CHESTNUT HILL - On paper, Boston College played a relatively sound game. Chase Rettig (24-for-44) threw for 375 yards and Andre Williams rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
Unfortunately, the games aren't played on paper, and when it mattered most, the Eagles offense and defense couldn't come up with the necessary big plays, losing to Northwestern, 24-17, in their season opener on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
"They came in there, and they did what they had to do. They scored more points than we did," said Boston College third-year head coach Frank Spaziani. "I think in general, we couldn't run the ball the way we need to run the ball, and they had too many yards on the ground, [and] played defense. We made too many mistakes."
Northwestern (1-0) racked up 227 net rushing yards to BC's 104, marking the first time since October of 2009 that the Eagles' defense has allowed over 200 yards on the ground, which has been an area of specialty for the team in recent years. BC out-passed Northwestern, 375-197, and outgained the Wildcats, 479-424, in total yards.
"[Our] kids fought hard and played until the end, no doubt about it, but we need to play smarter and we need to play with more efficiency," Spaziani said."
BC (0-1) drew first blood on a 19-yard chip-shot field goal from kicker Nate Freese with 12:49 to go in the opening quarter. The field goal capped off a five-play, 71-yard drive that spanned 2:11. Williams had the big play of the drive, bursting free for a 69-yard scamper down the left sideline on the very first play of the game.
Jeff Budzien knotted the score for Northwestern with his 43-yard field goal at the 7:01 mark in the first quarter, closing out a nine-play, 50 yard drive that lasted just over three minutes with three points.
Williams scored the first touchdown of the game, and the first of his career, on a six-yard outside run with 8:03 to go in the first half, putting BC up 10-7. The score was Williams' 105th career carry and put him over the century mark in rushing.
Kain Colter (17-for-24, 197 yards; 23 carries, 71 rushing yards, TD) led his troops down the field on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that lasted 3:07 and capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 10-10 with 38 seconds left in the half.
Northwestern carried its momentum into the third quarter, punching the ball into the end zone on another 10-play, 80-yard drive spanning three minutes, finalized by a five-yard TD run by running back Mike Trumpy (15 carries, 85 yards, TD).
Adonis Smith hammered the nail in the coffin on a one-yard touchdown run with 9:24 to go, putting Northwestern on top 24-10, causing many of the 37,561 fans at Alumni Stadium to vacate the premises.
Rettig and company mounted a late rally, charging 80 yards down the field on 10 plays in 3:24 for a touchdown, a one-yard run for Williams, and stopped the Wildcats with nearly 1:40 left in the game.
With the ball and a chance to tie, the Eagles started out at their own 36 yardline, but Rettig put together a healthy eight-play, 40 yard drive to bring BC to the Wildcats' 19 yardline.
A false start with less than 15 seconds to go cost the Eagles dearly, as not only did they have to move back five yards, but 10 seconds ticked off the clock, leaving BC with one last chance to tie the score.
Rettig took the snap and rolled right, but the sophomore gunslinger waited two long to throw the ball and was taken down by Vince Brown at the Northwestern 24.
Luke Kuechly starred for BC on defense (per usual), recording 18 tackles (9 solo) and interception a Colter pass in the second quarter that led to Williams' first touchdown run. With his big day, Kuechly extended his stream of 10 or more tackles in a game to an FBS-leading 23 straight games. Kevin Pierre-Louis had 16 tackles (7 solo) for BC.
Boston College now shifts its focus to the UCF Knights, who they face in Week 2 in Florida.