The bald spot on Frank Spaziani’s head already was there. But Boston College’s first quarter on Saturday didn’t do anything to stop it from spreading.
The Eagles coach watched Tahj Kimble fumble a ball at the goal line, trying to dive for BC’s first score but coughing up the ball out of the end zone, not only bailing out Maine but giving it possession.
Spaziani covered his face when Rolandan Finch, after missing the season opener with a sprained left foot, had the ball stripped from him after he assumed a gang tackle had stopped his progress and the play was dead.
Spaziani couldn’t figure out why Spiffy Evans decided to bring the ball out of the end zone on a kickoff, only to struggle to get to the 10-yard line.
Spaziani watched his quarterback, Chase Rettig, who threw for 441 yards last week (the most by a BC quarterback since Doug Flutie’s 447 against Penn State in 1984), recklessly try to thread a pass to Johnathan Coleman even though there were five Black Bears in the vicinity.
According to Spaziani, he had a lot to say on the sideline, little of which could be repeated.
“Four letters,” he said afterward. “Begins with an S.”
The most polite way Spaziani could describe the first 15 minutes of his team’s 34-3 win over Maine of the Championship Subdivision was “inauspicious.”
The brain cramps, careless mistakes, and bugaboos that cost the Eagles (1-1) what would have been a nice win over Miami last week crept up again. However, they were able to avoid sabotaging themselves this time. Rettig threw for three touchdowns, completing 16 of 32 passes for 219 yards.
Finch steadied the running game, taking the lion’s share of the carries (17) and gaining 90 yards. Between Coleman (three catches, 51 yards, TD) and Evans (four catches, 53 yards, TD, plus an 82-yard punt return for score), the offense found its X-factors.
Shaking off the mistakes instead of being swallowed up by them was the most significant thing to take away from the Eagles’ first win.
“I thought we improved in some areas and we need a lot of improvement in other areas,” Spaziani said. “But first things first, we got a victory and now we’ve got to build on it and understand that we can do it, and now we’ve got to go do it some more.”
The most basic improvement came in the win column. This is a team that lost six of its first seven games a year ago. Tasting victory, even against Maine, which BC has now outscored, 154-3, in the last four meetings, goes a long way in changing the team’s outlook.
“It’s huge,” said middle linebacker Nick Clancy. “Every year our goal is to get our first win of the year, and in a lot of ways it’s the hardest.”
A defense that gave up 41 points last week took a stand, one of the biggest coming in the first quarter after Finch’s fumble at the BC 18-yard line.
With Maine (0-1) starting its drive in the red zone, BC drew a line at the first-down marker and refused to let the Black Bears cross it. Brian Harvey’s 19-yard field goal ended up being Maine’s only points.
“We just lined up, we got everybody set, and we played BC football,” Clancy said. “We came down and we stopped them, and that’s what it takes, doing your job, playing every play one at a time, and just knowing your calling card, and that’s playing tough.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.