Sports, Football, Top Story

Eagles Roll Over Colgate in Shutout Opener

Trae Barry ran track in high school, but he never ran hurdles. From the look of it, though, you would never know. 

Just over four minutes into the second quarter of Boston College football’s season opener against Colgate, Barry raced down the sideline, evaded one tackle, and as Colgate cornerback Keshaun Dancy dove for his legs, Barry took to the air and into the endzone as if he was an Olympic hurdler to put BC up 14-0.

“I’ve never seen him do that in practice,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said in his postgame press conference. “I kind of hurdled with him because I was so excited.”

As if Barry’s acrobatic effort wasn’t indication enough of BC’s domination over an FCS opponent, the Eagles (1-0) flexed their muscles on both sides of the ball for a stunning 51-0 win over Colgate (0-1). The win marked the first time since 2009 that the Eagles have opened their season at home with a shutout. 

Plus, for the first time in almost two years, BC played in front of a home crowd. Hafley said that as he and the team walked from Gasson Hall to Alumni Stadium, campus was already swarming with students shouting his name. 

“To have energy in the stadium, to hear the fans, to have them there, it was awesome,” quarterback Phil Jurkovec said. 

Feeding off that energy was “Big Play Zay,” a moniker that receiver Zay Flowers earned after BC’s first game in 2020 against Duke. The receiver’s seven catches on nine targets went for 135 yards and a touchdown. On the first play of the game, Jurkovec hit Flowers on a bubble screen, and Flowers beat a man to the outside to take it 33 yards. Two plays later, he made three defenders miss and carried a pop pass for 17 yards. 

With Flowers’ explosive plays and a near-perfect showing from Jurkovec propelling the offense, BC took its first drive of 2021 to the house. Running back Travis Levy capped off the seven-play, 75-yard drive with his first score since 2019, trotting three yards into the endzone practically untouched. 

Contrary to what BC’s efficient first drive would predict, the first quarter was anything but smooth sailing. Just two drives—and no scores—later, BC took over at its own 25-yard line, still up just 7-0. True freshman Jaden Williams and redshirt junior Joey Luchetti had back-to-back drops on screen passes, and Jurkovec tossed his third-down shot into no-man’s land for a three-and-out. 

But after a disastrous drive, Grant Carlson’s ensuing 65-yard punt was the just the second and the last punt the sixth-year specialist would come on for. Every other BC drive ended in points for the Eagles. 

The slow first quarter melted away, as BC’s run game began to defrost, and Jurkovec settled in in the pocket. At halftime, BC had more than tripled its first-quarter lead, going up 27-0 at the break.

Colgate, on the other hand, punted a total of eight times, and the Raiders turned it over twice, both of which ended in points for the Eagles.

“If you go up 2-0 in the turnover column, you’re probably going to win 85, 87 percent of the time,” Hafley said. “When you get a turnover, it’s not enough just to get a turnover, you have to take the turnover and score, because now you’re stealing possessions.”

And stealing possessions is exactly what BC did. As the third quarter came to a close, Colgate drove 49 yards down the field in just nine plays for its most promising drive of the game. After spending the vast majority of the game in its own territory, Colgate knocked on the door for the very first time. Quarterback Grant Breneman didn’t knock loud enough, though, as a tipped ball in the endzone ended up in BC defensive back Mike Palmer’s hands. 

Eighty yards later, aided by a 41-yard keeper from Jurkovec, Pat Garwo trotted into the endzone. Just 17 seconds after Garwo’s score, following a 61-yard kickoff, Jahmin Muse made a house call after intercepting a pass from Brenemen, putting BC up 44-0. 

BC’s pass-catching depth can’t be overstated, as all three touchdowns through the air came from different receivers: one from Flowers, one from Barry, and one from true freshman Jaden Williams. All together, 11 different Eagles caught a pass to combine for 347 yards through the air. BC added 178 yards on the ground, led by Jurkovec with 61. 

“It really makes it easier on me,” Flowers said of having so many weapons in the pass game. “Because you can’t really just [defend] me. … We’ve got a lot of weapons that can make plays downfield, short route, medium route, [or] wherever you need the play to be made.”

Featured Image by Kristian Lamarre / Heights Staff

September 4, 2021