No tackling. Quarterbacks can’t be sacked. Punts with zero pressure. Head coach Jeff Hafley crouching 10 yards behind the offense every play while standing on the field.
It seems like the NFL Pro Bowl, but it’s Boston College football’s annual Jay McGillis Spring Game.
“We ran like three or four offensive plays today,” Hafley said in his postgame press conference, alluding to the game’s relaxed tone. “The biggest takeaway is you have to teach those young guys that [the reason] you make practice harder than the game is so when you go out there, you can play confident and let it go.”
BC’s roster was divided into Team Boston and Team Eagles. Phil Jurkovec led Team Boston, while backup quarterback Emmett Morehead led Team Eagles with Alec Sinkfield at running back.
BC named senior Jaiden Woodbey the recipient of the Jay McGillis Scholarship, given to the defensive back that best exemplifies the qualities of team leadership and dedication. Woodbey, a 6-foot defensive back, recorded 55 tackles and two interceptions last season, his first year on the Heights after spending three years at Florida State.
“I feel like this is such a great honor just for the simple fact that I didn’t start my career at BC,” Woodbey said. “So for me to come here and just get the trust and the development from the coaches and for them to reward me, you know, it’s amazing.”
The first half featured a scrimmage style of play, while the second half featured a running, 35-minute clock with a more situational style of play. In the second half, reserve quarterbacks Jack Brandon, Matthew Rueve, and Daelen Menard switched in, and Team Boston earned a 22–10 victory.
But in a game that was less about the score and more about giving younger players an opportunity to showcase their talents, many Eagles did just that. Brandon hit redshirt freshman Luke McLaughlin for two consecutive catches in the second half, and the second resulted in a touchdown. He finished with four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, junior Brandon Summers stood out and picked off Menard for 46 yards, creating an eruption of joy from the Eagles’ sideline as players mobbed Summers on the field.
“If you noticed how excited our guys got for [Brandon, McLaughlin, and Summers], that’s what I take away—how much this team cares about each other and enjoys each other,” Hafley said. “Not just for the superstars but for the guys who show up that none of you even know but make plays.”
Jurkovec played the entire first half for Team Boston. His biggest play came on a 47-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman running back Xavier Coleman. Jurkovec, under pressure, rolled out and threw the ball across his body to a wide-open Coleman.
“It’s a little bit different but similar concepts from what I’ve learned in the past,” Jurkovec said.
For Christian Mahogany, the only remaining starter from last season’s offensive line, the new system is a struggle, but it’s something the Eagles will learn to adapt to.
“There’s a lot of growing pains,” Mahogany said. “But I’m up for that challenge. I’ve learned from three offensive line coaches in my time here, and they all have different views. I just take a little piece from everyone. … I think by the fall, it’s going to be just routine stuff.”
The new system did not stop Mahogany from scoring a touchdown, though, as the 335-pounder took a direct snap on a first-and-goal in the first half and pushed his way into the end zone. He and his teammates celebrated the score by acting out a keg stand in the endzone.
Hafley emphasized that his players need time to relax ahead of the fall season. BC will work out for about two weeks after Easter Break before taking May off to focus on finals and decompress, Hafley said.
But for Hafley, letting his players take a break doesn’t mean the work stops.
“I need to go back and watch the film for the offense, defense, and special teams,” Hafley said. “I need to get out, see some alumni, do some events that I’ve yet to be able to do in person that I’m excited about doing. So there’s always work to do.”