Josh Ott returned a Pat Dillingham shovel-pass 71 yards for a touchdown, and Brian St. Pierre connected with tight end Sean Ryan on a two-point conversion to make the score 14-0 in the second quarter, on the heels of a Derrick Knight touchdown scamper in the first quarter.
The Irish had numerous opportunites to punch the ball into the endzone, but were done in by seven fumbles. Prior to Saturday's game, they had only 13 fumbles all season.
It was a classic role-reversal in South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles headed in at 4-3, two of those losses wrought by foolish turnovers and mental blunders. The Irish marched in with eight wins against no losses, arriving at that mark by playing mistake-free football. Brian St. Pierre and the BC offense turned the ball over only once, on a spectacular interception by Notre Dame defensive back Gerome Sapp.
Boston College ended a 23-game losing streak against ranked teams, knocking off the number four ranked Fighting Irish.
The Eagles stand at 5-3, and if they can up their record to 6-3 by defeating a very talented West Virginia team next weekend in Morgantown, BC fans should be very pleased. A 9-3 final record is a good possibility, and I believe many BC fans would have signed for that at the season's outset.
But it could have been better. A win against Pitt last weekend would have given the Eagles a top-25 ranking in this week's polls, and a mistake-free game against Virginia Tech would have put the Eagles in the top-10. 7-1 with victories over Notre Dame and Virginia Tech? It could have been.
But it was not, and we must focus on reality. My realistic thoughts on the game are as follows:
I thought Josh Ott was the obvious choice for player of the game, as he not only ran the interception back for a touchdown, he also recovered a fumble and recorded a number of tackles and deflected passes. The junior linebacker from Silver Springs, MD, certainly gave BC fans hope for the future. Ott will most-likely move over to the MLB position next year.
Derrick Knight proves game and game again that he is the Eagles' offensive MVP. He is hovering around the 900-yard mark for the season, and could easily end up with 1500 yards with Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple still on the schedule. Like Ott, Knight is a junior, and gives BC fans something else to look forward to for the rest of this year, as well as next year.
Brian St, Pierre managed this game well, throwing only the one interception, and not making any mistakes. He did not win the game by any means, but he did not lose it either. I think he may come up with a huge game against West Virginia next weekend, now that the pressure of the "un-clutch" label is somewhat gone.
This was by far the best coached game this season by Tom O'Brien and company. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible, who has been questioned in the past by not only this author, but by some of his players- most notably Jamal Burke in the Boston Globe- called a terrific game, throwing often on first down, and running the ball in the fourth quarter from spread formations to keep the Irish defense off-balance. Bible managed the clock very well against Notre Dame, something he did not do a week ago vs. Pittsburgh.
Without holder Mike Fassel in the lineup due to an illness, Sandro Sciortino missed the only kick he attempted. In fact, the Eagles had to burn a timeout after Knight's touchdown because nobody was on the field to hold for Sciortino. St. Pierre ended up making a decent hold, but Sandro pulled the kick left.
I thought the defensive line held up pretty well without Garay and Goodwin. Tackles Tim Bulman and Tom Martin played stellar games, pressuring the quarterback and recovering fumbles. In other news, I spoke to Doug Goodwin today, and he informed me that he might be back for the end of the season, possibly even as early as Syracuse in two weeks. This will be an added boost to a very confident BC squad.
The secondary held their own. Larry Lester was abused in the first half by Arnaz Battle and company, but seniors Trevor White, Doug Bessette and Ralph Parent all had tremendous games. And what can you say about true freshman Will Blackmon? He made a remarkable tackle on Ryan Grant on third and long, stopping the back just short of the sticks, forcing the Irish to punt the ball away. The ball was never thrown his way, as he played tight coverage all game.
All in all, I thought the Eagles played well enough to win, and deserved the victory. True, you can argue that Notre Dame imploded, making a number of unforced fumbles, but the Eagles also caused many of the Irish's mistakes. Parent forced a fumble and recorded an INT, Ott made a tremendous play on his interception, and BC's defense was amazing on third downs. Great job by Frank Spaziani to keep his troops focused; no costly personal fouls, aside from the petty celebration one on Bessette.
Next week should be a terrific game in Morgantown, with two very confident teams squaring off for Big East positioning.
Michael Chevallier is the publisher of EagleInsider.com. He can be reached at EagleInsiderGuru@aol.com.