Fall, Football, Sports

Second Half Struggles, Penalties Plague BC In Blowout Loss To Wake Forest

Wake Forest ripped the heart out of Boston College football last year, as Wake dominated BC 41–10 to end the Eagles’ 2021 season.

Coming off a bye week, BC was looking for a much different result against the Demon Deacons (6–1, 2–1 Atlantic Coast) this time around. And while the Eagles (2–5, 1–4) scored five more points Saturday than they did in 2021 and were down just 21–9 at halftime, the result was largely the same in a 43–15 loss for BC. 

BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec looked sharp at times, especially when utilizing his legs, but he also struggled to hit his receivers in stride. The offensive line fared no worse than it has this season—even with Jackson Ness making his first career start at center as Drew Kendall was out with a broken wrist—and allowed two sacks. 

Wide receiver Zay Flowers—who leads the ACC in reception yards—shined, tallying 135 yards on 10 receptions and carrying the Eagles for as long as he possibly could. 

“It’s always difficult,” Flowers said of remaining optimistic amid a losing season. “But I just try to stay positive and just try to keep the energy and locker room positive so we can always go out the next day and play hard and work hard and just do the best we can every game.” 

BC implemented designed runs for Jurkovec—something the Eagles haven’t done much of this season. In BC’s second drive of the game, Jurkovec’s gains for 12, nine, and three yards on the ground helped the Eagles get within five yards of Wake’s endzone. But a false start on offensive lineman Jack Conley sent BC back, forcing it to kick a 29-yard field goal on a missed opportunity. 

“That’s something we looked at [this week] and we need to have more success with, and I think that we did,” BC coach Jeff Hafley said of Jurkovec’s increased rushing plays. “Some of them were scrambles, but there were a handful of designed runs. … It’s something I think we need to continue to build off of because we had success doing it.”

Wake’s high-powered offense—which had 20 total passing touchdowns on the season heading into Saturday’s game, good for second best in the ACC—kicked into gear near the end of the first quarter. Sam Hartman found Jahmal Banks on a back shoulder throw for the score over BC’s Elijah Jones. 

BC’s defensive line struggled to put any pressure on Hartman or running back Justice Ellison. Ellison and Christian Turner’s patient approaches with the football—reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell’s glory days in Pittsburgh—carried Wake. The Demon Deacons ran for 115 yards, helping Wake tally 29 first downs all game to BC’s 15. 

“It’s tough to defend,” BC defensive end Marcus Valdez said. “Everyone has to try to attack it different. But at the end of the day, it’s tough, and you gotta tough it out and try to force [Wake] to, you know, either throw it or pass it and try to speed it up.”

An off-script fake punt on fourth-and-8 by Danny Longman for 24 yards kept the Eagles’ drive alive. It was the longest run of the game for BC.

A wild play from both sides—a fumble from Jurkovec on a fourth-and-11 pass attempt that was recovered by Wake’s Jasheen Davis, who subsequently fumbled once again after Conley got his hands on the ball—ensued. BC recovered, got a new set of downs, and Jurkovec found a wide open Flowers on a 61-yard touchdown to cut Wake’s lead to 14–9. 

“Yeah, I’ve seen that a few times,” Hafley said of the double-fumble play. “You know, I thought that gave us momentum at the time.”

Big plays in the air were a theme for both teams, as BC averaged 10.8 yards per completion to Wake’s 12.5. Jurkovec, however, missed Flowers on two throws in the first half that would have resulted in big completions, keeping BC behind for most of the game.

“You got to take some shots [down the field] to try to have them deep and up,” Hafley said. “We couldn’t get it to that one possession. It stayed at two possessions for a while, and then it got away from us.”

BC’s first sack of the day came at the start of the third quarter from Vinny DePalma, forcing a Wake three-and-out. But undisciplined penalties killed the Eagles and gave Wake 30 free yards to help the Demon Deacons go up 28–9.

BC recorded 11 total penalties, giving Wake 104 yards, highlighted by back-to-back false starts by Conley in the third quarter. Ness also had a few shaky snaps under center, causing the O-line to look out-of-sync at times.

“It’s a new center-quarterback combination in which they haven’t had a lot of work together,” Hafley said. “But that guy [Ness], I mean, you want to talk about a guy who’s given his all. A year ago he’s playing defensive line, then he’s our starting guard, and now he’s our starting center? I’m not sure anybody realizes how hard that is.”

Missed opportunities continued to plague BC. After an interception by Cole Batson, BC couldn’t put anything together offensively, and Hafley chose to punt from his own 46. Wake scored on the ensuing drive, going up 36–15 and putting the game away. A touchdown pass from Hartman to Jahmal sealed Wake’s win in the fourth. 

October 22, 2022