Eagles Lose Shootout – and Anthony Brown – Against Louisville
By James Hunter Somers
From the get-go, Saturday’s matchup between Boston College and Louisville floated memories of Muhammad Ali’s epic battles in the ring. While the Cardinals donned uniforms that paid tribute to their hometown hero, both teams had their offenses clicking in likeness to his toe-to-toe bouts.
Boston College came out of the gate hot. After a 38-yard catch and run by AJ Dillon, the Eagles’ offense was on the brink of securing a quick strike. However, the Cardinals stood sturdy with their backs to the end zone and wrestled the ball out of Dillon’s hands. For the second week in a row, the Eagles suffered a turnover on the first drive of the game.
Catching the Eagles off guard, the Louisville offense quickly made their way downfield. Micale Cunningham relied on his agility and vision to break off for multiple runs. Over the past few games, the Boston College linebackers have struggled to contain slippery quarterbacks. This game was no exception. On second and goal, Cunningham broke through the first line of Eagles defenders as he made his way into the end zone. With 8 minutes left in the first quarter, Louisville had jumped to an early lead.
On the ensuing drive, Boston College offered an answer of its own. As fans were still groaning over the false start that had the team moving backwards on third down, Anthony Brown sent a pass over the top to the reliable Hunter Long. In a matter of seconds, the Eagles had tied the game back up. Brown’s 72-yard touchdown pass to his tight end was the team’s longest passing play of the season.
The Cardinals managed one more jab at the Eagles before the end of the first quarter. Finding soft coverage on third and 7, Cunningham unleashed a scoring throw to his senior receiver Seth Dawkins. As the two teams prepared for the second quarter, one thing seemed relatively clear: whichever team won the turnover margin would most likely win the game.
However, injuries have a way of tossing expectations out the window. A first-down run in the second quarter left Brown grimacing in pain after a non-contact knee injury. He’d miss the remainder of the game and was later spotted on the sidelines on crutches, left knee heavily bandaged. Taking over for the injured Brown, Dennis Grosel put forth an admirable showing – totaling three scores and 111 yards through the air. The redshirt sophomore showed rare poise behind center as he kept the Eagles in the game right up until the final whistle.
After watching the Cardinals extend the gap with ten unanswered points, Grosel managed Steve Addazio’s two-minute drill to perfection. Leaning on his big-bodied receivers, he moved the ball downfield to set up a beautiful strike to Kobay White in the back of the end zone. Boston College caught multiple breaks in the closing minutes. A botched snap spelt doom for Boston College’s often ridiculed special teams, but luckily resulted in a successful two-point conversion. On the flip side, Louisville missed a field goal of its own on a kick that would have granted the team a two–score lead before the half.
For those looking at the stats sheet coming out of the first half, it was reasonable to assume AJ Dillon was in for a slow day. However, the talented back came out of the break hungry, racking up his 16th career game of 100-plus yards rushing. With the run game finally clicking, Dennis Grosel was able to harness the magic of the play-action pass. Faking a handoff to Dillon on the first offensive drive of the third quarter, he threw the ball up to Korab Idrizi for the receiver’s second score of the game. Halfway through the third quarter, Boston College took its first lead of the game. The remainder of the game was more in the same with both teams clicking on offense.
With 3:30 left in the game, Addazio put his faith in Aaron Boumerhi, who rewarded his coach by nailing a 45-yard field goal to give the team a late lead. Considering Boston College’s kicking woes, it would have been the perfect story for the game to end this way.
Instead, the Cardinals engineered one last answer. Javian Dawkins exploited his speed mismatch to break into the second level and rumble down the field for 40 yards. The field goal from Blanton Creque proved too much for the Eagles to handle. For the second straight game, Dillon’s success on the ground fell short of compensating for the team’s secondary woes.
Overall, Jim Reid’s defense gave up too many explosive plays to the Cardinals’ speedy playmakers. Besides Max Richardson, who strung together 14 more tackles to add his dominant 2019 campaign, the Eagles’ defense remained a non-factor for most of the day.
As Boston College crawls into the bye week at 3-3, the excitement from the beginning of the season seems a distant memory. However, all is not lost. If Addazio and company can put together a plan to incorporate Grosel’s skillset into their offense and correct the team’s defensive woes, the team could be in for a thrilling second installment of the season. All rides on Dillon as he closes in on the school’s all-time rushing record.