Boston College, ranked #25 in the Coaches’ Poll, didn’t put a crooked number on the scoreboard against the visiting, Division 1-AA Black Bears. But the Eagles’ defense, inspired by the comeback of senior safety Ryan Glasper, posted a goose egg and junior halfback Andre Callender (75 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and a 29-yard reception) gave the offense a major boost, leading BC to a 22-0 shutout.
“To pitch a shutout is tough,’ Glasper said after the game, “I don’t care who it’s against. There’s too many things that can happen - a guy can get lucky, get open, blown coverage, something – that can cost us a touchdown. So for us to pitch a shutout, that’s a credit to the whole defense.”
The 41,162 fans in attendance were not treated to a particularly thrilling contest to celebrate BC’s annual Parents Weekend. Saturday’s game didn’t feature a lot of offense (the teams combined for less than 500 total yards) and sloppy play from both sides (there were seven fumbles in the game) prevented the teams from establishing any sort of rhythm. Key plays here and there from the Eagles’ side, however, were enough to swing the final score comfortably in their favor.
A 29-yard field goal on the opening drive by embattled kicker Ryan Ohliger was the only scoring of the first quarter. Ohliger, who had missed four field goals this season and three of his last four extra-point attempts coming into the game, had a 40-yard field goal attempt blocked in the third quarter, but was successful on his other two tries and perfect on two extra points.
The Eagles threatened to score again at the beginning of the second quarter, but failed to convert on fourth down on Maine’s 26-yard line. Maine’ offense, which featured regular option runs by senior quarterback Ron Whitcomb out of a spread shotgun formation (i.e. Pat White and West Virginia), was driven back deep into its own territory after the turnover-on-downs. On fourth-and-16 from the Black Bears’ own 18, BC’s Clarence Megwa, a redshirt freshman who also had two catches in the game, broke through the line and blocked Kash Keifer’s punt. Kevin Akins made a tackle in the end zone for a safety when the Black Bears recovered the ball.
“It was a high snap,” Tom O’Brien said, describing the blocked punt, “…and Megwa was supposed to force the kick and he was the side that the snap was high on. He just made a great individual play.”
Two points and the ball was the reward for Megwa’s special play on special teams and the Eagles went for the jugular on the ensuing possession. Good field position (Maine’s “free kick” following the safety was a 44-yard punt, returned by Jeff Smith to the Eagles’ 43) and a productive running game helped BC reach Maine’s 25-yard line on just five plays. Callender took it the rest of the way one play later when he tore through the middle of the field for his first rushing touchdown of the season. The 25-yarder was the longest run from scrimmage the Eagles have had all season.
“It was just great blocking up front,” Callender said about his touchdown run. “The offensive line, they did their job, and my job was to run the ball.”
Ohliger’s second field goal (30 yards) came with less than two minutes to go in the first half and junior Brian Toal, who also had a career-long 21-yard run in the second quarter, had a one-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter to round out the scoring. It was Toal’s team-high fourth rushing TD of the season and tenth of his career.
Glasper didn’t make any significant plays when he was out there, but his return to the field was a sight for sore eyes. BC’s pass defense coming into the game (300 yards a game) was ranked 117th in the nation and last in the ACC. But with Glasper roaming the secondary, the Eagles allowed just 82 yards through the air on Saturday.
“It felt great,” Glasper said about his comeback from hip surgery in April. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was told I was going to have to sit out [the beginning of the year]. It’s definitely a blessing, I’m glad to be back part of the team and it’s an honor. I felt an energy rush when I went out on the field and I felt part of something again. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
The Eagles got big-time contributions from the youngest members of the defense: the true freshmen. Wes Davis and Roderick Rollins each played significant time in the secondary while Jamie Silva and Taji Morris both sat out with injuries. Alex Albright, a second-string defensive end, had seven tackles and a sack.
Mark Herzlich, another true freshman from Wayne, Pennsylvania, had a breakout game. He recorded six tackles, including one for a nine-yard loss, and appeared to have the athleticism of a d-back when he made a diving interception in the second quarter. He also started the game off right with a 26-yard return on the opening kickoff when a squib kick by Maine’s Luigi Sebastiani, Jr. bounced in Herzlich’s direction.
“It came to me and the blocking set up and, you know, back to high school days, getting the ball in my hands,” said Herzlich, who scored three career touchdowns as a fullback at Conestoga High School. “…I was honored to be in the game…and being able to make some plays.”
The Eagles have a week to rest before ACC rival Virginia Tech comes to town on October 12th for a Thursday night game.