Sports, Football, Top Story

Missed Chances Haunt Addazio, BC in Three-Point Loss to Wake Forest

With 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest, Boston College football kicker Aaron Boumerhi lined up for a 44-yard, game-tying field goal. The hold was good and his ensuing kick was right through the uprights. A flag flew, however, and it was a five-yard delay of game penalty on the Eagles. 

The ensuing attempt from 48 yards? Boumerhi didn’t even get a foot on it. The snap was botched, and holder Dennis Grosel’s last-ditch effort to scramble and find tight end Danny Dalton downfield was batted down by the Demon Deacons. 

Those three points that the Eagles badly needed came back to haunt them. After the two teams swapped punts, Wake Forest marched downfield for a touchdown, and while BC had an answer with a halfback pass that resulted in six, it went on to suffer a disappointing 27-24 setback in front of a strong Parents Weekend crowd.

The Demon Deacons (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) converted 17-of-24 third down attempts, a prolific 70.8 percent clip that allowed for lengthy drives that chewed up clock—especially in the final few minutes with a slim lead. And, while the penalty and botched snap stood out the most, BC (3-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) also went for it on 4th-and-3 from the Wake Forest 21-yard line in the third quarter instead of kicking of a 38-yard field goal, and quarterback Anthony Brown promptly threw an interception.

“[There were] two scoring opportunities in that game, one on a fourth down call and then of course our inability to kick a field goal,” head coach Steve Addazio said. “They were two scoring opportunities in a tight game like this where even though all of our rushing, throwing statistics were superior, we lost out on those scoring opportunities.”

Running back AJ Dillon ran for 159 yards on 23 carries, and Brown finished 21-of-29 for 268 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions.The Eagles racked up 536 yards of offense, but it was the Demon Deacons offense—which ran 87 plays—that managed 11 more minutes of possession and fought off a comeback.

The Eagles didn’t get off to the best start, as Brown was picked off by Wake Forest cornerback Amari Henderson on the first drive of the game. That interception—the first from Brown in 102 pass attempts this season—set up a methodical Demon Deacons drive. They went 57 yards in 11 plays, taking a 7-0 lead on a physical five-yard run from Cade Carney.

The offensive struggles continued on the next drive, as consecutive screen passes totaled negative yardage for Brown and BC, resulting in a punt. The Demon Deacons added to their lead with a 22-yard field goal from Nick Sciba, but the Eagles showed the first signs of resilience. Wake Forest ran Carney twice from near the goal line to no avail, then quarterback Jamie Newman was stood up on 3rd-and-Goal.

BC parlayed that into a drive that featured its first points of the game, with Dillon rumbling 33 yards on the first play. Zay Flowers added an 18-yard sweep, and eventually, Boumerhi buried a 22-yard field goal. The offensive momentum carried over to the other side of the ball, as the Eagles forced a punt. Six plays and 85 yards later, BC had tied it up at 10 apiece. David Bailey featured prominently, running for 25 yards and catching an 11-yard pass out of the backfield, but it was Flowers who hauled in a 26-yard touchdown after a well-executed play-action pass. 

After the teams traded punts, Wake Forest retook the lead after a pair of big third-down conversions. First, Newman took a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-1 and found a massive seam, sprinting for a 50-yard run. Then, on 3rd-and-6, he found Kendall Hinton for a nine-yard reception that kept the drive alive. Three plays later, Sage Surratt, standing an imposing 6-foot-3, withstood a defensive pass interference call on BC’s Brandon Sebastian to haul in a one-handed touchdown.

The Demon Deacons were unable to take the lead into the break, though, as the Eagles bounced right back. BC engineered a nine-play, 48-yard drive punctuated by a four-yard touchdown grab from Bailey on a shovel pass from Brown—who had converted a 4th-and-1 with a keeper earlier in the drive. 

The offensive fireworks were limited in the second half, though. After BC’s first drive ended in the disappointing interception from Brown on 4th-and-3, Wake Forest took over and plodded down the field. It went on a program-record 20-play drive that covered 78 yards, and eventually settled for a 22-yard field goal after eating up nearly seven minutes of game clock. When BC’s offense went on to punt after just two minutes, there was worry that the Demon Deacons—holding a slim 20-17 lead—would have a chance to put it away. Instead, Newman overthrew his receiver and Eagles free safety Mike Palmer came up with a diving interception.

It didn’t translate to points, though, as BC left three on the board with the botched field goal snap after the costly penalty.

“We didn’t execute the field goal and that’s inexcusable,” he said. “I saw the clock ticking down and was going to call a timeout, but I thought we were still going to get it off in time and I didn’t want to lose a timeout.

“I was trying not to burn it, and it was hair-close. Obviously, we lost that decision by half a second.”

Regardless, the six points left on the board would prove costly. Newman found Scotty Washington for a 27-yard touchdown that stretched the Demon Deacons’ lead to 10 with 9:47 remaining, and the Eagles were forced to play catch-up. They found an answer, churning forward with nine straight runs before a trick play—Bailey took a handoff and then threw a halfback pass to Jake Burt in the corner of the end zone—but the defense couldn’t come up with a stop on the ensuing drive until it was way too late.

Even with BC using all three of its timeouts, Wake Forest went on a 12-play drive, converting a trio of third downs before finally punting. Punter Dom Maggio, who averaged 46.2 yards per punt and landed three inside the 20, saw his effort downed at the five-yard line with 28 seconds to go. The Eagles, without timeouts, eventually resorted to a lateral play, but Brown fumbled it out of bounds around midfield to end the game.

“This was two good teams fighting each other and it came down to a thin margin,” Addazio said. “The thin margin in the end was three points. It’s a hard deal.”

The three-point margin of defeat makes it easy to pin just where it went wrong. The Eagles had almost 100 more yards than their visitors—who were also held to 27 points despite entering as the 10th-best offense—but still lost because of two questionable decisions while in field goal range. It wasn’t the same as when Addazio’s team failed to get off a game-tying field goal attempt against Wake Forest in 2015, but watching the botched snap sure harkened back to that dismal day.

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor

September 28, 2019