Boston College came out on a mission, one that it planned to carry throughout the season but kept finding ways to sabotage.
The Eagles killed crucial drives before they started, fumbling 8 yards from their end zone.
They all but canceled out some of their biggest plays, coughing up the ball after big catches.
But above it all, after starting with two straight touchdowns, the kind of surge they needed to start the turnaround season they’d been focused on since going 4-8 a year ago, they were outscored, 41-18.
For everything BC did right in its 41-32 opening loss to Miami on Saturday, its mistakes were too big to overcome.
Chase Rettig threw for a career-high 441 yards with two touchdowns, but his one interception happened to be a pick-six that tied the game at 14, giving the Hurricanes life.
Tahj Kimble ran for 50 yards and caught six passes for 91 more, but after hauling in a 24-yarder over the middle in the fourth quarter with the Eagles down, 34-23, and clawing to stay in the game, he fumbled, giving Miami a chance to put it away for good.
When Stephen Morris found Malcolm Lewis for a 15-yard score with 9:49 left, Miami went up 41-23.
The Eagles posted 542 total yards, but they paid dearly for their three turnovers, and dropped a game they considered an instant measuring stick.
They had beaten Miami in their final game of 2011, but this was supposed to show how different both teams were.
In the week leading up to the opener, when BC coach Frank Spaziani would say to expect the unexpected, it was difficult to tell if he was grinning or grimmacing.
His team was drastically different from a year ago, but he couldn’t be certain it was for better or worse until it took the field.
All he got were positive signs from the first drive. Rettig was surgical, completing 3 of 4 passes for 58 yards. Running back Andre Williams, who was starting because last year’s top rusher, Rolandan Finch, has a sprained left foot, carried three times, jackknifing through Miami’s defense for 17 yards, including a 4-yard score that capped a 75-yard statement.
The Eagles’ forced the Hurricanes into a three-and-out, bottling up Morris on his first possession of the year.
Then the BC offense came back out and marched 70 yards behind Rettig, who threw a 15-yard pass to fullback Jake Sinkovec to put the Eagles up by two touchdowns in less than eight minutes.
There were surprises all over the field, starting with Sinkovec, who in the past saw most of his snaps as a linebacker, but caught three passes for 67 yards in the first half alone, reaching paydirt for the first time in his college career.
Spaziani had been anxious to see how wide receiver Alex Amidon would perform. If there was a player who had flown under the radar in the preseason, it was the 5-foot-11-inch junior. But Amidon was Rettig’s favorite target.
As for Rettig, he couldn’t have looked more comfortable in the offense of new coordinator Doug Martin, posting his fourth career 200-yard game before the half was complete. But his miscues, including a pick-six of 41 yards at the end of the first quarter by sophomore linebacker Denzel Perryman, were momentum-killers.
In the second quarter, on third and 4 from the Miami 6 with the game tied at 14, Rettig botched a snap and BC had to settle for a field goal. But Rettig was the wheelman for an offense that put up 294 yards in the first hlf, dwarfing Miami’s output by nearly 100.
The Hurricanes hadn’t won at BC since 2001, but had dominated the all-time rivalry, winning 24 of 29.
Miami went through an offseason makeover, as well, with more than half the roster (42 freshmen, 22 sophomores) underclassmen.
The crown jewel of Al Golden’s crop of young talent is running back Duke Johnson, who made his first impression quickly, shaking off five would-be on a 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, stiff-arming the last one for good measure. He became the first Hurricanes true freshman to start and score in a season opener since Jacory Harris in 2008, finishing with 135 yards and two scores.
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.