EVANSTON, Ill. — Boston College contained Northwestern’s quarterback tag team and running back Venric Mark for most of Saturday’s nonconference game. But Northwestern found a spark in second-string running back Mike Trumpy (16 carries, 106 yards) and the Eagles self-destructed on a key third-quarter drive as the Wildcats took a 22-13 win.
BC held the lead late in the opening half and never trailed by more than 6 points until Northwestern scored on its final possession, Trumpy’s 27-yard run being the Wildcats’ only touchdown.
“We had a couple chances,” BC coach Frank Spaziani said. “You make mistakes, you can’t win games like that.”
The Eagles (1-2) squandered their best chance to take command early in the third quarter. Trailing, 12-10, BC moved from midfield into scoring position, but Rolandan Finch’s fumble at the 4-yard line cost the Eagles a chance to regain the advantage.
Jeff Budzien converted five field goals for Northwestern. His 42-, 20-, 29-, and 41-yarders gave the Wildcats a 2-point halftime lead, and he added a 19-yarder in the third quarter for a 15-10 lead.
Kain Colter started at quarterback for Northwestern, was relieved by Trevor Siemian late in the opening quarter, then played the entire second half.
BC staged its most impressive drive late in the opening half, going 95 yards on seven plays, Johnathan Coleman catching a 31-yard scoring pass from Chase Rettig for a 10-9 lead.
Colter fumbled on Northwestern’s second play of the second half, Steele Devitto recovering at the Wildcats 45. Rettig overthrew Alex Amidon in the end zone, but Tahj Kimble sparked BC with a 10-yard run on his first carry of the contest and Finch extended the drive with a 7-yard run on fourth and 1. A Rettig-to-Amidon 6-yard pass took BC to the 6, but Finch fumbled on the next play.
The Wildcats (3-0) went 94 yards on a 19-play drive, taking a 15-10 advantage with 2:50 left in the quarter. BC appeared to have halted the drive when Mark fumbled an option pitchout on third and 3, but the ball bounced directly to tackle Brandon Vitabile. Colter’s 16-yard run took the ball to the 8. Colter overthrew Christian Jones in the end zone, and was stopped at the 2 on a third-down scramble. The Wildcats settled for Budzien’s fifth field goal.
“The ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Spaziani said. “We knock the ball out of their hands, it bounces to their lineman. We take care of the stuff we can take care of. We didn’t make enough plays and that’s what it comes down to — just go back and keep looking and figure it out.”
On the Eagles’ next possession, a Rettig-to-Amidon 34-yard pass took BC to the 33. Rettig then twice threw incomplete to Amidon in the end zone. Nate Freese’s 34-yard field goal cut the BC deficit to 15-13 10 seconds into the fourth.
BC’s final chance to rally ended quickly. Backed up to his 1-yard line with 3:02 remaining following a punt, Rettig had two overthrows, and on third down had Amidon open on a curl pattern but threw low.
Northwestern took possession at the BC 44 with 2:35 to go. Trumpy gained 11 yards on the second play, then went through the middle on a 27-yard scoring run with 1:37 remaining.
BC has a bye week before hosting Clemson Sept. 29.
“It’s nice to have a bye week and get this taste out of our mouth,” linebacker Nick Clancy said. “It’s going to be a way to do that — focusing on another opponent, forget about what just happened, learn from what happened, and just keep going and try to get better.”
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com