Sports, Football, Fall

Notebook: Improvement on the Ground and Sturdy First-Half Defense Not Enough in BC’s Loss to Syracuse 

For Boston College football, nothing has come easy in its three-win 2022 season. From playing eight different offensive line combinations in its first eight games to ranking as the worst rushing offense in the country, BC has been through it all. But in its last game of the year on Senior Night, the ball was rolling steadily—at least to start.

A Bryce Steele fumble recovery and Edwin Kolenge blocked punt propelled the Eagles to a 10–0 lead over the Orange in the first quarter. Despite only registering a field goal on its first offensive drive of the game, BC’s second offensive drive proved flawless. 

First, the Eagles showcased a running back, Pat Garwo III, rushing for positive yardage, something they haven’t done much all season. Then, quarterback Emmett Morehead shoveled a quick slant to Zay Flowers for a 7-yard touchdown. 

Even Syracuse—who trounced BC a year prior and went 6–0 to start the 2022 season—didn’t make the Eagles’ confidence falter out of the gates, as BC dominated throughout the first half. But time got the best of the Eagles late in the game, and offensive mistakes coupled with a worn down defense in the fourth quarter led to Syracuse turning things around.  

Despite an unrecognizable start, BC was right back where it had started the season—on the losing side of a matchup. Here are three observations from the loss. 

Gaining Back the Ground, One Yard at a Time

The highlight of BC’s night—other than its efficient first three quarters on defense—came on the ground, in the form of rushing yards. BC recorded a rushing touchdown for the first time since Phil Jurkovec ran for a score in the Eagles’ 43–15 loss to Wake Forest in Week Eight.

Garwo was a second team All-ACC pick in the 2021 season, during which he became BC’s 24th all-time 1,000-yard rusher with 1,045 rushing yards on the year. But this season, he hasn’t shown any signs of his former self. Garwo had tallied just 320 rushing yards heading into BC’s matchup with Syracuse, and Alex Broome even usurped him as the lead back at times throughout the season. On Saturday, however, Garwo was the same workhorse Eagles’ fans saw all of last year. 

The redshirt junior rushed for 83 yards on the game and scored a touchdown on the ground early in the fourth quarter, seemingly putting the game out of reach for the Orange, who had to claw its way back from an 11-point deficit. 

Garwo’s transition to success on the ground came in the form of hard-nosed running. While another newcomer on the offensive line was forced to enter the game for the Eagles—this one being Otto Hess—the O-line held up nicely against a Syracuse defense led by linebacker Marlowe Wax. BC’s O-line successfully made space for the running back to amass yardage. 

Cold Feet  

When it came down to the nitty gritty details of the game, Emmett Morehead found himself in trouble when it mattered most. Partly to his own mistakes, and partly because the pocket became increasingly congested as the game went on, BC required a complete effort from its quarterback, and didn’t get it.

Morehead picked up 252 passing yards and two touchdowns on a 76.3 percent completion rate. After a five-turnover game in South Bend a week ago, the redshirt freshman didn’t throw a single interception and spread out the field with poise. Morehead tossed both of his touchdowns to Flowers, who made history yet again by becoming BC’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. 

But the tone of the game shifted when Morehead began single-handedly losing the turnover battle in the second half. Due to his lack of mobility and grip on the football, he failed to escape pressure and missed offensive opportunities. 

Morehead’s late fumble led to a Syracuse score which was the catalyst to the Orange’s march to victory. The signal caller has shown promise in his four starts this year, but has failed to show major improvements from week to week.

Time Management

BC’s defense was a stronghold for most of the game, but there was nothing it could do when the Eagles’ offense handed over the ball to the Orange on multiple three-and-outs and turnovers in the second half. 

When BC took a 17–6 lead in the fourth quarter, it looked like things were just about wrapped up and the Eagles would walk away with a win. The Eagles’ defense outperformed Syracuse’s defensive unit and recorded seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. 

But as time snuck away from BC’s offense, BC’s defense had to step in and endure more time on the field—and to no avail. In a 10-minute span in the fourth quarter, Syracuse running back Sean Tucker registered two touchdowns and Shrader passed for his only two touchdowns of the game on plays to Devaughn Cooper and Damien Alford. And as the clock ticked down, BC didn’t have enough time to recover and left Alumni Stadium with its ninth loss of the year.

November 29, 2022
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