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Notebook: Garwo, Aggressive Play Calling Give Eagles Edge

Boston College football’s Week Four matchup with Missouri garnered national attention after Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz appeared to take a shot at the Eagles’ competition level during a press conference. In front of a nearly sold-out crowd in Chestnut Hill, BC took on its first SEC opponent at home since 1987, and it certainly lived up to the national expectations. A 56-yard Mizzou field goal sent the game to overtime, where BC receiver Zay Flowers gave BC the go-ahead score, and Brandon Sebastian sealed it with an interception in the end zone. After a back-and-forth battle for the ages, BC emerged with a 41–34 overtime win, marking its first 4–0 start since 2007. Here are five takeaways from BC’s biggest victory so far this season: 

Flowers Proves He’s “Good At Overtime”

Almost exactly one year ago, Flowers danced around Pitt’s defense for the go-ahead touchdown that handed the Eagles an overtime victory over Pittsburgh. 

“I’m pretty good at overtime,” Flowers said after that game.

Fast forward a year, and nothing seems to have changed. Now a junior, Flowers has plenty of experience under his belt, which puts him in the position to make clutch plays when BC coach Jeff Hafley and his team are under pressure. Starting from Mizzou’s 25-yard line in overtime, Flowers caught two passes: one, a four-yard grab to open the series, and another, a 10-yard touchdown to close it. Whether it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, or whether Flowers is simply cool under the most high-pressure situation in college football, the third-year wideout seems to have found the secret ingredient to overtime victories. 

The Garwo Show

Prior to the 2021 season, Pat Garwo III was a relative unknown. The redshirt sophomore had appeared in just 10 total games across his first two years at BC, totaling under 200 yards rushing in that span. In his first four games this season, Garwo has totaled 426 yards on the ground, good for an average of over 100 rush yards per game. After two touchdowns against Mizzou, his score total is up to four touchdowns. His first of the day came on BC’s third play of the game, as the third-year back dashed for 67 yards and a house call, breaking defenders nearly the entire way. He finished the game with a career-high 175 yards rushing, his second 100-yard game of the season. Although he contributed the majority of BC’s ground yardage, Garwo wasn’t alone in his contributions. The Eagles have seen a steady increase in run game success throughout the season, and Dennis Grosel, Alec Sinkfield, and Travis Levy combined for another 100 rush yards against Mizzou. The Tigers gave up more rush yards to Southeast Missouri State in a blowout win for Mizzou last week, but BC’s ground game, with Garwo at the helm, is very much still on the rise. 

Time Crunch

An infamous 2015 loss to Wake Forest by a final score of 3–0 is an all-too-familiar sight for BC fans. Poor clock management by former head coach Steve Addazio was the Eagles’ downfall not just in that loss six years ago, but it became a pattern over Addazio’s tenure. That pattern, however, appears to be a thing of the past with Hafley and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. running the show. The first quarter for BC consisted of short, efficient drives, including a two-minute, four-play, 98-yard scoring drive on the Eagles’ second possession of the game. 

When the fourth quarter rolled around, though, and the minutes began to wane, Hafley and Cignetti really began to flex their clock-managing muscles. Down by four points with 6:18 left on the clock, the Eagles strung together a run-heavy drive that ate up all but 25 seconds of the game clock. Levy capped off the drive with a five-yard scamper into the endzone, and freshman Connor Lytton added the extra point to put BC up by three with almost no time left on the clock. With 25 seconds left, BC had done all it could to eat up the clock, leaving Mizzou with next to no time to level the score. A 56-yard field goal as time expired sent the game to overtime, but Harrison Mevis’ last-minute kick was a credit to Mizzou’s offense and not a knock on BC’s clock management. 

Playing the Numbers Game

Hafley said in his weekly press conference this week that yardage doesn’t matter to him. What matters is who scores more points, and who comes out on top. The Eagles didn’t give up a touchdown of more than 10 yards all game long, but though BC came out on top against Mizzou, the Eagles’ defensive numbers are not to be glossed over. The Eagles gave up just 88 yards on the ground, but they conceded 303 yards through the air. Although BC outgained the Tigers by a total of 59 yards, the pass defense looked porous, a sign that does not bode well for the Eagles entering conference competition in a league full of pass-heavy teams. After a stifling defensive effort against Temple one week ago and a shutout against Colgate to open the season, BC has proven it can rely on its defense to control the pace and outcome of the game. But in that same defense’s biggest test of the year, it began to bend, giving way to the Eagles’ first overtime contest of the season. 

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

September 25, 2021