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.