|BC’s Rolandan Finch got a big assist from his linemen while rushing for a career-best 243 yards, the most in the ACC this season. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)|
BC back in win column
In sloppy conditions, Eagles much sharper
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - They needed a breakthrough game on offense, and they got one thanks to sophomore running back Rolandan Finch, who rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries, the most yardage by a running back in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.
They needed a breakthrough game on defense, and they got one, led by All-America linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was again all over the field, making tackles, breaking up passes, recording an interception, and even helping out on special teams.
Most of all, the Boston College Eagles, who had six losses in their first seven games, needed a win, and they got one, putting together their best effort of the season yesterday in rolling over Maryland, 28-17, on a chilly, wet afternoon at Byrd Stadium.
“We’re just excited about getting a win, any win,’’ said coach Frank Spaziani. “It’s like the next breath of air for us and we’re happy to get it. The conditions were horrific, but we found a way to win the game.’’
The victory, which was the Eagles’ first against a Bowl Subdivision opponent and first since defeating UMass Sept. 24, came the old-fashioned way. For Finch, it was not “3 yards and a cloud of dust’’ - more like 6.2 yards and a pile of mush, as rain and snow pelted the players all day and turned the field into a pond in some places.
Not only did Finch run for a career high, Andre Williams picked up 72 yards on 16 carries and wide receiver Alex Amidon gained 58 yards on the four handoffs he took while moving from his position in the slot, including a 21-yard sprint that gave BC a 14-3 first-quarter lead.
BC’s game plan was not necessarily dictated by running the ball, but the slop and Maryland’s 110th-ranked rush defense were taken into account.
“We want to run the ball all the time and the conditions dictated a lot of it,’’ said Spaziani. “We were having success running the ball; the combination of wanting to do that, with those conditions, were definitely factors.’’
The Eagles (2-6, 1-4) took a giant step on the opening drive as they moved 60 yards in six plays, with Finch getting most of the work. He carried five times for 47 yards, and sprinted through a huge hole on the left side for an 18-yard touchdown.
The Terrapins (2-6, 1-4) looked almost as sharp on their first possession as quarterback C.J. Brown and Davin Meggett danced through BC’s defensive line, pushing the ball from their 27 to the BC 15 in nine plays. The Eagles finally came up with a third-down stop, though, and Nick Ferrara kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 9:18 left in the first quarter.
The BC defense stepped up again on Maryland’s next series when Max Holloway tipped a Brown pass and free safety Sean Sylvia grabbed it up and raced 18 yards to the Terrapins’ 25.
Two plays later, the Eagles increased their lead to 14-3 as Amidon came in motion, took a handoff from Chase Rettig, and ran 21 yards into the end zone.
The Eagles continued their offensive domination in the second quarter as Finch continued to pound away.
“It was really slick, but I tried to keep it downhill most of the time, and just hit stuff straight,’’ he said.
Finch passed the 100-yard mark early in the quarter, and helped BC get to the Maryland 3. Williams came in and bulled his way into the end zone, elevating the lead to 21-3 with 11:34 remaining in the half.
Maryland switched to Danny O’Brien at quarterback and changed its focus to the passing game. BC was ready. Kuechly intercepted O’Brien’s third pass, giving the Eagles a first down at the Maryland 29.
But the Eagles gave the ball right back when Finch, struggling to gain extra yards, fumbled at the Maryland 9.
The Terrapins moved through swirling snow and into BC territory before Kuechly dropped Quintin McCree for a 6-yard loss on second and 9, effectively ending the drive.
But just as the half was winding down, Finch fumbled again, giving Maryland a first down at the BC 14. The Eagles held again and Maryland had to settle for a 34-yard field goal attempt by Ferrara, which was blocked.
The Terrapins had one more possession in the half, taking over at their 35. But BC again held and the Eagles had a 21-3 lead at the break.
Finch had a career game in the first 30 minutes, picking up 152 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Maryland caught a break at the start of the third quarter when a punt by Ferrara hit the foot of BC’s Mike Naples, and the Terrapins recovered at the BC 46.
They quickly drove to the 9 before Ferrara bounced a 27-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. BC had survived another mistake.
Maryland had run the first 14 plays of the second half, spanning 4 minutes 57 seconds, and come up empty.
That was pretty much the story of the day for Maryland, though the Terrapins did provide some spice with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
For BC, it was what it hoped was the start of a new chapter in its season.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.