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Orange win over BC has juicy subplots

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Boston College had plenty of built-in excuses for this one. Plenty of distractions, beginning with its decision last Sunday to defect from the Big East and become the Atlantic Coast Conference's 12th team. The timing of the decision, midway through football season, couldn't have been more awkward for the Eagles, especially with a game at Syracuse.

There was the filing of a second lawsuit against BC by four Big East schools, a declaratory judgment action filed by BC against the Big East to determine its withdrawal procedure, and Syracuse chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw lobbing charges of deceit and dishonesty at BC president Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., by labeling him a "double agent."

The Eagles tried to concentrate on football. But even that was difficult when their charter flight to Syracuse was delayed almost six hours at Hanscom Field. The result was a 3 a.m. arrival at the team hotel in Auburn, N.Y.

And while the distractions were aplenty, BC refused to point to them as the reasons for yesterday's 39-14 Big East setback before a Carrier Dome crowd of 45,313 that subjected the Eagles to chants of "A-C-C, A-C-C."

"We were a half-step behind the whole game, but they did a heck of a job and played well," said BC coach Tom O'Brien, whose team (4-3 overall, 1-2 Big East) must regroup for a huge nonconference home game against Notre Dame next weekend. "We just couldn't make a play. I thought our guys came in and played hard. We were just off a little bit. If you're off a little bit, as my old coach George Welsh used to say, then you might as well be off a mile."

Yesterday, the Eagles were off by a country mile.

When Anthony Smith recovered a blocked punt and went 4 yards for the score, it gave Syracuse a 32-7 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter. It also triggered a shower of money from the upper deck, the fans' small-denomination bills showing that they felt the Eagles took the money and ran to the ACC.

"The abuse? It was pretty brutal," said junior quarterback Quinton Porter, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 249 yards and accounted for BC's only two touchdowns on a 21-yard strike to Dave Kashetta and a 39-yarder to Larry Lester. "We didn't hear much until near the end. Some people behind us were saying things like, `What are you going to do against Florida State?' and stuff like that." The Orangemen doled out the real abuse. Syracuse's defense sacked Porter five times while holding running back Derrick Knight, who entered as the nation's leading rusher, to 19 carries for 51 yards, well below his league-leading average (147.7).

"Maybe we were a little sluggish, coming in late last night," Knight said. "But that's no excuse. We still have to go out and perform 60 minutes of football regardless of what happens.

"We didn't do that today."

Syracuse quarterback R.J. Anderson torched the penalty-prone Eagles (11 for 88 yards) by passing for 215 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 73 yards. His 8-yard touchdown capped a 20-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter that consumed 8 minutes 47 seconds and demoralized the Eagles.

"That one drive," marveled Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, whose team (4-2, 1-1) rebounded from a 51-7 shellacking at Virginia Tech last week. "I think that was just a thing of beauty and a classic, the way we controlled the ball."

Syracuse took a 6-0 first-quarter lead when Anderson capitalized on a 36-yard interception return by Diamond Ferri with a 12-yard TD pass to Rashard Williams (7 catches, 71 yards). The Eagles took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter on Porter's 21-yard strike to Kashetta, but Anderson rallied Syracuse to a 19-7 halftime lead when he connected with Johnnie Morant on TD passes of 52 and 10 yards.

The Eagles' first possession of the second half ended in Sandro Sciortino's missed 47-yard field goal (wide right). Syracuse went 70 yards in 10 plays to take a 26-7 lead on Walter Reyes's 1-yard plunge. Smith then tallied on the blocked punt to put it out of reach.

BC put up a final score when Porter connected with Lester (2 catches, 49 yards) on the 39-yard TD, but was done in by Syracuse's monster drive in the fourth.

"I didn't hear any [excuses] in the locker room," said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. "But in the back of somebody's mind, there might have been. I think it's up to you to speculate about that, but we weren't using that as an excuse on defense. "It's just one of those things you have to play through; it's an obstacle and you just have to be accountable and play through things like that."

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