second quarter. Brown got things going with his feet, scampering for 16 yards and a first down. A couple plays later, he lofted a 32-yard pass deep to Kobay White, who came down with the jump ball in Hokies territory. A trio of rushes brought up fourth-and-two, and Addazio opted to go for it in field goal range. Brown rolled out to his left, where he was immediately met by a corner blitz and, consequently, missed an open receiver near the first-down marker.

At halftime, BC entered the locker room staring at a 17-3 hole despite out-rushing VT, 89-76. The deficit was made all the more frustrating by missed opportunities in Hokie territory.

What few fans remained after halftime witnessed one of the worst offensive quarters yet for the Eagles this year. Bud Foster’s signature defense forced five straight three-and-outs to start the second half. Brown and his receivers looked out of sync. Meanwhile, Joey Slye made it 23-3 with two more field goals, in the process becoming Tech’s all-time leading scorer.

BC’s offense showed signs of life in the fourth quarter, albeit in part due to the prevent defense it was facing. The Eagles pieced together three consecutive 20+ yard plays—first, a Thadd Smith run, then a pass to Tommy Sweeney, and finally a trick-play toss from Jeff Smith back to Brown himself. Somewhere out there, Patrick Towles was beaming with pride.

But it was too little, too late. Once again, the Eagles spoiled an inspired defensive performance with dismal offensive play. Harold Landry tied a career high with three sacks, though he left with a right ankle injury. And Allen matched his play with three tackles for loss and a tipped pass that led to a pick. Ty Schwab contained the Hokies’ run game, which managed just 109 yards, with eight tackles and a sack.

Brown wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t better than his freshman counterpart, Jackson. At times, he looked elusive in the pocket, posting his best rushing numbers of his career (seven carries for 51 yards). In four games against Power Five teams, the Eagles have mustered a mere five touchdowns. And in Addazio’s last 19 ACC games, BC has managed just 10.6 points per game.  

But 10 points isn’t going to cut it, especially in this conference, and BC has yet to surpass that mark thus far in conference play.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

October 7, 2017