Sports, Football, Top Story

Eagles Eke Out Overtime Win In Instant Classic With Missouri

After Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz’s comments that the Tigers should stay away from future New England entanglements, as the program tends not to recruit players from Massachusetts, his words returned to haunt him, as a group of Eagles from the Northeast wrote the Tigers’ downfall.

First, it was tight end Joey Luchetti, a product of Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., who made a key grab on the Eagles’ six-minute scoring drive to put BC ahead by three with just 25 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Then, it was Brandon Sebastian, coming from the even less heralded football hotbed of Connecticut, who sealed the game, picking off an ill-advised deep shot from Mizzou quarterback Connor Bazelak on the Tigers’ first overtime play to give BC (4–0) a 41–34 win over SEC opponent Mizzou (2–2). Add in the success of BC’s offensive line, led by central Massachusetts product Alec Lindstrom at center, and Northeast products carried BC to its first 4–0 start since 2007. 

“It was a great day for the state of Massachusetts,” Hafley said with a smile in his post-game press conference.

Alumni Stadium exploded in cheers as Sebastian fell to the ground with his arms wrapped tightly around Bazelak’s bold attempt to send the game to a second overtime, and students fled from the stands alongside Family Weekend visitors to storm the field. A near-full crowd enveloped Alumni Stadium, and students rushed the field for the first time since beating Miami in the 2018 Red Bandanna Game.

The semblance between that win over the Hurricanes and BC’s thriller over Mizzou extended even beyond the field-storming manner of victory and magnitude of the opponent. 

BC fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a copy of the Steve Addazio–esque offense that took down the Hurricanes and plowed its way into the middle tier of the top-25 in 2018.

With a backup-turned-starting signal-caller in the backfield, the Eagles returned to the ground-and-pound era of AJ Dillon, racking up nearly 300 yards on the ground at a sharp 5.6 yards per clip against Mizzou.

Time and time again, the Eagles lined up with the clear intent to run the ball up the gut and proceeded to do just that. BC threw the play-action deep shots to the wayside and replaced its past offense with a similarly styled, but more efficient, steady dismantling of the Mizzou front seven.

Lindstrom and BC’s experienced O-line led the way for a career game for Pat Garwo III and the rest of BC’s running back corps.

“I almost cried after the game because I was so proud of everybody on the offensive line,” Lindstrom said.

Down 31–27 after Mizzou steadily chipped through BC’s defense to take the lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Eagles embarked on a campaign for paydirt, draining six minutes off the clock as they marched 60 yards in 15 plays. 

BC’s three-headed monster in the backfield—Garwo, Travis Levy, and Alec Sinkfield—gashed the Tigers’ line for gain after gain, culminating in Levy’s five-yard slice up the gut for the go-ahead touchdown.

Garwo bore the brunt of the workload on the day and continued to show why he has positioned himself at the top of the stable of backs, putting up 175 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns.

The late score appeared to give the Eagles the win, but Bazelak rattled off a quick trio of completions to put Mizzou into the edge of field goal range, and kicker Harrison Mevis knocked in a 56-yard boot to tie the game as time expired. 

The kick was the longest of Mevis’ career and tied for the longest in the nation this season.

While the rush game pushed the Eagles into overtime, quarterback Dennis Grosel showed the highs he can get to in overtime, rolling out to his right on 2nd-and-goal and tossing a strike across to his body to Flowers in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. 

“He’s like a dog with a frisbee,” Grosel said about Flowers. “You throw it up there and he goes and gets it.”

Grosel’s 18-of-29 performance for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns was much-needed redemption for the signal-caller after his historically dreadful 37-yard showing one week ago against Temple. The Eagles accounted for Grosel’s developing arm by largely ignoring shots to the sideline and scheming receivers open on crossing routes over the middle.

As usual, Flowers and CJ Lewis were the main beneficiaries of the BC passing attack, notching 62 yards and 52 yards, respectively. Jaelen Gill also factored in with a pair of catches as he returned to the field after missing the Eagles’ first three games due to injury. 

Missouri took a 7–0 lead on its first possession, as a running into the kicker penalty on Elijah Jones gave the Tigers another set of downs within BC territory, and Bazelak finished the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Barrett Banister.

Though the BC defensive line held Mizzou to under four yards per carry, it struggled to put pressure on Bazelak, and he was largely comfortable in the pocket, passing for over 300 yards. 

Mizzou intercepted Grosel’s first pass of the game, but the BC defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the Eagles converted on offense with a 67-yard rush from Garwo.

The two teams traded blows to enter halftime tied at 17, and the Tigers’ late charge wiped out BC’s third-quarter push to gain a 10-point lead.

“If you look at last year, we were in these games and we lost,” Hafley said. “We had a chance to beat Clemson and we didn’t. Today was one of those games where I felt this team took a big step, and they believe in each other.”

Featured Image by Leo Wang / Heights Staff

September 26, 2021