Football, Fall, Sports

Notebook: Turnovers, Lack of Production Lead to Demoralizing Loss to Notre Dame 

Throughout the week leading up to its matchup against No. 18 Notre Dame, Boston College football—including all five of its starting offensive linemen—battled high fevers, with many players missing practice due to illness. 

The Fighting Irish entered the game on a four-game win streak and with a defensive line ready to take advantage of the Eagles’ season-long protection struggles. BC hasn’t defeated Notre Dame since 2008, and to make matters worse, the temperature in South Bend at kickoff was 25 degrees. The game was the coldest BC had played in since 2017, when the Eagles faced Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl in 22-degree weather. 

Notre Dame took a 37–0 halftime lead and held BC scoreless all game—the first time BC has not scored all season. In one of the worst losses of the Jeff Hafley era—a 44–0 beatdown—BC did very few things right. 

Here are three observations from the loss.

Turnover Trouble

In Emmett Morehead’s first two career starts, the redshirt freshman threw two total interceptions. Morehead looked sharp in the pocket and, for the most part, made smart decisions in those games. 

In Morehead’s third career start on Saturday—as starter Phil Jurkovec continued to battle multiple injuries—took a step back. Morehead threw three interceptions—all into the hands of cornerback Benjamin Morrison—and fumbled twice, looking rattled all game amid heavy snowfall. 

Morehead threw his first interception of the day on the Eagles’ third offensive play of the game. As the pocket collapsed, Morehead tried to make something out of nothing, but he instead gave the ball to the Fighting Irish on BC’s 20-yard line. 

With three minutes remaining in the first quarter, a 39-yard pass to Zay Flowers put the Eagles inside Notre Dame’s 25-yard line. But Morehead gave the ball right back to the Fighting Irish again. BC didn’t make a red zone trip for the rest of the game.  

On back-to-back drives in the second quarter, Notre Dame forced Morehead to fumble for BC’s third and fourth turnovers of the game. On Morehead’s first fumble, BC’s offensive line provided no help, which resulted in the strip sack. The Eagles’ offensive line allowed four total sacks while BC’s defense never sacked Notre Dame’s Drew Pyne. 

Morehead’s final interception—for BC’s fifth and final turnover—was too high for running back Alex Broome, and Morrison made a spectacular diving catch. 

First-Half Failures

For the second time this season, BC’s opponent held the Eagles scoreless in the first half, but the 37–0 halftime deficit was the largest for the Eagles all season. 

At halftime, the Fighting Irish totaled 336 offensive yards while the Eagles only had 81. Notre Dame had 214 yards on the ground. BC had one. 

In the second quarter, the Eagles netted negative rushing yards—a total of -8. 

Notre Dame also had possession of the football for eight more minutes than BC had, which gave the Fighting Irish ample opportunity to march down the field and put points on the board. The Fighting Irish scored on all seven of their first-half drives, picking up four touchdowns and three field goals.  

On the Eagles’ seven first-half offensive drives, they recorded two interceptions, two fumbles, and two punts. BC’s last drive ended with a sack as time ran out. 

The Fighting Irish ran 41 total offensive plays in the first half compared to BC’s 26, averaging 8.2 yards per play while the Eagles averaged 3.1. 

Zay Keeps Making History

The only bright spot for the Eagles on Saturday was Flowers, who broke another BC football record. On his third catch of the game, Flowers became BC’s all-time leader in career receptions, passing Alex Amidon’s 191 career receptions just a week after becoming BC’s all-time receiving yards leader. 

Flowers also moved into a tie for fourth most receptions in a season, matching Tom Waddle’s 70 receptions in 1988. Flowers’ 960 receiving yards on the season also passed Kelvin Martin (1985) and Rich Gunnell (2007) for fourth in single-season total receiving yards. 

Flowers tallied just three receptions Saturday, his lowest number of catches in a game since BC’s Week Nine dud against UConn in which he only had two receptions. 

Flowers’ three receptions, however, marked the highest reception count of all Eagles on Saturday, with only four other players—Taji Johnson, Broome, George Takacs, and Jeremiah Franklin—registering at least one catch. 

November 20, 2022