Eagles Win Quick Lane Bowl, Full Post Game Recap
By Quinn Kelly
Two former ACC foes squared off in their first meeting since 2013, as Boston College took on Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl from Detroit. BC holds an 8-3 lead in the all-time series, and they came out looking primed to make it a 9-3 lead.
BC came out flying after Maryland took the opening kickoff. After picking up their lone first down of the first quarter on the opening play of the game, the Terps were stopped on 3 plays and forced to punt the ball away to the Eagles. The Eagles would match the Terps with a first down on their first offensive play followed by 3 plays and a punt. The Eagles offense came out looking a bit rusty, as Charlie Callinan had two drops on would-be big gains.
On the following Maryland possession, Ray Smith picked up the first sack for the Eagles on the evening en route to a three and out that would begin a streak of 4 straight such drives for the Terps.
After the Terps took a penalty on the ensuing punt, the Eagles started what would be their first scoring drive from their offensive 49. Jon Hilliman got himself going on this drive, picking up first downs on 2nd and 1 and 3rd and 1 before breaking off a pair of big rushes that got the Eagles down inside the 1. Two plays later he punched it in for the first score of the game. Knoll’s extra point would be blocked on a breakdown up the middle and it was 6-0 Eags.
Maryland would start their next two possessions from their own 11 and go backwards on sacks by Zach Allen and Matt Milano. After the latter possession the Eagles would drive for their second score of the game. After a couple of rushes, BC turned to the play action pass and hit Tommy Sweeney for a big pick up to the Terps 10 yard line. A couple plays later, Towles hit Sweeney again with a throwback play from the 3 that was reminiscent of the 2-point conversion play at NC State.
On the next Terrapins possession, the Eagles picked up a pair of sacks, the first from Noa Merritt and the second, by Kevin Kavalec, forced a fumble that was recovered by Truman Gutapfel and taken down to the Maryland 10.
The Eagles could only muster 5 yards on 3 plays and ended up having to settle for a field goal. Knoll knocked down the 22 yarder and put the Eagles up 16-0.
On the third play of the next drive, after the Terrapins had picked up their first first down since the opening play of the game, Ty Johnson finally got the run game going and broke off a 62 yard rush up the middle for a touchdown. Maryland had negative yards rushing entering that possession, and only 7 yards of total offense. The play was sprung, as the broadcasters pointed out, by Matt Milano taking a bad angle from the linebacker position. What went unnoticed, though, was that Ty Schwab was also caught flat-footed looking into the backfield and lost his gap coverage, watching Johnson sail right past him on his way to pay dirt.
The next BC drive would start at the 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds. Myles Willis would immediately answer Johnson’s rush with a big 31 yard rush of his own. A couple plays later, BC would break out their bag of tricks and hit the double reverse pass, going Towles to Michael Walker to Jeff Smith and then thru the air back to Towles for the 20 yard touchdown.
The Terps would take the kickoff back to the BC 45 on a third straight terrible example of kick coverage by the Eagles. They were saved twice by penalties but it was a clean third return. A few plays later Ty Johnson picked up his second score on a 30 yard TD rush, once again burning Ty Schwab who misread an option and went after the QB, Perry Hills.
The two teams would go back and forth for a little bit before Harold Landry, one of the game’s biggest stars, made his first big play with an extremely athletic interception and return to the Terps’ 30 yard line. The Eagles could do nothing on the following possession, however, and ended up throwing an incomplete pass on an attempted fourth down conversion.
After stopping Maryland quickly on their next possession, Coach Addazio would decide that the first half fireworks were not over. In two plays, Towles would lead the offense down the field, finding Callinan for 15 and following it up with a 49 yard touchdown pass to a streaking Michael Walker. These were perhaps the two best throws on the day for Patty Ice. A penalty on the PAT would push the Eagles back and caused Knoll to miss his second extra point. That would be the half, and the Eagles looked to be sitting pretty going in up 29-13.
