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Eagles lose Harris, Ramsey

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / October 10, 2011

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A season that has had more lows than highs for the 1-5 Boston College football team dipped again yesterday when coach Frank Spaziani announced that senior running back Montel Harris and senior defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey were being shut down for the season because of lingering injuries.

With the season already on the verge of turning into the Eagles’ worst since 1998 - the latest setback Saturday’s 36-14 loss at Clemson - Spaziani and the medical staff, in consultation with Harris, Ramsey and their families, decided to apply for medical redshirt seasons.

If the applications are approved by the NCAA, the two could resume their careers at BC next season.

Harris has had two surgical procedures on his left knee and reinjured it in last week’s 27-19 loss to Wake Forest on a run on which he had passed Derrick Knight to become BC’s all-time leading rusher. Ramsey has been sidelined with foot problems.

“The doctors feel their injuries preclude them from returning for the rest of the year,’’ said Spaziani. “They want to come back and be part of the team. We will start the process and hope the guys can get healthy. Hopefully they will return for their senior year with their injuries healed.’’

“It was a nagging injury and not getting any better,’’ said Ramsey. “I just want to get better and have a healthy senior season and help my team.’’

The NCAA may grant hardship waivers to student-athletes with season-ending injuries who have appeared in fewer than 30 percent of their team’s competitions, with none after the midway point of the season. According to BC, Harris has appeared in two games, Ramsey one.

The BC running attack now will revolve around Andre Williams, who missed the Clemson game with a sprained right ankle. Deuce Finch rushed 19 times for 81 yards and a touchdown Saturday, and Tajh Kimble carried 11 times for 57 yards.

Ramsey’s spot has been filled by redshirt freshman Dominic Appiah and freshman Max Ricci.

It’s the latest setback Spaziani has had to deal with this season.

The injuries have been bad enough. What is harder for the coach to accept is the breakdowns - some minor, some much larger - that he has seen, especially on defense, which is his area of specialty.

If there has been a constant for the Eagles in recent years under Tom O’Brien, Jeff Jagodzinski, and Spaziani, it has been the defense, which often carried the team when the offense was sputtering.

Not this season. Saturday’s game was a case in point. Clemson had the ball for 11 series. None of the possessions lasted for more than 4:30. But only one time did the Eagles force the Tigers into a three-and-out.

The defense allowed a season high of 500 yards of total offense. Clemson converted on 5 of 14 third-down possessions and both of its fourth-down tries.

In the fourth quarter, with the Eagles trailing, 29-14, the momentum seemed to have swung in BC’s favor. Faced with a fourth and 1 on the BC 35, the Tigers’ Andre Ellington sprinted through a hole on the left side for the game-securing TD.

The one time BC did force a punt, the Eagles took over on the Clemson 47 and got a 24-yard TD pass from Chase Rettig to Bobby Swigert that cut the Clemson lead to 26-14. With 5:09 left in the third quarter, BC had plenty of time for a comeback. But the defense didn’t come up with any key stops the rest of the way.

The offense has its own flaws.

In four of its six games this season, BC has not been able to produce a TD in the first quarter. It got into the end zone in the first 15 minutes only against Duke and UMass.

With a week off to regroup, Spaziani said the team will work on fundamentals and simply getting healthier before a game at Virginia Tech Oct. 22.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.