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Boston College 26, Kent State 13: Shinskie rebounds from poor start, leads Eagles to victory

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.