Stories of Welles Crowther, the Boston College alumnus credited with saving the lives of about a dozen people during the Sept. 11 attacks, have circled the Heights—and the nation—for upwards of two decades. More recently, though, came the introduction of the Red Bandanna Game, an annual tradition in which BC football dons special Red Bandanna uniforms in front of a home crowd, honoring the legacy of Crowther—known as “the man in the red bandanna.”
BC is set to take on Virginia Tech on Friday night in the 2021 Red Bandanna Game, and though the Eagles already debuted their Red Bandanna uniforms against UMass in honor of the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, the game has far from lost its significance. Take a look back at the annual tradition over the years, as well as how the Eagles have fared in their most meaningful game of each season.
Sept. 14, 2014: In the inaugural Red Bandanna Game, BC earned a program-defining victory on par with the Miracle in Miami. The Eagles took down No. 9 Southern California 37–31, marking BC’s most recent win over an AP Top 25 opponent as well as the Eagles’ first ranked win since beating No. 20 Florida State in 2008. BC quarterback Tyler Murphy rushed for 191 yards, including the game-winning score on a 66-yard run with 3:30 to play. BC outgained USC 452 to 20 on the ground in the win.
“The Red Bandanna Game meant a lot,” then-head coach Steve Addazio, with red bandanas hanging from each pocket, said in his postgame press conference. “We talked a lot about Welles Crowther. We talked a lot about who he was and what it takes to be a BC man. Our guys dug deep on this. This was a great win.”
As a caveat, BC was not actually the first school to honor Crowther at a BC football game. Instead, one day prior to the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, a home crowd at Central Florida honored the BC alumnus by wearing and waving red bandanas as UCF took on the Eagles.
Sept. 18, 2015: After the spectacle that was BC’s 2014 win over USC, the bar was so high it was practically suspended in the stratosphere, and anything but a last-minute miracle win would be a letdown. With 39,000 fans in attendance, the Eagles couldn’t repeat the successes of their predecessors in the Red Bandanna Game, and BC lost 14–0 to No. 9 Florida State. BC posted just 195 total yards, compared to Florida State’s 217, and only one of the Seminoles’ touchdowns came on offense. BC allowed a game-opening, 83-yard touchdown drive, and the only other score of the game came on a fumble recovery that Florida State took to the house. Injuries to lineman Frank Taylor and quarterback Darius Wade hindered an already struggling BC offense.
Oct. 7, 2016: BC’s 2016 Red Bandanna Game loss was equally painful as the year prior, but for different reasons. No. 3 Clemson throttled BC, and Michael Sullivan, Heights sports editor at the time, wrote, “[BC’s] dreams never came. Neither did the roar of the crowd. Well, not from those wearing bandannas, at least.”
Two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense totaled 499 yards, and BC lost 56–10, the most points BC had allowed to that point in the Addazio era. Heading into that game, BC’s defense had allowed an average of 202 yards per game, the lowest total in the country.
Oct. 27, 2017: After two straight years of heartbreak in the Red Bandanna Game, BC bounced back in a big way, beating FSU for the first time in eight years with a 35–3 rout. The win marked the largest margin of victory for BC over FSU in program history. AJ Dillon, then a freshman, rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown, and senior linebacker Ty Schwab recorded 12 tackles including 2.5 for loss.
“I’ll definitely remember this game, probably for the rest of my life,” Schwab said after the game.
Oct. 26, 2018: The Eagles earned a second straight Red Bandanna win, taking down Miami 27–14 thanks to some aggressive play calling. Double moves and trick plays abounded for offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. BC went for 223 yards on the ground and 210 through the air, while the Eagles’ defense held Miami to 305 total yards. Dillon returned from an ankle injury to rush for 149 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Nov. 9, 2019: BC dropped its second game in two years to Florida State in the 2019 iteration of the Red Bandanna Game. With quarterback Anthony Brown out due to injury, Dennis Grosel threw for 227 yards on 20-for-29 passing, tossing one interception and no scores. Dillon became the first player in BC history to surpass 4,000 career yards with his 19th career 100-yard game. BC trailed 24–14 entering the fourth quarter, and Aaron Boumerhi tied the game with a field goal, but the Seminoles scored twice in a matter of 45 seconds to lead 34–28, and BC couldn’t complete its comeback bid.
Nov. 14, 2020: With no fans in the stadium, BC still donned its Red Bandanna uniforms to take on No. 2 Notre Dame. The parallels to a 1993 miracle, in which the then-No. 12 Eagles beat Notre Dame one week after the Irish had toppled the No. 1 team in the country, lined up for BC, and Phil Jurkovec looked to get his revenge on his former team. But without a true home-field advantage, the Eagles collapsed under Notre Dame’s pressure, resulting in a 45–31 loss for the Eagles.
“It was a game circled on the schedule,” Jurkovec said in the postgame press conference. “To be able to play against all my former teammates, it was a special game. It’s very disappointing to lose it.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff