In Boston College’s first game at McGuirk Stadium since 1982, the Massachusetts football team were unable to defend its home turf, losing 45-28. The Eagles (2-0) emerged victorious despite losing starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec to a wrist injury in the 1st quarter.
BC received an efficient performance from backup quarterback Dennis Grosel who stepped in completing 11 out of 14 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Running back Patrick Garwo had a monster game for the Eagles rushing for 164 yards on 15 attempts.
In a game filled with momentum swings, the Minutemen (0-2) kept the game within reach as freshman quarterback Brady Olson showed flashes of brilliance in his first career start.
“Brady has unbelievable self-confidence,” head coach Walt Bell said. “He has great moxie and a great demeanor; he’s going to be a really good quarterback for a long time.”
The freshman displayed his composure as he converted a fourth-and-five from Boston College’s 15-yard line finding Eric Collins on a perfectly placed throw to his back shoulder in the end zone with 1:56 to go in the third quarter.
Olson was thrust into action with starter Tyler Lytle sidelined due to injury and turned in solid debut for his collegiate career throwing for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
“I definitely think I had a solid game,” said Olson of his performance. “There’s stuff I could work on and be better on, but I just got to learn from it.”
Down 14-0 in the second quarter after two early Boston College scores the Minutemen had a prime chance to score after getting down to the Eagles 1-yard line. UMass was unable to score as the Boston College defense stuffed the Minutemen four consecutive times, forcing a turnover on downs.
“We did not execute very well on that goal line scenario,” said Bell. “On fourth down that’s on me, I kind of wanted to prove a point, get big, and run the ball at them, with a young group of O-linemen that might not have been the wisest choice.”
UMass was able to stay in striking distance for the majority of the game due to crucial plays from the defense and special teams.
Just two plays into the second half, defensive tackle Devin Baldwin sniffed out an end around and laid a big hit on Boston College’s Zay Flowers causing him to fumble. UMass’s Uchenna Ezewike recovered the fumble setting up the Minutemen on their own 44. The ensuing drive saw the Minutemen make the score 14-7 as Olson found a wide-open Rico Arnold Jr. for a 56-yard touchdown.
The third quarter was action packed as both teams each scored 21 points.
After Rico Arnold Jr.’s score, Boston College answered with a Travis Levy rushing touchdown from 20 yards out. The Eagles struck again as Grosel found receiver Trae Barry for a 44-yard touchdown.
UMass then took advantage of a muffed punt from Boston College’s Travis Levy, as Javon Batten recovered the fumble at Boston College’s one yard line. Running back Kay’ron Adams punched it in to the endzone for the Minutemen making the score 28-14.
With 3:04 to go in the third, UMass punt returner Eric Collins fumbled on the return and Boston College’s Jaiden Woodley scooped it up and scored from 41 yards out.
“Eric Collins is one of the hardest working, steadiest guys in this program,” said Bell. “In a really critical moment he made a mistake, but you know what he kept his chin up, he moved forward, and we didn’t pull him. He made an unbelievable play on a touchdown the drive later so credit to him.”
After holding the Eagles to a field goal, the Minutemen quickly worked their way down the field as Olson hit running back Ellis Merriweather for a 14-yard touchdown strike. This made the score 38-28 Boston College.
The Eagles responded quickly as Levy returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown with 8:49 to go in the 4th quarter. This made the score 45-28 and effectively sealed the deal for Boston College.
“I thought it was an unbelievably valiant effort by our guys, and I thought they played their [expletive] off.” said Coach Bell. “First and foremost, I thought those guys played hard, as long as we do that around here, we are going to have a chance.”
The Minutemen will now turn their attention towards Eastern Michigan. The game is set to be played at McGuirk Stadium, next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected]