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CHESTNUT HILL - In order for Boston College to extend its season into December, it needed to manage at least one win in its final two games. As expected, they didn't delay the process.
Montel Harris rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and true-freshman running back Andre Williams rushed for 108 yards on 10 carries as Boston College bested ACC rival Virginia 17-13 in the Eagles' home finale at Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"My hats off to the Virginia players," said Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani. "They are well coached. They played hard. They had a good scheme. Obviously, you saw it went down to the wire. I've got to give our kids and coaches a tremendous amount of credit."
The win made Boston College bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season. The Eagles won their first two games, only to lose five in a row. However, they have bounced back by winning four in a row.
"The players and myself, we didn't start the year out to be 6-6," Spaziani said. "We certainly have higher aspirations every year around here. Are we happy now to have won four in a row? Absolutely."
The last time two Eagles running backs had 100 yards in the same game was when L.V. Whitworth totaled 118 rushing yards and Andre Callender had 105 against Duke on November 11, 2006.
"I say it every week, Montel works hard," Spaziani said. "He really is a good back. You have to be exactly right with him and they had him contained a little bit in there but he was able to slither through. He did a good job."
Spaziani also praised fellow back Andre Williams for his patience and performance.
"I said to Andre, and I said to a couple of the players, that's why you keep working hard as a backup, whether you are two or three or whatever on the depth chart," said Spaziani. "That's why. Because you will be called on and you don't know when and you don't know where. He was ready. You have to be ready for that opportunity."
True-freshman quarterback Chase Rettig completed 10-of-19 passes for 152 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"He made some nice plays," Spaziani added. "He made a couple of nice throws. He managed the game correctly."
Senior quarterback Marc Verica had a good day under center for Virginia (4-7, 1-6 ACC), throwing for 284 yards (31-of-49) but did throw an interception. Sophomore tailback Perry Jones racked up 69 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Boston College opened the game with an eight-play, 32-yard drive that spanned four minutes and seven seconds.
Harris rushed for 19 yards on four carries in the game-opening drive for the Eagles, who moved the chains twice on the drive, but stalled out on their third set of downs and were forced to punt.
Virginia responded with an impressive 16-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in a 27-yard field goal from Cavaliers kicker Robert Randolph with 4:39 left in the first quarter. Verica (6-of-9, 40 yards) and Jones (four carries, 30 yards) paced Virginia on its opening drive.
The Eagles caught a break on the ensuing Cavaliers kickoff when Chris Hinkebein muffed the kick, setting Boston College up with a first-and-10 on Virginia's 44 yard line.
After driving the ball 28 yards on nine plays, Boston College faced a fourth and goal from the Virginia six as time expired in the first quarter.
Eagles kicker Nate Freese made a 23-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game 3-3.
Nevertheless, Boston College couldn't fend off the Cavaliers, who went 60 yards on 13 plays in five and a half minutes and capped off the drive on Jones' one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-inches, putting Virginia up 10-3 with 9:25 to play before the break.
With 2:21 left before halftime, the Eagles got the ball back and made the most of the possesion, driving 82 yards in 56 seconds to tie the game 10-10. The game-tying score came on a 39-yard pass from Rettig to freshman receiver Amidon with 1:25 left in the second quarter.
"I saw that their safety was not playing too deep," said Rettig. "He was kind of in the middle. Alex made a great break around the corner and I just tried to keep it up-field as much as I could. Everything ended up working out and he made a great play."
But after driving 64 yards on seven plays in one minute and 21 seconds, Randolph made a 40-yard field goal in windy conditions to give the Cavaliers a 13-10 lead at halftime.
Rettig completed 7-of-10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown while Harris rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries in the first half.
Verica was 16-of-22 for 137 yards in the first half and Jones amassed 49 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
"I don't think we came out how we needed to," said sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly, who extended the nation's longest streak of games with 10 or more tackles to 20 games with 15 on Saturday. "We came in at halftime and got thins fixed. We did a little better job of containing the ball in the second half that led to a better showing from the defense."
Neither team put any points on the board early in the third quarter, but Boston College changed that with three minutes left.
Harris darted into the endzone on a four-yard touchdown run as Boston College took its first lead of the day, 17-14, with three minutes left in the third quarter. The touchdown score was set up by a 59-yard run on the prior play from freshman running back Andre Williams.
"It definitely made me feel more comfortable," Rettig said about the go-ahead drive. "Coincidence-wise, it was a huge boost It made me realize that when we needed to, we'd go ahead and do it. I think that sparked our offense and the whole team rallied a bit."
It was a bitter-sweet quarter for Boston College, though, as Harris injured his left knee and would not return.
"They took him to get an MRI," said Spaziani, who did not have any additional information on Harris' condition immediately after the game.
Harris finished the day with 3,600 career rushing yards and moved into second place on Boston College's all-time rushing list.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was a whirlwind of turnovers, with both quarterbacks throwing interceptions.
Verica was picked off by Eagles senior linebacker Mark Herzlich with 12:15 left in the game while Virginia's Rodney McLeod intercepted Rettig at the 9:35 mark.
The Cavaliers regrouped on their second possesion, moving the ball deep into Boston College territory. Virginia faced a fourth and goal from the Eagles' eight with 4:52 left with a chance to cut the deficit to one on a field goal. However, Randolph missed the 25-yard attempt wide right, giving the Eagles a prime opportunity to run out the clock.
Virginia got the ball back late and had a chance for a game-winning Hail Mary with three seconds left, but it was knocked down just short of the endzone by Kuechly.
"It feels great," Kuechly said about breaking up the final play. "The past couple games have come down to the wire. I joke around with the coaches that we're making them get older and taking years off their life because these games come down to the wire."
In the end, the players were just happy to get that all-important sixth win.
"It's definitely good, but you're not satisfied until the end of the season," said Kuechly. "If we keep winning, and that's all we're concerned about is continuing to win. You can never be satisfied because once you're satisfied, everything else in the future kind of goes away."
In Boston College's immediate future is Syracuse, where the Eagles will travel to next Saturday for the regular season finale at the Carrier Dome.
Saturday's attendance was listed at 39,263...Boston College is the fifth team in ACC history to win four games in a row after losing four straight in the same season...Boston College improved to 5-0 in the all-time series against the Cavaliers...There were 89 minute and 59 seconds of game play between the last time the Eagles defense gave up a touchdown (at Wake Forest) and the one allowed in the second quarter against Virginia...Luke Kuechly ranks ninth on Boston College's all-time rushing list.....Freshman QB Chase Rettig threw for over 100 yards in the first half for the first time in his career...Redshirt freshman kicker Nate Freese moved into second on the BC single season list for field goals with 17. He connected on a 23-yard attempt in the first quarter.
CHESTNUT HILL - Boston College junior tailback Montel Harris darted into the endzone on a four-yard touchdown run as Boston College took its first lead of the day, 17-14, with three minutes left in the third quarter.
The touchdown score was set up by a 59-yard run on the prior play from freshman running back Andre Williams.
It was a bitter-sweet quarter for Boston College, as Harris injured his left knee and will not return. Harris finished the game with 114 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Harris now has 3,600 career rushing yards and moved into second place on Boston College's all-time rushing list.
CHESTNUT HILL - Boston College kicker Nate Freese made a 23-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game 3-3, but the Eagles were unable to score again for nearly 14 minutes after that and ultimately trailed 13-10 entering halftime.
Boston College couldn't fend off the Cavaliers, who went 60 yards on 13 plays in five and a half minutes on the ensuing drive and capped it off on Jones' one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-inches, putting Virginia up 10-3 with 9:25 to play before the break.
Boston College got the ball back with 2:21 left before halftime, but they made the most of the possesion, driving 82 yards in 56 seconds to tie the game 10-10. The game-tying score came on a 39-yard pass from Chase Rettig to freshman receiver Alex Amidon with 1:25 left in the second quarter.
But after driving 64 yards on seven plays in one minute and 21 seconds, Randolph made a 40-yard field goal in windy conditions to give the Cavaliers a 13-10 lead at halftime.
Eagles true-freshman quarterback Chase Rettig completed 7-of-10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown while junior running back Montel Harris rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries in the first half.
Virginia senior quarterback Marc Verica was 16-of-22 for 137 yards in the first half and junior running back Perry Jones amassed 49 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
CHESTNUT HILL - Virginia kicker Robert Randolph split the uprights on a 27-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the first quarter to give the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead, which they would hold through the remainder of the quarter.
Boston College opened up the game on an eight-play, 32 yard drive in which it had two first downs, but the Eagles came up short on their third set of downs and were forced to punt.
Cavaliers quarterback Marc Verica completed 6-of-9 passes for 40 yards to lead Virginia on a 16-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in Randolph's field goal.
The Eagles caught a break on the ensuing Cavaliers kickoff when Chris Hinkebein muffed the kick, setting Boston College up with a first-and-10 on Virginia's 44 yard line. Boston College drove the ball to the six yard line before time expired in the first.
Eagles junior tailback Montel Harris had 42 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter. Sophomore tailback amassed 30 yards on four carries in the quarter for Virginia.
CHESTNUT HILL - Who would have thought that this very same Eagles team would be one win away from becoming bowl eligible?
After winning its first two games against softies FCS Weber State and Kent State, Boston College (5-5) dropped five games in a row, only to win its next three games against ACC opponents.
With a win today against Virginia (4-6), Boston College would become bowl eligible for the 12th consecutive season.
It's not a guarantee, though, as the Cavaliers have had their fair share of solid performances. After defeating Richmond 34-13 in its season opener and giving USC a scare in Pasadena (the Cavaliers lost 17-14), Virginia went on to lose three of its next four.
However, the Cavaliers made a statement, beating East Carolina 48-21 and then upsetting Miami 24-19 before losing to Duke and Maryland in back-to-back weeks.
Clearly, Virginia's season has been a roller coaster to say the least, and with a trip to a bowl on the line for Boston College, expect to see a highly competitive game in Chestnut Hill.
If you don't have a ticket or are out of town, today's game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on WEEI. Kickoff is officially slated for 12:01 p.m.
Week 12 in the ACC is the second-to-last week of the regular season, and the last weekend of solely in-conference matchups (the teams go out of conference in Week 12 -- Boston College is traveling to Syracuse). As such, it's a key weekend, with both the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions still up for grabs (though Virginia Tech has a solid grasp on the latter).
Florida State (7-2, 5-2 ACC), currently atop the Atlantic Division, travels to take on Maryland (7-3, 4-2). The Terrapins, winners in three of their past four games, sit just one game behind the Seminoles.
The marquee matchup pits the ACC's two ranked teams against each other, with the Hokies traveling south to Miami to battle the Hurricanes.
Complete lines for Week 11 in the ACC (using BoDog's odds, via Odds Shark):
Virginia at Boston College (-7)
N.C. State at North Carolina (-3)
Duke at Georgia Tech (-12)
Clemson (-13.5*) at Wake Forest
No. 14 Virginia Tech (-3) at No. 24 Miami
Florida State (-4) at Maryland
Virginia Tech -- winners of eight straight -- is facing a Miami team that was blown out by FSU at home and just three weeks ago lost to UVA ... and only laying three points? That's where my money would go.
As for the B.C. game: UVA has already lost at Duke this year, by seven. The Eagles seem to be hitting their stride these last few weeks, having won three straight, but they've been close, with B.C. winning by an average of seven points. I think the Eagles will win, but look for the Cavaliers to cover.
Boston College will go for its season-high fourth-straight win on Saturday when the Eagles play host to the Virginia Cavaliers at Alumni Stadium at 12:00 p.m. ET.
It's a key ACC battle for both sides, as B.C. is at 3-4 in the Atlantic Division -- while that leaves it an impossibility to catch Florida State (5-2 in the ACC), with just two games left in the season (and only one conference game), the Eagles are just only wins away from becoming bowl eligible at 7-5 overall. Ready the excitement of the ... Fight Hunger Bowl!
Virginia (4-6, 1-5 ACC), meanwhile, enters having lost their past two games, including a 55-48 loss to Duke on Nov. 6. And dating back to last season, UVA has dropped five straight on the road.
GAME NOTES: The Boston College Eagles are soaring high at the present moment, and will look to continue their impressive resurgence this Saturday afternoon when the Virginia Cavaliers come to Alumni Stadium for a tough ACC battle.
It has been a rough year for the Cavs, who come into this game with just a 1-5 mark in conference play. Surprisingly, that lone win came against Miami, one of the better teams in the conference, by a 24-19 margin. However, outside of that victory, it has been one loss after another for this squad, which comes into this contest with a two-game skid. The most recent loss was a lopsided 42-23 decision against Maryland.
As for the Eagles, they have been able to turn their season around when most people had written them off. Boston College suffered through an embarrassing five-game slide, which left the team winless in conference action after four games. However, the Eagles stayed the course and since that skid have won three straight games to even their overall ledger at 5-5. None of the three wins have been easy, as BC just narrowly defeated Duke this past weekend, 21-16, on the road. Nonetheless a win is a win, and with one more the Eagles will be bowl eligible.
The Eagles have a great chance of grabbing that sixth victory because they take on a Virginia squad that they have enjoyed success against throughout the years. Boston College has won all four matchups against the Cavs, including a 14-10 decision this past season.
The Cavaliers went into halftime this past weekend against Maryland down 21-20, but the second half saw Virginia's offense fall apart, as the Cavs suffered a 19-point setback. The majority of the success for this offense came through the air, as Marc Verica threw one of the team's two touchdown passes and finished with 265 yards. However, the signal caller made a couple mistakes that hurt Virginia in the long run. If Virginia was going to enjoy any success in this matchup it had to come from the passing attack, because the Terrapins shut down Virginia's ground game, holding the Cavs to just 92 yards on 3.2 yards per attempt. Usually it is the rushing attack that carries this offense, as the Cavaliers are averaging 147.7 ypg on the ground. Keith Payne, who has scored 14 of the team's 16 rushing TDs, has been the main option, rumbling for 741 yards, while Perry Jones has given this offense a boost with 568 yards.
The offense put forth one solid half against Maryland this past weekend, which is more than could be said about the defense, which looked lost throughout all four quarters. Virginia only allowed 136 rushing yards, which isn't horrible considering Maryland tallied just 3.8 yards per attempt. However, four of Maryland's TDs came via the run, showing that Virginia struggled against the Terps' rushing attack when it mattered most. Adding on to the problems for Virginia was the play in the secondary, as the defensive backfield for coach Mike London was torched for 289 yards. Virginia's inability to stop the run was not surprising, because opponents' rushing attacks have been a thorn in the side of Virginia's defense all season, racking up 202.5 ypg. However, because of that coach London cannot afford to see his secondary begin to show weaknesses, or else this unit will have a hard time stopping any offense.
It wasn't pretty, but the Eagles were able to claim their third straight win with a slim, 21-16 decision over Duke this past Saturday. Chase Rettig missed a few easy passes, but all in all the young signal caller managed the game, and finished as the star of the contest, thanks to his 230 yards and two touchdowns. A nice complement to the passing attack was the ground game, which was consistent throughout the matchup. BC racked up 126 yards in the win, but the majority of that damage was done by Montel Harris who earned 109 of those yards on 23 carries, while also finding the end zone once. This type of performance by the ground game is imperative for Rettig, who is learning on the fly, while filling in for Dave Shinskie. However, even though the rushing attack is averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt, Harris has still managed to rush for 1,129 yards and seven touchdowns, which is a testament to how good he really is. If Harris can continue to take pressure off Rettig, the quarterback might be able to close out the year on a high note.
Boston College was not overwhelming offensively, but did just enough, while the defense did the rest to secure the victory. Even though Duke threw for 307 yards in the matchup, the Eagles were relentless throughout the game, and used its power up front to force two key fumbles and hold Duke to just four yards on 24 carries. Bottling up Duke on the ground however, is not surprising. Boston College is one of the top defense's in terms of defending the run and comes into this weekend holding teams to just 74.6 ypg on 2.5 yards per attempt. Overall this unit has done a commendable job, and has been the real reason why Boston College has won three straight games, because during this winning streak this unit has surrendered just 39 total points. The secret to success for this unit has been its ability to force turnovers, as the Eagles come into this weekend with an impressive 28 takeaways.
The Eagles have rode the play of their defense through this outstanding run, and should continue to do so this weekend against Virginia. The Cavaliers are weak offensively, and should find it tough to post many points against the surging Eagles.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boston College 27, Virginia 13
Saturday, November 20th, 12:00 p.m. (et)