BC 23, Wake Forest 13

BC drives home its point

Harris, line put stamp on victory

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / November 7, 2010

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — They had practiced the same plays for days, weeks, even months. Nothing special. Nothing fancy.

“BC football,’’ said running back Montel Harris with a smile. “Running the ball down their throats, straight ahead, even if they knew it was coming.’’

So it was yesterday for Boston College at BB&T Field as the Eagles took on Wake Forest in an Atlantic Coast Conference game that had little impact on the top of the standings, but meant a great deal in terms of personal pride and the one goal that remains for BC — finishing above .500 and being invited to a bowl game for the 12th straight year.

So, BC did what it needed to against Wake Forest. The Eagles did it early and they did it often, and finally, when the outcome was somewhat in doubt, they did it at the end, preserving a 23-13 victory. It improved the Eagles’ record to 4-5, which looks and feels a whole lot better than the woeful 2-5 mark they carried two weeks ago after a five-game losing streak.

And leading the way was Harris, who was at his best with 183 yards on 36 carries, including all three of the Eagles’ touchdowns.

BC grabbed control early. Spurred on by an aggressive defense led by linebacker Luke Kuechly, which produced five turnovers (four interceptions of freshman Tanner Price), the Eagles built a 14-3 lead that was cut to 20-13 in the fourth quarter.

Although this Wake Forest team (2-7, 1-5) was a far cry from the Riley Skinner-led Demon Deacons of recent years, when every BC-Wake Forest game seemed to come down to the final series, there was a sense this one could slip away.

Despite its lead, BC had made enough mistakes — an interception by freshman quarterback Chase Rettig that set up Wake Forest’s only touchdown, a blocked extra point, and a blocked field goal — to create a sense of uneasiness on the Eagles’ sideline.

BC’s offense, which had been piggybacking on the success of the defense in recent weeks, took over at its 11 with 9:12 remaining, knowing it had to reestablish control.

It did, moving 81 yards in 11 plays, 72 of the yards coming on straight-ahead rushes by Harris. Nate Freese capped the drive with a 25-yard field goal, putting BC up, 23-13, with 3:53 remaining.

“We knew we had to sustain that drive and take time off the clock,’’ said Harris. “That’s what BC football is. That’s what the offensive line did. They just buckled down. They said that we needed this drive to end the game and they went out and blocked and I was able to get in the secondary. That’s what we needed.’’

It didn’t seem as if the Eagles would need a final push until the fourth quarter, when Rettig (12 of 16, 133 yards) had a pass intercepted by Joey Ehrmann.

And before you could say, “Watch out,’’ Wake Forest ran a double reverse, off which Marshall Williams threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to fellow wide receiver Chris Givens, cutting BC’s lead to 20-13.

But this time there was no collapse, no last-second miscues. The Eagles’ offense took on the swagger of the defense, much to the delight of Kuechly (14 tackles, one interception).

“They were rolling at the end, they were smashing,’’ Kuechly said. “I think they ran the same play three or four times in a row. Montel was rolling, the offensive line was rolling. It was a good team win. That’s what counts. We’re rolling right now, out of the slump and we’ve got a streak going in the right way.’’

Even with that final drive, it might have turned against the Eagles if Freese had come up empty on the clinching field goal, or had a third kick blocked. But Freese kept his cool. “I knew I had to make it to put us up by 10 points,’’ he said.

“That’s like the good old days, to finish a game like that,’’ said BC coach Frank Spaziani. “The kids have determination and hopefully we can build on that because that’s the way we have to play.’’