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Williams leads BC over Syracuse 16-7

Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig scrambles out of the pocket against Syracuse during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig scrambles out of the pocket against Syracuse during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)
By John Kekis
AP Sports Writer / November 27, 2010

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SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Freshman tailback Andre Williams rushed for 185 yards on a school-record 42 carries and scored one touchdown in place of injured star Montel Harris, Nate Freese kicked three field goals, and Boston College beat Syracuse 16-7 on Saturday.

It was the fifth straight win for the Eagles (7-5).

Syracuse (7-5) has had a turnaround season, winning five times on the road, but the Orange finished the regular season without beating an Football Bowl Subdivision team at home. They also lost to Pittsburgh, Louisville and last week to surging Connecticut.

After Williams gave BC a 13-7 lead with a 1-yard run late in the third quarter, the Eagles forced Syracuse to punt and then continued giving the ball to Williams. He had 12 carries for 61 yards to set up Freese's 22-yard field goal with 6:44 left.

Harris, the nation's 11th-leading rusher at 113 yards a game, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Monday. He set BC's previous record for carries with 41 last year against Maryland.

Freshman quarterback Chase Rettig was 11 of 19 for 110 yards with one interception. Ryan Nassib was 15 of 24 for 147 and one pick for the Orange.

BC limited Syracuse to 238 total yards offensively, 91 on the ground. Linebacker Luke Kuechly, who leads the nation in tackles, upped his season total to 171 with 10, the 21st straight game he's had 10 or more.

After being stymied in the first half, Syracuse stormed out in the third quarter, taking the opening kickoff 80 yards for its first points. Nassib, 5 of 10 for 55 yards in the first half, completed five straight throws for 57 yards on the drive, including consecutive completions of 16 yards to Marcus Sales and Van Chew. Antwon Bailey completed the drive with a 5-yard run to give Syracuse a 7-6 lead.

The Eagles rallied quickly, driving 78 yards to go back ahead. Williams broke outside for a 20-yard gain and BC then capitalized on a breakdown in the Syracuse secondary to keep the drive alive. Facing third-and-5, Rettig found tight end Chris Pantale wide open over the middle for a 31-yard gain and Williams scored over right tackle.

Facing the top-ranked rush defense in the nation, the sputtering Syracuse offense, which had produced only one touchdown in the previous two games -- a span of nine quarters -- continued to misfire.

The Orange were held to just five first downs and 98 yards in the first half and crossed midfield only once in running just 24 plays to BC's 39. And even though Syracuse had the lone turnover of the half -- an interception by Kevyn Scott at his own 2 -- even that came back to haunt.

Syracuse was forced to punt for the fourth straight time and the Orange's Dorian Graham was called for interfering with returner Bobby Swigert's attempt to catch the ball. That gave BC a first down at midfield and Williams broke two tackles as he sped through the line of scrimmage for a 26-yard gain to get BC going.

The Eagles had what appeared to be a sure touchdown late in the second quarter when Swigert came from left to right on a flanker reverse and passed to a wide-open Pantale at the Syracuse 3. But the ball hit Pantale's hands and dropped harmlessly to the turf and BC settled for Freese's 29-yard field goal and a 6-0 halftime lead.

Freese gave BC a 3-0 lead with a 27-yard field goal midway through the first quarter after the Eagles' 15-play drive on the game's first possession stalled at the Syracuse 10.

The last time these once-fierce rivals played was in the season finale six years ago and Syracuse upset 17th-ranked BC 43-17 at Alumni Stadium. It was Boston College's final game as a member of the Big East and it deprived the Eagles of a spot in the Bowl Championship Series, as well as a farewell league crown. The win gave Syracuse a share of the Big East title and made the Orange bowl eligible.