Defensive back Elijah Jones hunted down Chibueze Onwuka as Boston College football players began to filter off the field. A small group of fans had gathered on the turf, having jumped the fence in the stands, and were congregating near the visitors’ tunnel.
“You may not realize, but you won us the game,” Jones said he told Onwuka.
The fifth-year defensive tackle had jumped over the line of scrimmage on a Louisville extra point try in the second quarter, and he made contact with the ball, sending it wide of the uprights.
BC won the game by one point.
The Eagles’ offense came alive in a 34–33 win over Louisville (2–3, 0–3 Atlantic Coast), led by Zay Flowers. The rest of BC’s offense followed Flowers’ lead with explosive plays downfield, which have been hard to come by for the Eagles so far this season. Behind Flowers and a staunch defensive effort, BC (2–3, 1–2) battled its way to its first Power Five win of the season.
“This wasn’t the best win we’ve ever had here,” head coach Jeff Hafley said in his postgame press conference. “It’s just stuff we had to do throughout the week to get it. … And then to finish like that, that’s a special moment for these guys.”
Two fourth-quarter field goals from Connor Lytton sealed the win.
“That’s the difference between winning or losing this game,” Hafley said.
The Eagles’ offense flashed shades of the explosive unit it became last season, ending the game with 13 plays of 10 yards or more. BC finished with 304 passing yards and a season high 150 rushing yards.
Flowers continued his highlight-reel play with a 57-yard touchdown catch in double coverage in the second quarter. It was—at the time—the longest completion of the season for Jurkovec, whose previous high was 53 yards against Maine.
“It was the best catch I’ve seen from him,” Jurkovec said. “He just wanted it more.”
Jurkovec said that he spent extra time working with Flowers this week on deep balls, resulting in 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns on just five catches for the receiver.
Jurkovec topped his season-long pass again in the third quarter, hitting Flowers for a 69-yard touchdown.
“He’s got to be one of the best players in college football,” Hafley said of Flowers.
Though Jurkovec struggled with decision making a few times throughout the game—including an errant backward pass that resulted in a loss of 31 yards and a turnover on BC’s 17-yard line—he looked much improved from BC’s 30-point loss to Florida State in Week Four.
The Eagles’ offensive line also fared better than it has this season, allowing just three sacks.
As strong as BC’s offense looked Saturday, the defensive unit looked even better. BC’s defensive players were playing “with their hair on fire,” Hafley said, and it showed up on the stat sheet. BC held dynamic quarterback Malik Cunningham to just 62 yards rushing—he was averaging over 100 entering the game—and 186 yards passing.
“The quarterback is their most electrifying player, and I thought we did an unbelievable job containing him,” Hafley said.
That hot-headed defense resulted in 13 penalties against the Eagles totaling 83 yards. But Hafley said most of those penalties weren’t worth worrying about.
“You’re going to be violent, and you’re going to hit, and you’re going to be aggressive,” Hafley said. “Some of the stuff we need to clean up because some really bothers me, but the others, sometimes it happens.”
The one penalty Hafley said he wasn’t okay with, however, was targeting.
The Eagles forced a third down in the third quarter, and as Cunningham dashed for the line to gain, Jaylen Blackwell came in too hot and too late. Officials flagged Blackwell for a late hit with targeting, sending Blackwell to the locker room and Cunningham to the medical tent for evaluation. That penalty, compounded with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, gave Louisville an extra 30 yards and a first down.
Cunningham was back on the field for the Cardinals’ next drive, but he exited the game again in the fourth quarter and did not return.
BC went into victory formation with just over one minute left on the clock and appeared to win it when Jurkovec took a knee four plays in a row. Fans began to spill out onto the field, but officials waved them off, as the play was under review.
Officials determined that there was one second left on the clock when Jurkovec took a knee on fourth-down, sending out Louisville’s offense for one last shot. Backup quarterback Brock Domann launched a Hail Mary pass downfield, but Kam Arnold came up with an interception to end the game.
“There was more energy on the sideline than I’ve seen,” Hafley said. “Guys played freer. It was so much fun to watch them play today and celebrate together at the end.”