Boston College’s football team knew precisely how it wanted to start this fight, but the eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles knew precisely how to finish it. With a Hail Mary haymaker.
After the Eagles streaked to a 17-3 first-half lead Saturday, Florida State and unflappable redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston rallied for five touchdowns. Winston threw four TD passes as the Seminoles pinned BC with a 48-34 loss in an ACC Atlantic Division showdown before an Alumni Stadium crowd of 40,129.
Winston completed 17 of 27 attempts for 330 yards and ran 14 times for 67 yards. His crowning blow came with no time left in the first half when he sidestepped BC’s pass rush and completed a 55-yard Hail Mary heave to Kenny Shaw, giving the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0) a 24-17 lead.
Chase Rettig led the Eagles (2-2, 1-1) by completing 19 of 29 attempts for 192 yards and a career-high four TDs. But his performance was blemished by a pair of interceptions, the first of which P.J. Williams returned for a 20-yard touchdown that gave the Seminoles a three-touchdown lead with 13:41 left in the game.
The second, by Nate Andrews at the Florida State 1, came with less than two minutes left as BC was attempting to pull within one touchdown.
BC coach Steve Addazio said it was his intention to slow the game down against Florida State’s high-octane and high-powered offense. And he wasn’t joking.
The Eagles were even slow to send their cocaptains — Kasim Edebali and Ian White — out for the opening coin toss, making Florida State’s trio of captains wait on their sideline. BC won the toss and deferred until the second half.
Good thing, too, because the Eagles needed to respond after Florida State rallied from a 17-3 deficit to take a 24-17 halftime lead, scoring 21 straight points in the last 10½ minutes of the half.
Winston shook off a shaky start and heated up before the end of the half, throwing three touchdown passes. A 56-yard strike to Rashad Greene pulled the Seminoles within 17-10, then Winston hit wide-open fullback Chad Abram in the left flat on a 10-yard toss that tied it, 17-17, with 1:49 to go.
Florida State forced the Eagles to punt from their 27 and took over at its 40 with 50 seconds left. Edebali sacked Winston for an 8-yard loss to send the Seminoles back to their 32.
Devonta Freeman ran for 13 yards to the FSU 45. Then, with less than five seconds remaining, Winston squeezed off a Hail Mary heave when he stepped out of the grasp of defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad, stepped out of a collapsing pocket, and let go of a 55-yard toss to Shaw, who beat Spenser Rositano and fell into the end zone with no time left.
It was a ruinous turn of events for the Eagles, who had started the game with so much promise.
Senior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis batted down Winston’s first pass attempt. On FSU’s second play from scrimmage, Rositano nearly picked off a pass intended for Greene. On third and 10, Kaleb Ramsey sacked Winston for an 11-yard loss, forcing the Seminoles to punt from their 14.
Spiffy Evans returned it 19 yards to give BC’s offense precious field position at the FSU 36.
After Rettig found Alex Amidon for a 9-yard completion on BC’s second play, the Eagles launched their methodical, ground-and-pound run game, going to bruising senior Andre Williams five times for 23 yards. It set up BC’s play-action, which resulted in Rettig’s 6-yard TD toss to tight end C.J. Parsons, the first scoring catch of his career.
The Seminoles responded with a seven-play, 53-yard drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo.
BC then went on a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive, was capped by Rettig’s 3-yard toss to tight end/fullback Jake Sinkovec, who released out of the backfield, flashed open in the right flat, made the catch, and cut into the end zone, giving a pair of defenders the slip.
BC forced a three-and-out and the Eagles drove 55 yards in eight plays, but they were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Nate Freese that gave BC a 17-3 lead with 11:19 remaining in the half.
The Eagles were feeling good but they were far from being out of the woods, and the Seminoles came roaring back for a 24-17 hafltime lead.
Freshman Myles Willis sparked the Eagles when he returned the second-half kickoff 71 yards to the FSU 25. The drive seemed to stall on third and 10, but the Eagles were given a reprieve when the Seminoles committed a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty.
BC, however, was unable to capitalize and were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Freese that cut BC’s deficit to 24-20. Florida State answered with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Winston’s 10-yard dart to Greene in the corner of the end zone.
It was Winston’s fourth touchdown pass of the game.
Florida State forced BC to punt, and Karlos Williams Jr. capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge that gave the Seminoles a 38-20 lead.
Willis again sparked the Eagles when he hauled in a 52-yard TD pass from Rettig to cut BC’s deficit to 38-27 with 2:10 left. Rettig rolled to his left, stopped, and threw to his right, where Willis was streaking down the sideline uncovered. It was Rettig’s longest completion of the season.
BC’s defense held firm after the Seminoles marched to the 9, a 20-yard field goal by Aguayo making it 41-27. P.J. Williams picked off a Rettig screen pass intended for Amidon and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown that gave the Seminoles a 48-27 lead with 13:41 to go.
The Eagles managed one last touchdown when Rettig directed a seven-play, 75-yard march that he capped with a 17-yard toss to a wide-open Parsons in the left flat. Rettig’s fourth TD pass pulled BC within 48-34, but that was as close as the Eagles would get.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.