WEST POINT,N.Y.–It started out badly and ended with even a worse outcome for Boston College in a football season that has turned from sunny and bright to dank and dreary.
And it’s not even Halloween.
This was the kind of day it was for the Eagles on Saturday.
The Eagles played in front of their first sell-out crowd of the season at Army’s Michie Stadium, with a good portion of the crowd of 39,492 composed of BC fans.
Interim BC athletic director John Kane watched the parade of cadets ceremony on Saturday morning sitting next to Army athletic director Boo Corrigan–one of the leading candidates to come to BC as Gene DeFilippo’s replacement.
Corrigan, for what it was worth, was wearing a yellow shirt and a maroon tie. As of Saturday afternoon he had not been offered the job. But sources familiar with the situation said that he would definitely be more than interested if the call came.
BC, as it has done throughout the season, had huge defensive lapses and fell behind 14-7 in the first quarter against an Army team which produced a pair of 9 play, 70 plus yard drives.
And as they had done all season, they came back and then allowed Army back in the game as it overcame a 24-14 second quarter BC lead.
Army, as it has done all season, fumbled away the ball twice in the first half, which killed potential Black Knight drives.
BC, which had a running attack in name only, went to Andre Williams for redemption of sorts for its deservedly criticized ground game.
All Williams did was break off a school record 99-yard TD run, pick up 161 yards rushing in the first half and score a pair of TDs which helped the Eagles overcome their early defensive breakdowns. He finished with a career-best 191 yards
All of this was a set up for a game BC needed desperately to win. And until the final 45 seconds it appeared as if they had done just that. They even appeared to have come up with the rarest of plays this season–a fourth down defensive stop at their own 1 yard line in the final 2 minutes.
But then it turned on the Eagles.
As it had done against Miami, as it had done against Northwestern and Clemson this season.
And the way it did in games against Duke, Northwestern and Wake Forest last year.
No fairy tale ending on this afternoon for BC. That changed in the time it took Army quarterback Trent Steelman to slice through a gap in the line for 29 yards into the end zone which turned a 31-27 BC lead into a 34-31 Eagle loss.
The 1-3 team became 1-4 and the Cadets, a team that was shut down by Stony Brook 23-3 a week, had won its first game of the season and looked unstoppable in doing it.
It certainly looked that way to BC, because the Eagles couldn’t do it for more than a play.
Consider some truly frightening defensive numbers posted by BC.
Total yards allowed: 595
Total rushing yards allowed: 516.
Number of plays run by Army: 92
Army Time of possession: 37:38.
Three Army backs: Raymond Maples (184 yards, Steelman (141 yards 3 TDs) and Larry Dixon 128 yards, 1 TD) all rushed for more than 100 yards. Dixon averaged almost a first down (9.8 yards) each time he carried the ball.
The Eagles had some excuses–Two of their staring defensive linemen, Brian Mihalik and Kaleb Ramsey and another Dillion Quinn did not play because of injuries and Kevin Pierre-Louis, arguably the Eagles’ best linebacker also didn’t play because of an injury.
But injuries are part of big boy football. You have to deal with them and the Eagles tried. But they didn’t do a very good job.
What was even more frustrating, amazing, disappointing (choose 1 or all) was that the Eagles admitted they basically knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop Army.
“We were ready for them, we were where we were supposed to be,” said middle linebacker Nick Clancy who had 15 tackles. “We just didn’t do the job. It’s as simple as that.”
You could second and third guess decisions and mistakes made all day and all night. Why take a delay of game penalty which put BC punter Gerald Levano further back in his own end zone just before Army’s game-winning TD?.
When a shanked 34 yard punt followed, Army took over on the BC 38 and scored in 3 plays
And there was the fumble out-of-bounds at the BC 5. On the ensuing kickoff. Had the kick off gone of bounds on its own, BC would have taken control of the ball 35 yards further up field and well…
You want more frustration?
The Eagles’ offense again posted another 30 plus point effort, with a solid 420 yard effort, including a nice balance of 186 rushing to 234 passing, although those totals may be skewered by Williams’ 99 yard TD run.
In the end none of it mattered. The Eagles had lost again and the cries for Coach Frank Spaziani’s job will be at a rock-concert level this week.
As tough as this game was for BC, it was probably like a recess period for what the Eagles must deal with next week when they travel to Florida State as they pick up their ACC competition.
Spaziani cut to the chase quickly in his post-game press conference “There’s no place to go but up,” said the embattled BC coach.
With Florida State next week and a Georgia Tech which plays a faster version of the kind of offense Army ran at the Eagles on Saturday, BC might may still have to climb a bit further.
None of its good right now and it doesn’t look like it will get better any sooner.
And for the voices who say they want heads right now–specifically Spaziani’s, we have a simple question.
And what will that do? Create stability? Make the defense play better?
It is what it is and it is not good. Let the season play itself out, bring in a new athletic director and go from there.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.