Boston College football knows what it feels like to lose, having dropped two of its first three games this season. But the magnitude of the loss that BC suffered against Florida State Saturday night in Tallahassee was an entirely new feeling for the Eagles.
Not much went right for the Eagles (1–3, 0–2 Atlantic Coast) who struggled on all levels in their 44–14 loss to Florida State (4–0, 2–0) in front of a sold-out, 79,560-person crowd. The game marked BC’s second largest loss during head coach Jeff Hafley’s career on the Heights, the first being last years 31 point loss against Wake Forest.
“We didn’t coach good enough,” Hafley said. “We didn’t play good enough. We didn’t tackle good enough.”
In a nightmare first two minutes for BC, the Seminoles exploited a banged-up BC team. Florida State’s Trey Benson took the Eagles’ opening kickoff 93 yards to the house after BC elected to defer.
“You can never kick the ball down the middle of the field,” Hafley said about Danny Longman’s kickoff. “It started with the kick, and guys getting off blocks and then guys missing tackles. So we got to take a look at who’s on that team [special teams] and who’s capable of playing well on that team.”
Florida State then picked off quarterback Phil Jurkovec on BC’s first drive—reminiscent of his first drive interception against Virginia Tech in Week Two—on a pass intended for Zay Flowers. The throw was behind Flowers, who tipped the ball into the hands of FSU’s Omarion Cooper.
Jurkovec threw two interceptions on the night while totaling just 105 yards and one touchdown on 15-for-23 passing. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket all game and struggled to connect with anyone but Flowers, who finished with 45 yards on seven receptions.
Flowers, wide reciever Dino Tomlin, and running back Pat Garwo III were the only players to have two or more catches for BC. Tomlin and Garwo had two each.
The Eagles looked like they could get the ball back after stopping Florida State on three straight plays on its first offensive drive, but the Seminoles decided to go for it on fourth-and-9. Florida State converted, got within one yard of a touchdown, and proceeded to score one play later on a Lawrance Toafili rush to make it 14–0.
“You can’t get away from your game plan that soon after being down 14,” Hafley said. “You can fight your way back. But you have to be able to handle that as a player … and a coach, and you can’t let it rattle you and can’t let it change who you are. … That’s what we need to learn to do better. Right now we’re not good when we go down.”
The Seminoles quickly got the ball back, going on a 10-play drive that ended with a 15-yard Benson rushing touchdown, his second of the day.
BC had plenty of opportunities to stop the bleeding but could never finish the play. The Eagles almost sacked Jordan Travis near the end of the first quarter, but the Eagles couldn’t bring him down. The Seminoles kicked a 30-yard field goal, capping off a first quarter in which FSU totaled 184 yards to BC’s 17.
“I believe our team was ready to play,” Hafley said. “I believe that we’re ready to start fast. We had a great walk through this morning. So it’s a matter of execution.”
Continual bad decisions from the defense, including not being able to contain the quarterback and unnecessary penalties, gave the Seminoles free first downs throughout the game. BC’s run defense had some nice plays early, doing its best to give BC’s offense a chance, but the Seminoles finished the game with 180 rushing yards.
The Eagles’ run game couldn’t get anything going, averaging 2.8 yards per carry for 95 yards.
“We could do better running the ball as a running back room,” said Garwo, who finished with nine rushes for 41 yards. “We could do better pitching and catching as a whole. You just got to play better at the end of the day and be more focused so we can continue moving the chains.”
Vinny DePalma—who led all players with 11 tackles—got a stop on fourth down, giving the Eagles the ball back, but a holding penalty hurt the Eagles. The flag brought back a Jurkovec rush that would have resulted in a first down, ending any hope the Eagles had of scoring before halftime.
Flowers was the only BC wide receiver to register a catch in the first half.
A Jurkovec overthrow to a wide-open Flowers in the third was a perfect metaphor for BC’s night. As the ball sailed past Flowers’ hands, ACC Network’s cameras zoomed in on a deflated Jurkovec, hanging his head in defeat.
The Eagles finally got on the board with a 12-play, 75-yard drive. The touchdown came on a five-yard reception from running back Alex Broome.
Jurkorvec’s night ended when quarterback Emmett Morehead subbed in during the fourth quarter. Hafley, however, shut down any speculation that Jurkovec’s starting job is in danger.
“No,” Hafley said when asked about a quarterback change. “The game was out of hand, and we want to get Emmett some reps. That’s all that was.”
Morehead played less than a quarter, finishing with 35 yards on 3-of-6 passing and a touchdown.