After dominating in most facets of the first half, the second would be a bit of a different story for the Eagles. Things started out very well, with Noa Merritt coming up with a big strip sack that Kevin Kavalec would jump on in the endzone for a touchdown a minute and a half into the half.
Up 36-13, BC looked like it would be able to put it into cruise control. The offense seemingly did, checking out for the rest of the game and not scoring at all in the second half.
The next Maryland possession would see the beginning of some serious problems for the BC secondary, as Will Harris was burned by Teldrick Morgan for a 63 yard touchdown reception. On the next Maryland possession, the Terps would burn the Eagles back end again, picking up a touchdown on a 52 yard pass to Levern Jacobs on the second play of the drive. The Eagles would hold onto their 36-27, the defense buckled down at the close of the third, the line stepping up and picking up sacks from Wyatt Ray and Zach Allen.
Early in the 4th, the Eagles stood tall on a 4th and 1 with the Terps trying to move into field goal range. On the snap, Hills bobbled the ball. Landry and Milano broke thru the line to get to him, but lost their handle on him and allowed him to get a little shovel pass off to Kenneth Goins Jr in the backfield. An Eagles defender made the saving tackle off the edge to prevent the third down. Originally, it appeared as though Ray Smith picked up a fumble from Goins and returned it for another defensive touchdown, but the call was overturned as it was clearly the ground that had caused the fumble. This would not be the last quirky play of the game the Eagles D would have to contest.
On the next Eagles possession, Towles would commit the first turnover of the day for the Eagles, seeing a pass on 3rd and 11 tipped and intercepted, giving Maryland possession at the 18. What ended up being the craziest possession of the game followed.
On third down and 11, the Terps would push it 17 yards down to the 2 for a first and goal. On a first down rush, they would take a 10 yard holding penalty, moving them back to the 12. The repeat first down would be a busted run, and on second, Landry would get in for a sack, the Eagle’s seventh of the game. On third down, Landry got in on the quarterback again, but was held and kept away from the QB. The call was made and the Terps were facing 3rd and goal from the 26, just a yard inside their target field goal range. On third down, Zach Allen looked to have picked up the eighth Eagles sack on the day, pushing the Terps out of field goal range, but a facemask call on Connor Strachan negated that sack, gave Maryland 15 yards and the first down. The Eagles had put themselves right back in hot water, and again had to turn to Harold Landry to save them. Landry would bat down the following two pass attempts. 3rd and 10 came up for the Terps and they managed to break off a draw and take it all the way down to the 1 for a first. On first and goal, the Eagles stepped up and stuck Maryland on an attempted shovel pass. Finally, on second and goal, still from the 1, the Eagles won the battle, recovering a fumbled snap and seemingly nearing an end to the game.
But, again, the grip on the chests of Eagles fans everywhere could not be loosened. BC needed to make it interesting, fumbling the ball the way inside the 5 and breathing life right back into the Terps game.
The defense stepped up once again, forcing the Terps to settle for a field goal and maintaining a 6 point lead.
The Eagles would punt on their next offensive possession and everything would come down to a final Maryland possession. With under 2 to go in the game, Maryland took the ball at the 35 yard line, needing to drive 65 yards to set up a chance to win. On first down, Kevin Kavalec blocked a Hills pass attempt. 3 stops to go. On second down, the Eagles’ D-line broke through and put pressure on Hills, causing him to throw it away. 2 stops to go. On third down, Zach Allen stepped up again and batted down another Hills pass. Now, the Eagles were just one play away from breaking a 9 year bowl drought and clinching a Quick Lane Bowl victory. And who else would lock it up but Harold Landry. Landry would combine with Matt Milano to sack Hills, effectively ending the game. It was Landry’s nation-leading 17th sack of the season, and like the 21st and a half, and final, sack of his Boston College career. A salute to Mr. Landry.
So there it is, congratulations to the Boston College Eagles 2016 football team for capping off a better-than-most-expected season with a program-changing bowl victory. Roll Eags.