CHESTNUT HILL MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Dave Shinskie #15 of the Boston College Eagles looks to pass in the first half against the Kent State Golden Flashes on September 11 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since September 10, 2010
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CHESTNUT HILL - Dave Shinskie had a short leash heading into Saturday's match-up against Kent State, and his early blunders didn't do anything to help his cause.
Shinskie completed 3-of-8 passes for 44 yards in the first quarter, forcing head coach Frank Spaziani to pull his starter in favor of backup Mike Marscovetra.
Unfortunately, Marscovetra couldn't work any magic either, and Spaziani went back to the drawing board (a.k.a. Shinskie).
This time around, Shinskie snapped back into form, finishing the day 18-of-27 with 214 yards and two touchdowns as Boston College defeated the Golden Flashes 26-13 at Alumni Stadium.
"We focus in on the quarterback because he gets the snap and does a lot of stuff," said Spaziani. "Dave did some nice things and he did some things we need improvement on."
"It was frustrating because we couldn't get going," Shinskie said about his early struggles. "They played great defense, they moved around a lot and they blitzed us a lot."
The Eagles' (2-0) defense made a strong stand to open the game, forcing a three-and-out and a loss of three yards for Kent State after Boston College kicker Nate Freese's opening kick rolled out of bounds inside the 10 yard-line.
Shinskie (23-for-36, 213 yards, 2 TD) and company responded with an eight-play, 38 yard drive that lasted just over eight minutes, but ended in a punt. Shinskie made two standout passes on the drive, connecting with sophomore tight end Chris Pantale (3 catches, 44 yards) on a 17-yard pass and freshman wideout Jonathan Coleman (4 catches, 52 yards) for a 22-yard catch.
Overall, Spaziani was happy with his receivers' performance.
"I could run down a litany of things that I see problems, but when I look at the receivers, I see Jonathan Coleman snatching his hands up and catching a ball nicely, I see Clyde going up making a catch," Spaziani said.
Kent State (1-1) quarterback Spencer Keith (23-for-36, 201 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) gave the Eagles their first scoring chance of the day, as his pass was intercepted by senior defensive end Alex Albright, who took it 23 yards before being brought down at Kent State's nine yard line.
"I don't know what it is, but I always seem to play better right out of the gate, and that's what happened," said Albright.
However, a stuffed rush and two bad passes by Shinskie resulted in fourth down. Freese picked up Shinskie's mistakes, making a 27-yard field goal to give the Eagles' a 3-0 lead with 7:49 left to play in the first quarter.
Boston College missed another prime opportunity when Ryan Quigley's 51-yard punt was fumbled and bounced back to Kent State's nine yard line, but Darius Butler recovered the ball for the Golden Flashes.
After Jim Noel intercepted Keith late in the first half, his first career pick, quarterback Mike Marscovetra (1-for-3, 4 yards, 1 INT) was picked off on his first pass attempt of the drive by defensive back Norman Wolfe.
The Golden Flashes turned the pick into three points as Freddy Cortez connected on a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 4:54 remaining in the half.
Not to be outdone, Freese tacked on another field goal, this time from 22 yards out, to give Boston College a 6-3 lead as time expired in the first half.
"We came in at halftime and we were a little down and a little out, but our defense was right there," Shinskie said. "But our defense, like Luke (Kuechly), they were saying 'we're behind you, we've got you. Come on,let's go'."
The Eagles responded quickly, as after nearly 36 minutes, Boston College finally reached the endzone on Shinskie's 21-yard pass to Bobby Swigert (3 catches, 44 yards) up the middle, giving Boston College a 13-3 advantage with 9:08 remaining in the third quarter.
"I saw Bobby (Swigert) put his hand up, so I under-threw it because the (defender) had his back turned and Bobby made an easy comeback to the ball," Shinskie said. "It was a great catch by Bobby, his first touchdown, and I feel good for him."
Kent State answered with three points on Cortez's 41-yard field goal to cut BC's lead to 13-6 with 5:21 to play in the third.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles moved the ball only eight yards on five plays from their own 12 to the 20.
Yet Boston College caught a break on the punt, as Quigley's 50-yard punt was fumbled by returner Dri Archer at Kent State's 31 yard line and recovered by Dominick LeGrande.
Shinskie wasted no time finding the endzone, floating a 31-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Lee for the score with 2:34 left in the third.
"Clyde made a nice catch," Spaziani said. "We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys that haven't played, a lot of guys that are just getting their feet wet, and it was good to see Clyde do that . He made a play, and that's what football players need to do."
Freese split the uprights twice in the fourth quarter, once from 31 yards out and again from 33-yards to give Boston College a twenty point advantage.
"Certainly, he's been accurate," Spaziani said about Freese, who was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts.
With victory already out if reach, Kent State scored its only touchdown of the game on a five-play, 68-yard drive that concluded with Keith's 32-yard touchdown pass to Archer.
"It was a good win," said Spaziani. "As I told the team, a lot of teams would like to be 2-0 right now. We're 2-0 and we're happy about it."
During the early stages of the game, the Eagles' defense picked up the slack for the offense, putting Boston College in position to expand on its lead in the second half.
