CHESTNUT HILL - If Boston College wanted to get back on track this season, it had to start with a win against ACC foe Maryland. Plain and simple.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Eagles couldn't get the much-needed victory.
Terapins freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien completed 26-of-39 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns as Maryland defeated Boston College 24-21 at Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"Congratulations to Maryland," said Eagles head coach Frank Spaziani. "They did a good job. Obviously we are disappointed. We practiced well, we made some progress during the week. It just didn't translate into a victory. That is where we are at."
The loss was Boston College's fifth in a row, dropping the Eagles to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the ACC.
"It's not like the players aren't working," Spaziani said. "They practiced hard and well. We're making some errors that we need not be making because we have very, very, very little margin for error."
Maryland (5-2, 2-1 ACC) opened the game with a five-play, seven-yard drive that resulted in a punt, setting the Eagles up with a first and 10 on their own 26 yard line.
However, Boston College and true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig (18-of-33, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) couldn't work any magic, as two bad passes following a nine-yard run up the middle on first down by junior running back Montel Harris (27 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD) forced the Eagles to go three-and-out.
This time around, the Terapins drove the ball down the field on a 13-play, 48-yard drive that resulted in O'Brien's nine-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith (8 catches, 33 yards), giving Maryland a 7-0 lead with 5:18 left in the first quarter.
On the drive, Maryland had one third down conversions and two fourth down conversions, including one in the red zone.
After completing just 1-of-3 passes in the first quarter, Rettig turned the tables and led the Eagles on a 15-play, 75-yard drive down the field and found freshman receiver Bobby Swigert (5 catches, 76 yards) for a three-yard touchdown that tied the game with 13:40 left in the second quarter. It was Boston College's longest touchdown drive of the season.
Unfortunately, the Eagles success was short-lived, as several key mistakes allowed Maryland to score two unanswered touchdowns before halftime.
After a Harris fumble on the Eagles own 38 yard line, the Terapins put the ball in the endzone in nine plays, the last of which was a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Taylor with 7:30 left.
Then, after Maryland intercepted Rettig inside Eagles territory, O'Brien found Kerry Boykins for a six-yard score that put the Terapins up 21-7 heading into halftime.
Boston College had a big scare with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter when defensive back Wes Davis went down hard and didn't get up. Trainers brought the cart over, but paramedics brought a stretcher over that they used to take Davis to an ambulance.
Reports later indicated that Davis suffered a neck injury. He had full movement but was taken to St. Elizabeth's hospital for more evaluation.
Following the injury, Terapins kicker Travis Baltz tacked on a 26-yard field goal, the only score of the quarter, giving Maryland a dominant 24-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After being shutout for nearly two quarters, Boston College scored its second touchdown of the game on Montel Harris' one yard rush up the middle with 11:20 left in the fourth, trimming Maryland's lead to 24-14.
Then, with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter, Harris darted four yards up the middle for the score (PAT Good), cutting the Terps lead to 24-21.
"I think the line played very well today," said Harris. "They were able to give me some holes at times. We just have to keep working and we'll keep getting better throughout the year."
Maryland proceeded to go three-and-out and was forced to punt, giving the Eagles a golden opportunity to complete the comeback.
After a 26-yard punt return from Harris, Boston College had a first and 10 at Maryland's 48 yard line. Freshman running back Andre WIlliams rushed the ball one yard on first down and Rettig found tight end Chris Pantale for a six yard gain.
Unfortunately, Rettig missed the target on his next two passes and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
The Terapins used the opportunity to run the clock down, but could not convert on a fourth and one on the Eagles' 36 yard line.
"I said to myself, 'How much am I really gaining?'," said Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen. "We were on about the 28 or 30 yard line and we needed six inches. We should make that. I didn't hesitate on that call."
With 1:19 left in the fourth, Boston College faced a fourth and one of its own at their own 44 yard line, but Harris couldn't convert.
"We've got to drive it, knock it back, so it's not close," Spaziani said about the Eagles' last stand. "That's the little winning edge that we need and kudos to Maryland, they stopped us."
And with that, the Eagles' valiant comeback attempt fell short.
"We felt very confident," said Rettig. "I felt we could control the ball and could have executed what we planned on executing all week. Just some minor setbacks, whether it be a penalty or not executing a play, a turnover. I'm not about to get down on the guys. We all know that in order to get it done we have to come together."
Maryland finished the game with 216 total yards (178 passing, 36 rushing) while Boston College managed only 289 yards (189 passing, 100 rushing).
Luke Kuechly led the game with 15 tackles, but that was overshadowed by Boston College's defensive struggles.
"Any loss is frustrtating, no matter how it happens," he said. "After five losses each game gets magnified, so we have to concentrate on this week and get a win this week.
The Eagles allowed Maryland to convert 10-of-19 third downs while only converting 6-of-15 themselves.
"Third down, you need to get off the field," Kuechly said. "It's a crucial down for defense and we had some spots where we could've gotten off the but again we let up a play here and a play there and it hurt. We need to work on that this week too."
That being said, third down conversions aren't the only issue plaguing the Eagles defense.
"I don't think you can put a finger on it really," said Eagles senior linebacker Mark Herzlich, who tallied eight tackles. "They made good plays sometimes. People were out of position on defense. It goes both ways. Basically we just have to be technically sound and be in the right spot."
Another major factor in the Eagles' loss was their three turnovers in the game (two interceptions, one fumble).
"Obviously three turnovers to zero was a tilting factor in the game," said Spaziani. "We just don't have that winning edge right now. Until we get it, we're going to be doing the horseshoe thing...getting close."
Boston College will attempt to snap it's dismal five-game losing streak when it hosts ACC rival Clemson next Saturday at Alumni Stadium (12 p.m. ET, ACC Network).
Junior running back Montel Harris became the fourth Eagle to amass 3,000 rushing yards in his career. The Jacksonville, FL native finished with 116 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. Harris recorded his 17th game with at least 100 yards rushing, third most all-time. He is also the first Eagle to reach 3,000 yards in his junior year...Sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly extended the nation's longest streak of consecutive games with 10 or more tackles to 16 games. The Cincinnati, Ohio native racked up 15 tackles...Sophomore tight end Chris Pantale established career-bests with six catches and 56 yards...36,078 fans attended Saturday afternoon's game at Alumni Stadium...Boston College falls to 5-3 all-time against Maryland. Saturday's 24-21 defeat was the first loss at home for the Eagles in the series.