Boston College's 2011 season began this afternoon at Alumni Stadium, the same way their season ended last year--with a frustrating loss in which the Eagles showed they didn't have enough right stuff at the right time to take care of an aggressive Northwestern team.
Led by quarterback Kain Colter, the Wildcats broke from a 10-10 halftime tie and posted a 24-17 victory, much to the disappointment of the Alumni Stadium crowd of 37,561, which watched BC stage a furious, but unsuccessful fourth quarter comeback.
"They came in here and did what they had to do,'' said BC coach Frank Spaziani. "We couldn't run the ball the way we needed to run the ball. They had entirely too many yards on the ground (227). We played too sloppy to win a game like that.''
The Eagles began their season and the game with a splash as Andre Williams broke through a hole on the left side and raced 69 yards from his 27 to the Northwestern four before he was pulled down. But a problem from last season quickly surfaced and the Eagles could not push the ball in from the red zone and had to settle for a 19 yard field goal by Nate Freese.
It set the tone for the first of the first half, which ended in a 10-10 tie as Northwestern led by quarterback Colter -- as expected last year's starter, Dan Persa, did not play as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon--sprinted three yards for a game-tying TD in the final minute of the first half.
The Eagles offense came primarily through Williams, filling in admirably for Montel Harris (knee) and recovered from a sprained ankle himself. Williams scored the Eagles only touchdown in the first half with a scoring burst of 6 yards set up by a Luke Kuechly interception.
Still as the second half started, the game was tied, with no clear indication of whether the Eagles would begin their season on a positive note.
The second half didn't suggest any good news for the Eagles as Northwestern took the second half kickoff and marched 80 yards for a score with running back Mike
Trumpy going the final 5 yards to given the Wildcats 17-10 lead.
The Wildcats added to that margin midway through the fourth quarter when running back Adonis Smith went the final yard on a 77-yard TD march to give them a 24-10 lead with 9:24 remaining in the game.
The Eagles finally responded when QB Chase Rettig took BC on an 80-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 38 yard pass to Ifanaeyi Momah which gave the Eagles a first and goal at the Northwestern 2.
Williams then powered his way in from the 1 for the score which cut the Northwestern lead to 24-7 with six minutes left in the game.
Now it was up to the BC defense to come up with a stop -- and do it quickly. The defense did just that as Northwestern went three and out and the Wildcats were forced to punt.
With 3:44 on the clock, the Eagles took over from their own 24.
But the Wildcats held and took over on downs at their own 42 and ran the clock down to the 1:37 where the Eagles took over on their own 36 with one last chance.
Rettig, with no time outs and slightly banged up after taking a hit, brought the Eagles down to the Northwestern 19 with 18 seconds left.
A false start penalty put the Eagles back five yards to the 24 but it also ran 10 second off the clock which left the Eagles with 4 seconds left.
On the last play, Rettig was forced out of the pocket and also knocked down with an injury which was later diagnosed as nothing more than "getting the wind knocked out of him.''
"I held onto the ball too long unfortuantely,'' said Rettig, who had a career high 375 passing yards, but no touchdowns.''
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell