by Mark Mullany
After holding a 14-7 lead over the Boston College Eagles, the Wildcats failed to pull off the upset, losing their season opener by a score of 24-14.
Despite being a 16-point underdog, ’Nova appeared to be the favorite when the team scored a pair of touchdowns on its first two drives.
On the first play of the season, sophomore quarterback John Robertson completed a 21-yard pass to junior wide receiver Poppy Livers.
Then, the Eagles’ defense clamped down and forced the ’Cats into a 4th and 1 situation.
Instead of punting the ball, the special teams successfully executed a punt fake that put the football in the hands of sophomore running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who then scored a touchdown off of a 47-yard run.
In the first two minutes of the game, ’Nova had a 7-0 lead.
Boston College fired back with a methodical drive down the field.
Senior running back Andre Williams led the Eagles’ first offensive drive with 40 yards on the ground.
The drive culminated in touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chase Rettig to redshirt freshman fullback Bobby Wolford, tying the score to 7-7.
The ’Cats held their poise in the first few plays of the next drive by connecting to Livers and handing the ball off to junior running back Kevin Monangai, who rushed for over 1000 yards last year.
On 2nd and 5, however, Monangai nearly turned over the ball and fumbled. Fortunately, sophomore wide receiver Mike Burke made the recovery for the Wildcats.
Facing 3rd and 14, Robertson connected with Abdur-Rahman for a 27-yard strike, resulting in a touchdown.
With 7:08 remaining in the first quarter, ’Nova controlled the contest with a lead of 14-7.
This was the last time the Wildcats scored for the day.
After an explosive first quarter, the game turned into a defensive battle. While ’Nova allowed 44 rushing yards in the opening quarter, Boston College would only add one more rushing yard for the half.
The ’Cats looked as though they would score in the second quarter, when they went from their own 35-yard line to the Eagles’ 5-yard line in seven plays. In this 64-yard drive, Robertson rushed for 54 yards. On 3rd and goal, sophomore running back Gary Underwood ran four yards, falling short of the goal line.
However, Head Coach Andy Talley opted to go for it on 4th down.
Robertson hiked the ball, dropped back and found senior wide receiver Joe Price open in the end zone, but Price dropped the one-handed catch, resulting in a turnover on downs.
’Nova’s defense forced Boston College to punt after three plays, giving the ’Cats the ball on the Eagles’ 45-yard line with 2:12 left in the half.
On the next play, Robertson attempted a flea flicker to Underwood, but Underwood underthrew the football, allowing Boston College to make the interception.
A few plays later, junior linebacker Joey Harmon forced a fumble, which was recovered by junior linebacker Emeka Ndichie.
Monangai rushed for 16 yards to close out the first half. At halftime, the Wildcats led the Eagles with a score of 14-7.
After receiving the ball to start the second half, Boston College marched down the field in seven plays, covering 65 yards. The Eagles scored on a 49-yard touchdown pass between Rettig and senior wide receiver Alex Amidon to tie the game, 14 apiece.
Later in the third quarter, Boston College moved the pigskin 60 yards in two plays under 35 seconds. Rettig completed a 34-yard pass to Wolford, and Williams followed up with a 26-yard rushing touchdown, allowing the Eagles to seize a 21-14 lead over the ’Cats.
An Eagles’ field goal and three turnovers by the Wildcats would seal the victory for Boston College.
On an early drive in the fourth quarter, Monangai fumbled the football, which eventually led to Boston College connecting on the game’s only field goal, furthering its lead over ’Nova, 24-14.
Even though the ’Cats had moderate success running the no-huddle offense, their last two drives ended in interceptions, making the final score 24-14, favoring Boston College over ’Nova.
Robertson threw 158 yards and one touchdown pass on 16-of-25 throws and led the team in rushing with 94 yards. In the first quarter, Robertson was a perfect 4-of-4 and entered halftime throwing 6-of-8.
Abdur-Rahman had 117 all-purpose yards and two all-purpose touchdowns.
Leading Wildcat receivers was Liver, who totaled up 90 yards for the day.
Along with his forced fumble, Harmon had a team-high 15 tackles, earning him CAA Defensive Player of the Week. This is the second time Harmon has achieved this honor.
Senior linebacker Antoine Lewis and junior cornerback Joe Sarnese each contributed eight tackles, and senior cornerback Craig James reined in five tackles.
This upcoming Saturday, the Wildcats will continue their road trip when they face Fordham at the Bronx.
Following that, the ’Cats will hold their home opener at Villanova Stadium, hosting Stony Brook, who knocked ’Nova out of the FCS playoffs last year.