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Eagles eyeing the finish line

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / November 21, 2011

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One of the mantras of Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani is, “We win together, we lose together.’’

Yet with eight losses in 11 games, there certainly have been things to point fingers at if anyone chose to.

Usually it has been a fumble, a penalty, or some other mistake by a player. But in Saturday’s 16-14 loss at Notre Dame, a very winnable game, the blame could be spread to all phases of the operation.

Spaziani’s initial assessment of the loss yesterday was that the Eagles didn’t do enough to win and that BC needed “a hero’’ to save the day.

Unfortunately, players such as linebacker Luke Kuechly, who had another phenomenal day, defensive end Max Holloway, and punter Ryan Quigley couldn’t do quite enough.

And there were more mistakes, and decisions that could be questioned.

On the first play of the game, Irish running back Jonas Gray was nailed by Kuechly for a 2-yard loss on the Notre Dame 20. But Eagles cornerback Donnie Fletcher was called for a personal foul, which helped the Irish quickly move down the field for a TD.

With 3:04 left in the first half, BC had just marched 80 yards for a score to cut a 10-0 Notre Dame lead to 10-7, with quarterback Chase Rettig confidently getting most of the yardage through the air.

With the Notre Dame offense starting at its 30 in an attempt to answer, BC defensive back Sean Sylvia committed a personal foul that put the ball in Eagles territory.

The Irish turned that into a field goal and a little-bit-more-secure 13-7 halftime lead.

And finally, BC had just scored on a 9-yard pass from Rettig to Bobby Swigert with 1:57 left to cut ND’s lead to 16-14.

The Eagles had one timeout left and had a choice - try to regain possession with an onside kick or kick it deep, hoping to get the ball back with enough time to try a winning field goal.

Spaziani chose the onside kick, which didn’t work. BC eventually got the ball back on its 20, but with only seven seconds left and the game was over.

If there was a positive, it was the continued off-the-charts play of Kuechly.

If any play typified Kuechly’s career at BC, it came in the second half, when he not only forced Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees wide on an option run, but he then tracked down Gray and tackled him for a short gain.

BC must regroup at Miami Friday in its finale, and then must decide what should be done to improve next year.

“You never like penalties,’’ Spaziani said. “But we’re trying to get ourselves an edge and some of the guys might have been over the top. As frustrating as it may be, it did get us percolating.’’

And his message was clear for the final game.

“Another chance to play and define ourselves,’’ he said.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at