Kuechly led the charge, totaling a team-high 10 tackles (eight unassisted) and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
"We had played Kent the past two years," Kuechly said. "We had some tape on them from this year in their first game against Murray State and we had some film on them from last year. We kind of knew what to expect, how they were going to attack us in certain situations, so I think that really helped."
Senior linebacker Mark Herzlich, playing in his second game back from his lengthy absence due to his battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, was also a force on defense, making four tackles and one for a loss.
"We took it upon ourselves to make some plays," Herzlich said. "Albright made a great pick to really start it off. Then, the offense stuttered a bit in the first half, so we needed to make sure we were solid. When one side of the ball is struggling, the other side has to pick them up."
The Eagles ground game struggled mightily in the first half, amassing only 19 yards on 14 carries. However, junior running back Montel Harris rebounded in the second half and finished the game with 80 yards rushing on 29 carries.
"The first half, we were trying to do some new things," Harris said. "Because the defensive line was doing a lot of twisting and movement, that wasn't working out, so we just went to smash-mouth football in the second half and were able to get it moving."
Boston College finished the game with 305 total yards (218 passing, 87 rushing) while Kent State amassed 205 total yards (201 passing, four rushing).
While Boston College improved in the second half, it still has a lot of work to do in a short time period.
The Eagles have a bye week and will next host No. 13 Virginia Tech, which lost to FCS opponent James Madison 21-16 on Saturday, in their ACC opener at Alumni Stadium on Saturday, September 25th.
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FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Stadium (44,500) -- Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Kent St 1-0, BC 1-0. Away Record: Kent St 0-0, BC 0-0. Neutral Record: Kent St 0-0, BC 0-0. Conference Record: Kent St 0-0, BC 0-0. Series Record: BC leads, 2-0.
Kent State opened its season with a 41-10 triumph over Murray State last Thursday night. The Golden Flashes were happy to have running back Eugene Jarvis back in the starting lineup after his 2009 season was wiped out by a kidney laceration. This contest marks the beginning of a brutal three-game road stretch for Kent State, which continues next week at Penn State and then at Miami-Ohio in the MAC opener.
Boston College won its season opener this past Saturday in a 38-20 victory over Weber State. The home crowd was ignited by the return of Eagles linebacker and cancer survivor Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who missed last season while undergoing treatment for Ewing's Sarcoma cancer, then missed a portion of the offseason with a stress fracture in his right foot. The Eagles are home for their first four games to start the season, with No. 10 Virginia Tech and Notre Dame coming to town in the coming weeks.
BC has won both meetings in the all-time series with Kent State, including a 34-7 win at home last season.
Kent State sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith was sharp against Murray State, throwing for a career-high three touchdowns and finished with 275 yards on 24- of-35 passing. Jarvis opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run four minutes into the game, however there weren't a whole lot of running lanes. Jarvis finished with just 45 yards on 11 carries, with 20 coming on one tote. As a team, the Flashes managed just 3.5 yards per carry. Still, they were able to pick up chunks of yards in the passing game. Sam Kirkland made nine grabs for 126 yards and a touchdown, while Jacquise Terry had a pair of TD receptions and finished with 73 yards.
The Kent State defense returned a lot of speed in the front seven, and that speed was on full display last weekend. The Racers were simply outmatched at the point of attack, as Kent State held them to minus-65 yards rushing as a team. The Flashes also limited Murray State to 3-of-18 on third downs in addition to notching five sacks. Two of those sacks were registered by Monte Simmons, who led the team with eight sacks a year ago. Brian Lainhart led the way with nine tackles in the week-one victory.
The Boston College offense got off to a shaky start last weekend, as the Eagles were called for a delay of game before the first snap, which was immediately followed by quarterback Dave Shinskie throwing an interception at the BC 20. However, the Eagles regrouped quickly, and Shinskie guided the offense to touchdown drives on the next three possessions to grab a 21-3 lead. It was an up-and-down performance for Shinskie, as he tossed a pair of picks and completed only 10-of-20 passes, but also averaged 18.5 yards per completion. Montel Harris powered the ground game, rushing for 115 yards on 19 carries. Harris will be the focal point of the offense after rushing for 1,457 yards and 14 TDs last year as a sophomore.
The atmosphere at Alumni Stadium was buzzing last weekend with the return of star linebacker Herzlich, who had five tackles in limited duty as he works his way back into football shape. Weber State was able to move the ball somewhat easily against BC, as the Wildcats racked up 24 first downs and held a 15- minute edge in time of possession. Senior cornerback DeLeon Gause broke the game open with a 66-yard interception return at the 3:20 mark of the third quarter, which gave the Eagles a 38-13 lead. Still, they'll need to tighten up this week against Keith and the Kent State passing game.
BC's opening weekend victory was largely uninspiring despite the final score. The defense struggled to get off the field against an FCS squad, but it could be a wakeup call for the Eagles to refocus and come out sharper on that side of the ball. Obviously, Montel Harris will provide a much bigger challenge for the Kent State defense than what it faced last week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boston College 34, Kent State 17
Saturday, September 11th, 3:30 p.m. (et).