The opening act of the Steve Addazio era at Boston College was far from routine.
His Eagles trailed Villanova, a top-10 preseason pick in the Football Championship Division, 14-7, at the half, before punching in a pair of third-quarter touchdowns on the way to a hard-earned 24-14 victory in BC’s 115th season opener before 30,922 at Alumni Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The victory was the first for BC kicking off the season since a 38-20 romp over Weber State in 2010.
On the first series of the second half, BC pulled even, 14-14, on a 49-yard strike down the middle from Chase Rettig (23 of 30, 285 yards) to Alex Amidon (13 catches, 146 yards), and then seized the lead for the first time on a 26-yard burst around right end by Andre Williams (23 rushes, 114 yards) with 4:40 left in the third quarter.
Junior cornerback Manny Asprilla delivered a game-changing play with 9:12 left, snaring a diving interception near midfield, and Nate Freese booted a 39-yard field goal with 5:18 remaining for the final margin.
Villanova struck first, with a bit of trickery, when wideout Jamal Abdur-Rahman took a fake punt 47 yards down the left side for a touchdown just 1:54 into the game.
The Eagles responded with a Williams-led, 13-play, 70-yard drive, with the bruising 6-foot, 227-pound senior churning out 40 yards on eight carries, before Rettig lofted a 1-yard scoring toss to redshirt freshman Bobby Wolford. It was the first career catch, and touchdown, for the 6-2, 233-pound Wolford, who was converted to fullback from linebacker after spring drills.
Villanova surged back on top, 14-7, when sturdy sophomore John Robertson connected with Abdur-Rahman on a 27-yard catch-and-run over the middle. Robertson’s 37-yard keeper down the left sideline punctuated the six-play, 75-yard march.
The Eagles escaped further damage when Robertson’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 1 with 3:47 left in the half went off Joe Price’s fingertips in the back of the end zone.
The Eagles kick off their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Friday night, hosting Wake Forest (1-0) at 8. But Williams may be a question mark. He sat out the fourth quarter after tweaking his hamstring in the third.
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.