Eagles Open Season with Statement Win over Virginia Tech

Eagles Open Season with Statement Win over Virginia Tech

By JD Biagioni

Anthony Brown’s efficient first half, and a breakout performance from Zay Flowers powered Boston College’s offense to a 35-28 season-opening victory over cross-conference rival Virginia Tech.

While Virginia Tech did enter the game unranked, the Hokies did manage to receive 12 votes in the AP Preseason Poll. BC hasn’t opened the season against a ranked team since a 38-6 loss to No. 12 Ohio State in the 1995 Kickoff Classic. Still, the importance of playing a high-profile conference opponent Week 1 was not lost on BC, a team that has opened the season against the likes of UMass, Northern Illinois and Maine in recent seasons. 

“Winning the opener is extremely important,” Coach Addazio said. “It validates your off-season work, and it gives you positive momentum. But winning your opener against a highly quality football team, I think you get better from that.”

Brown completed 15 of 26 pass attempts for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. Compared to Ryan Willis’ 29-of-47 for 344 yards and four touchdowns, it might seem like Brown got out-dueled by his opponent. But BC’s junior quarterback made timely throws when it counted and avoided turning the ball over.

“It’s time for me to step up, time for me to be a leader in all areas, aspects of the game, whatever,” Brown said. “I’ll say we need a leader. We need somebody to step up, and it has to be me. We were missing that for the past two years, and right now I’m just ready to step into that role.”

The Eagles kicked off the scoring on their second drive of the game, when Brown found the true freshman Flowers for an over-the-shoulder, 33-yard touchdown. Flowers impressed in his collegiate debut, showcasing his north-south speed on that touchdown reception and a 58-yard catch two drives later. His lateral quickness helped Flowers to 25 yards on three jet sweep carries.

Brown displayed precision and patience in the pocket. In the second quarter, he found Kobay White for a back-shoulder catch to break the pylon. Brown lofted the ball high and put it in a position where only White could come down with it. Later in the same quarter, Brown took a read option for himself and ran it in 28 yards for a touchdown.

Willis, meanwhile, showed signs of inexperience to go along with exciting potential. He found receivers in tight windows, particularly in the second half to keep the Hokies within striking distance. But he also threw three interceptions, none more costly than an end zone interception to Joe Sparacio late in the first half. 

Tate Haynes also forced a fumble on Willis, marking four turnovers for a BC defense that was largely touted as inexperienced. This turnover, along with a Nolan Borgersen fumble recovery on a punt tilted the field in BC’s favor and allowed the Eagles to score 21 points in span of 6 minutes in the second quarter. 

The defense buckled down in the third quarter, when it seemed like Virginia Tech held the ball for most of the quarter and the BC offense stalled. Brandon Sebastian got upended but still managed to come down with an interception by the right pylon of the Virginia Tech end zone. Tanner Karafa intercepted Willis at the line of scrimmage a couple of drives later. 

AJ Dillon was held to 81 yards on the ground, but the All-American junior came up big when it counted the most. Midway through the second, after getting stuffed for most of the first half, Dillon broke free for a 17-yard touchdown run. After getting hit at the line, Dillon bounced outside and found a path to the end zone. Dillon also iced the game, plowing through the Virginia Tech defense on 3rd-and-9 in the game’s final minutes.

When Dillon rested on the sidelines, David Bailey came in and punished the Hokies defense. Another power back, Bailey (6’1”, 245 pounds) ran for 38 yards, but pounded it up the gut for a few key plays. 

Next up for the Eagles is another home afternoon game against Richmond. The Spiders are also 1-0, having defeated Jacksonville 38-19 in their opening game. The next conference game for BC will be on Parents’ Weekend against Wake Forest.