Ben Glines breaks out in Parents’ Weekend shootout win over Temple
By Charlie Whitney
Following Boston College’s ugly defeat at the hands of the Purdue Boilermakers last week, all Eagles fans wanted to see this week was a win. And it was a win that they were rewarded with this Saturday over the Temple Owls. An ugly, costly, and slightly unsettling win, but a win nonetheless. Given what we’ve seen from the Eagles the past few weeks, that should be enough for now.
This game was marked by missed opportunities, strange gifts, a lack of discipline, and the occasional nice play. These themes were set from the start. Temple’s first drive resulted in a turnover on downs following BC defensive end Zach Allen’s deflection of Temple quarterback Anthony Russo’s pass at the line of scrimmage. From there the Eagles drove down the field in an inconsistent, discordant drive that was aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Owls, one of their several undisciplined penalties during the game. It appeared that the possession had come to an end when Eagles’ quarterback Anthony Brown made an ill-advised throw into double coverage in the end zone that originally seemed to be intercepted by Temple’s streaking safety. Upon review, the pass was ruled incomplete and the Eagles had a second life. Brown nearly overthrew a wide open Tommy Sweeney in the end zone, who made a nice bobbled catch, masking Brown’s early inconsistencies. This strange pattern of unusual plays continued throughout the first half.
On Temple’s ensuing drive, running back Ryquell Armstead burst through the Eagles’ front seven and was gone for the seventy-five yard touchdown, one of four he scored on the day. Things only got worse from there for the Eagles, as on the kickoff following Armstead’s touchdown, typically stellar BC return man Michael Walker muffed the kick and Temple returned it for an easy seven, putting the Owls up 14-7. The Eagles’ propensity to relinquish explosive plays and their special teams inconsistencies are issues that have reared their ugly heads all season and in the early going appeared be ticketing the Eagles to another loss.
The Eagles offensive response was a microcosm of how the entire game was played. They slowly made their way down the field with a strange mix of play action passes, end arounds with AJ Dillon, and old fashioned runs up the gut with the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year. With the help of a late hit penalty on the Owls, the Eagles were eventually able to approach the goal line where Anthony Brown exploited a busted coverage and hit an open Jeff Smith for the touchdown, but the extra point was no good. 14-13 Owls.
The BC defense did a nice job of forcing a three and out on Temple’s next drive, but the Eagles were unable to take advantage of their defense’s stellar play, as Anthony Brown slipped and fell while rolling out on third down and the Eagles were forced to punt.
After a few back and forth drives where neither team did much of anything, the Owls put together a complete possession where they heavily featured wide receiver Isaiah Wright, who ended the day with seven receptions for 114 yards. Eventually Ryquell Anderson scored another touchdown giving Temple an eight point lead. On the Eagles next drive Anthony Brown missed an open receiver on third down, perhaps highlighting a rocky first half from the redshirt sophomore.
Finally things appeared to be turning in the Eagles direction as cornerback Hamp Cheevers intercepted Anthony Russo, leading to a two-yard AJ Dillon touchdown run. Almost immediately after, Russo was intercepted again by Taj-Amir Torres leading to a 45 yard touchdown run for AJ Dillon and the Eagles took a 31-21 lead into halftime.
After a ugly first half, the Eagles should have felt pretty happy taking a lead into halftime. Little did they know, things would take a major turn at the start of a second half. A few snaps after running back AJ Dillon left the game due to what appeared to be an ankle injury (he would not return), and wide receiver Kobay White suffered the same fate. A fumbled snap on fourth down gave the Owls the ball in BC territory. Suddenly without their best player and on the brink of seeing their lead shrink to single digits, it was a dark few minutes for Eagles fans. Fortunately, Zach Allen made his name heard again by forcing a fumble Russo giving the ball back to the Eagles.
The Eagles then marched down the field with the aid of the second targeting call on Temple during the afternoon and eventually used a version of the famous “Philly Special” that featured wide receiver Jeff Smith throwing a touchdown to Anthony Brown. Temple then drove the ball down the field and who but Ryquell Anderson scored his third touchdown of the day for the Owls, making the score 38-28 Eagles.
Without AJ Dillon, the Eagles offense looked dead for their next few drives. His backup Ben Glines did a stellar job for the most part, finishing with 23 carries for 120 yards, but several avoidable penalties and missed opportunities prevented the Eagles from putting any more points on the board for the time being.
The Temple offense didn’t do much in the second half but were able to put together a nice drive marked by several third down conversions, eventually ending in Ryquell Anderson’s fourth and final touchdown of the day, cutting the Temple deficit to three. Getting off the field on third down has been an issue for the Eagles in the past few weeks and was almost a source of their downfall on Saturday as their lead almost disappeared early in the fourth quarter.
With the ball back, a score for BC would go a long way towards putting this game on ice. Dillon’s absence significantly reduced the offense’s power and balance. But once again, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Temple kept a drive alive for the Eagles and Ben Glines punched the ball into the endzone from the one-yard line putting Boston College up 45-35, essentially securing the win. Given BC’s stark talent advantage, this game probably should not have been this close, but as previously stated, the Eagles just needed a win and should be happy that they escaped with even that. Temple was visibly undisciplined throughout the game, evidenced by two targeting calls and several unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Granted that the Eagles were without AJ Dillon and Kobay White for the majority of the second half, but an effort like Saturday’s will not be enough to beat anyone left on the schedule for BC.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio seemed cautiously bullish of his team’s performance. In his post game press conference he stated that his “team was strong” and that they “played with a lot of resolve”. With regard to the injuries the Eagles had to deal with in the second half Addazio thought the Eagles “showed some great grit” and stayed physical throughout the game. However, he acknowledged improvements need to be made on third down defensively and that the offensive playbook needs to be diversified and cannot continue to be so predictable. Addazio had no information to share with respects to Dillon’s injury status.
Perhaps the silver lining of a rather difficult day to analyze was the emergence of running back Ben Glines. It can be argued that Glines saved the day for the Eagles by being the catalyst of any and all offense they displayed with Dillon sidelined. Addazio called him the “toughest guy on our football team”. Defensive end Zach Allen, widely projected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL draft, echoed his coach’s praise, calling Glines “the heart and soul of [the] team”. Going forward Glines’ presence should make game planning easier on the BC coaching staff in case Dillon forced to miss any time.
It wasn’t always pretty for the Eagles, but it was a win, which is more than they can say they took home last week. Down the road this should serve as a learning experience for a team who still hopes their best football is ahead of them. As ACC play starts to intensify, masking their weaknesses and magnifying their strengths should remain at the top of the Eagles’ priorities.