It’s been 10 years since Boston College football entered Week 10 with just two wins.
The last time it happened, in 2012, two wins was all BC got.
In a 38–31 loss to Duke (6–3, 3–2 Atlantic Coast) on Friday night, the Eagles (2–7, 1–5) extended their losing streak to four games. In backup quarterback Emmett Morehead’s first career start and his first start since his junior year of high school, the Eagles once again missed an opportunity to surpass two wins.
The redshirt freshman took over for fifth-year quarterback Phil Jurkovec, out with an injury.
“Phil’s hurt right now, so there’s no decision,” Hafley said about the potential for Morehead to start going forward. “Phil’s our starter, and Emmett did a really good job tonight.”
Morehead was sturdy all night long, throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns on 27 completions. He looked comfortable and made smart decisions in the pocket, throwing the ball away when he needed to without tossing a single interception.
“We put him in tough situations,” BC head coach Jeff Hafley said. “But he [Morehead] showed leadership. He showed poise.”
In a game where the Eagles needed Morehead to be Superman, Duke’s sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard overshadowed the redshirt freshman’s performance with his elusive runs and under-pressure throws.
“[Morehead] made big plays and drove us down [the field],” Hafley said. “Emmett’s barely practiced two-minute situations, hasn’t had those reps, and that’s pretty much what he did. And the second half, you know, we’re an onside kick away from tying the game.”
BC’s defense didn’t provide much help, looking flat for the second week in a row and allowing its second straight 60-yard touchdown on the Blue Devils’ first drive.
Under three minutes into the game, Leonard took an option read to the house, setting the tone for the night. Leonard amassed 96 yards on the ground for the Blue Devils, tormenting the Eagles’ front four. Duke registered 232 rushing yards on the night.
“It’s something we certainly game planned for,” said linebacker Vinny DePalma. “Sometimes those great athletes can just kind of, you know, get themselves out of a hole. So that’s when we just got to keep running to the ball and keep attacking the ball and try to get the guy on the ground.”
On BC’s second offensive series, two chunk plays—an Alex Broome run of 22 yards and a 36-yard completion to Joseph Griffin Jr., who totaled 103 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns on the night—set up BC in the red zone. On first-and-2, Zay Flowers caught Morehead’s first touchdown pass of the night. It was the Eagles’ first first-quarter touchdown since Week Five against Louisville.
But it wasn’t enough for BC to overcome Duke’s Jordan Waters, who found holes in the Eagles’ interior all game. With 11 minutes to go in the second quarter, Waters picked apart the Eagles’ defense on a 7-yard, untouched rushing touchdown to increase Duke’s lead.
The Eagles, meanwhile, struggled mightily on the ground, totaling 75 rushing yards and averaging 2.7 yards per carry.
Flowers, who caught two touchdowns on 65 receiving yards, was a bright spot for BC once again, but he was visibly frustrated after early miscommunications with Morehead during the second quarter.
One of those miscommunications resulted in BC’s fourth three-and-out of the half. BC had a total of six total three-and-outs on the night.
The Eagles’ inability to push the ball and reach better field position proved to be a difference maker. While Duke’s average starting field position came at its 40-yard line, BC’s came at its own 19.
“[Our] field position wasn’t good enough,” Hafley said. “If you think about Emmett trying to operate the offense backed up, it’s a lot harder. … It felt like [Duke] had a short field almost every other drive in the first half, and we were playing backed up for most of the first half.”
Before halftime, the Eagles shaved Duke’s lead down to 10 points after Griffin secured his first touchdown.
But in the second half, Duke kept its foot on the gas pedal. Jaquez Moore smoked the Eagles on a 24-yard rushing touchdown with 10 minutes left to play in the third quarter.
Touchdown passes to Flowers and Griffin got BC back within the 10-point deficit range in the fourth quarter. But Morehead got sacked on back-to-back fourth quarter drives, crushing BC’s comeback hopes.
With 17 seconds left in the game, however, Connor Lytton nailed a field goal from 34 yards that made the score 38–31 in Duke’s favor. BC just needed to recover an onside kick and send a hail mary shot down the field to tie the game, but it was subsequently controlled by Duke.
The Eagles’ offense showed its best in weeks without its starter on the field. BC’s 31 points were 10 more than BC had scored in its past three games combined.