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Wake Forest 27, BC 19

Another lost cause for BC

Wake Forest latest to take advantage

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / October 2, 2011

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They have seen this show before. The poor beginning. The mind-boggling mental mistakes. The physical miscues.

Yesterday, after a painful first month that had produced three losses, the Boston College Eagles attempted hit the replay button on their season, and instead came up with a 27-19 loss to Wake Forest at Alumni Stadium.

The only difference in yesterday’s game, before a crowd of 38,265, was BC running back Montel Harris, who seemed back to his old self after recovering from two surgeries on his left knee.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 207-pound senior rushed for 108 yards on 22 carries, surpassing Derrick Knight (2000-03) as BC’s all-time leading rusher. But Harris lost a fumble inside the Wake Forest 10-yard line in the third quarter, and on his record-breaking run, which set up BC’s only touchdown (a 2-yard pass from Chase Rettig to Alex Amidon), Harris banged up his left knee again, although he returned to the game.

BC fell to 1-4, 0-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with the two conference losses coming in what most Eagles fans thought were winnable home games against Duke and Wake Forest.

And the immediate future does not look promising, with road games against ACC heavyweights Clemson and Virginia Tech, who met last night in a battle of unbeatens in Blacksburg.

“It was a matter of them making plays when they had to and us not making them,’’ said coach Frank Spaziani, whose frustration level is increasing.

A case in point came after BC had closed the gap to 24-19 on a Nate Freese’s fourth field goal, a 32-yarder, with six minutes remaining.

What BC needed was a defensive stop and an offensive surge, two things that have showed up only sporadically this season. The defense, which had limited Wake Forest to 15 yards on its previous two possessions, pinned the Demon Deacons at their 15-yard line on third and 15.

But quarterback Tanner Price lofted a prayer down the left sideline to wide receiver Terence Davis, who outleaped free safety Sean Sylvia for a 44-yard reception and a first down at the BC 41. On the next play, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe dipped into his bag of tricks and came up with a 36-yard pass off a reverse from Michael Campanaro to fellow receiver Chris Givens, which gave the Demon Deacons first and goal at the 5.

Although BC prevented a touchdown, Jimmy Newman kicked a 22-yard field goal, and Wake Forest had an 8-point lead again, which the Eagles could not overcome.

“It definitely was getting hairy,’’ said Davis. “We weren’t having too much progress. We just had to find a little momentum and a little bit of play to get going. It should have happened earlier, but it came at the right time.’’

Or the wrong time for BC.

“We’re close, but we’re far away,’’ said Spaziani.

When asked about Davis’s reception, Spaziani could only shake his head. “It’s symptomatic of exactly what’s ailing us right now,’’ he said. “That kid made a nice catch. They made a play, but we’ve got to be better than that.’’

Spaziani sees small steps being taken by his team when he knows larger ones are needed. “We’re making progress,’’ he said. “But, obviously, we have to make more progress. We’re just not consistent and ready to make that play.’’

Spaziani also was bothered by the penalties his team committed (seven for 56 yards), including a pair of drive-killing 15-yarders.

“The margin for us is minuscule,’’ he said. “It’s unconscionable for us to have two 15-yard penalties in the first half, three offsides, two of them by veteran players. We can’t overcome some of that stuff. We have to get it corrected.’’

It has been a slow work in progress, and the losses are mounting, as is the frustration.

“Just losing in general is frustrating, no matter how it happens,’’ said middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. “But to lose this way and have big play after big play on the defensive side of the ball makes you limited.’’

So was the way the Eagles’ defense started, allowing Wake Forest (3-1, 2-0) to take the opening kickoff and march 74 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. “We didn’t come out the way we needed to come out,’’ said Kuechly.

Things got better for the Eagles in the first half, but they were playing catch-up all day. Their last chance ended at the Wake Forest 45 when Rettig (23 of 47, 188 yards, 1 interception, 1 touchdown) came up 2 yards short on a fourth-and-4 scramble.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games like this and they haven’t gone our way,’’ said Rettig. “We have to stay positive and we have to keep pushing. There are going to be better days to come and better games to come.’’

But right now even the most optimistic BC fan would have a tough time telling you when those games will come.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at